Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Top 100 Chapter Books of All Time

Thanks to Jacqui for the heads up. Go here. Read about it. Then submit your selections to Put them in order, best to tenth best.


1. Potter--I picked the first one for the sake of simplicity, but really, any of them would do. Why it's number one: I used the stranded on a deserted island test. If I were in such a place, I would read and reread and reread any of the Harry Potter books above the others on the list.

2. Maniac Magee--First, it's awesome. Second, it's totally boy. Third, Spinelli deserves to be on the list and Maniac is his best work. There are other reasons.

3. Holes--Pure story. Awesome plotting. And another one for the boys.

4. Charlotte's Web--Is there a better story of friendship?

5. The Tale of Despereaux--I love Kate DiCamillo's writing, and for my money, Despereaux is her best story.

6. James and the Giant Peach--Because you must include Dahl.

7. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing--More a series of vignettes than a "story," but I read it to my third graders every year and they love it. After all these years, it's still funny.

8. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963--I like unconventional. A lot. Which is partly why Maniac Magee (a serious story about race that's told as a tall tale), Despereaux (the dicking around of the timeline is fun), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (see above), and Watsons make the list. Christopher Paul Curtis spends a good three-quarters of the book making you laugh your ass off and then--WHAM!--church bombing! I admire his guts (or ignorance--He's admitted as much in interviews), but I admire his publisher's guts even more.

9. The Westing Game--Because mysteries are fun and this is the best middle grade one I've read. We need more good mysteries. Anyone willing to write one?

10. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH--Like James and the Giant Peach, this one makes the list because I loved it as a kid. I like it somewhat less now, but you can't argue with nostalgia. I still refuse to admit Knight Rider sucked.

Now show me yours. But do it on your own blog, please.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the Junk Drawer

Since I have nothing to say, I thought I'd scour the flash drive for stuff I've abandoned and share it with you. That's right, I think so highly of my followers that I subject them to my trash.

Our principle is a great big fat lady who wears baggy colorful dresses. If she could hula-hoop she’d probably look a lot like Saturn. But since she’s so big and also so old, I doubt she hula-hoops. Be pretty funny if she did, though.

You don’t want an old principal. They’re like old teachers, but worse. Old teachers, like my last year’s teacher, Mrs. Baker, think can do whatever they want. Last year, Brandon Cleland got caught chewing gum in Mrs. Baker’s class and Mrs. Baker made him stick the gum on an index card. Then she pinned the index card to his t-shirt and he had to walk around with it all day. At night, he had to have his mom sign the index card and he had to bring the card back the next day with the gum still on it. Old teachers can get away with stuff like that. When I told my parents about it they acted like it was no big deal. Dad chuckled. “Still up to her old tricks, huh?” he’d said. Then he went on to tell me how easy kids had it nowadays and how when he went to school the principal had a paddle hanging right on the wall. It even had holes in it to cut down on air resistance. “She still have that old paddle?” he had asked.

Turns out she did still have the paddle. I saw it when she called me into her office. It was hanging right there on the cinder block wall next to her diploma.

“Have a seat,” Mrs. Winterbottom said. She sat behind her huge desk looking a lot like Jabba the Hutt in a dress, but Jabba wasn’t the only bad guy from Star Wars she reminded me of because for some reason Mrs. Winterbottom didn’t use her nose to breath. She breathed through her mouth and it made her sound like Darth Vader. I’d never seen anybody make breathing seem so difficult.

I sat down in a plastic chair. She had one of those gigantic cups you get at 7-11 in front of her, the kind that holds about six gallons of soda. She grabbed the cup with a meaty hand, lifted it to her mouth and sucked on the straw. When she was done she was breathing harder than before.

“Laughing in class,” Mrs. Winterbottom said, peering out over the top of her thick eyeglasses at me. “Why?”

Well I wasn’t about to tell her about what Titus said for two reasons. First, you don’t repeat Uranus jokes to the principal and second, I didn’t want to get Titus in trouble. So I just said, “Something funny happened and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Does that ever happen to you?” I asked her that because with mom and dad it helps to remind them that in many ways they’re not that different from me. Sometimes it makes them think twice about being so angry.

But it didn’t work with Mrs. Winterbottom. “No,” she said. “I never laugh.”

“But you used to, right?”

“No," she said. "Principals do not laugh.” She said it like she'd been principal her entire life, and for all I knew, she might have been.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm Positive, and I Have an Award to Prove It

Boy howdy! The Literary Ramblin' Woman herself, Casey McCormick, just awarded me a rootin' tootin', hootin,' hollerin', positively boot scootin' award. Much obliged, cowgirl.

Enough of that. I'm plum out of cowboy slang. The award is for projecting a positive outlook on my blog. You know, being my regular optimistic self. I'm now supposed to pass it on to five other uplifting bloggers. But first, I kind of feel like I need to prove I'm deserving.

So here are five positive outlooks on things that aren't, at first blush, very positive.

1. Sure, the economy is bad, but if it wasn't, we wouldn't be able to enjoy jokes like The economy is so bad Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America. Or any of these either.

2. Yes, the movie Avatar may have killed a Taiwanese man, but it's got really awesome special effects and the story's not half bad.

3. Being fat isn't a very good idea. Getting fat, however, is really fun and easy to do. You just eat delicious foods like pizza and potato skins then sit (or lay) down for the great majority of your day. Piece of cake. Mmm, cake.

4. Brett Favre did not make it back to the Super Bowl, but---oh, wait. That is good news.

5. The earthquake in Haiti was devastating, but because of it, Beyonce got to change the lyrics to her hit song "Halo" to "Haiti We Can See Your Halo," a la Elton John after the Princess Diana thing. And that's always good times.

Yee haw.

My five positive people:


If they don't find their way here in the next couple of days, will someone let them know? Report cards are due this week. I be busy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

She's Gone

My hands are still shaking.

I just clicked the SUBMIT button and sent off the YA. Couldn't they have come up with a better term than SUBMIT? For a writer who just sent his work out into the big scary agenty world, the word takes on a meaning that I'm sure the gmail programmers did not intend. Because just before I clicked the button, I had the feeling that I was bent over, grabbing my ankles, and waiting for something prodding to make an unwanted appearance. SUBMIT, indeed.

Right. So I sent the YA and now comes the waiting. This is where I'm supposed to bemoan the sluggish pace at which things occur in the publishing industry. I'm not gonna do it, though. The SUBMIT button was depressing enough, so how about something positive? Here's how I'd like things to go next:

1. On Monday, the person to whom I sent it calls (because I might not get to my email right away) and says, "I've read the first ten pages and I'd like to sign you right now. You didn't send this anywhere else did you?"

2. I sign.

3. "Oh, did I mention that it's perfect as it is? No revisions necessary. Never have I seen such a polished story from an unpublished writer. Actually, now that I think about it, I've never seen such a polished story from any writer. I can see my reflection in this story, and it's actually better looking that the real life me."

4. I act all humble and say something self-deprecating.

5. Agent laughs. Uproariously.

6. Book is sold by Friday.

7. Book is in stores by March because the publisher is hurting and needs a massive infux of cash ASAP and ever since my halftime appearance at the Super Bowl people have been threatening to destroy New York if the publisher doesn't get moving.

8. Book flies off the shelves faster than John Edwards can say "Oops."

9. Oprah calls. She wants me on her last show. I decline.

10. With all of my money and power I decide to purchase New York. I rename it New Murph. I refuse to live there, however, until Times Square is turned into a huge outdoor library stocked with books whose pages have all been laminated, at least until I find a way to control the weather.

And in honor of the title, here's this:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bad Day

If you think you had a bad day, watch this and think again.

By the way, my blogging absence is actually due to my writing instead of the usual lack of inspiration. I'm preparing the YA for submission next week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Prediction Time!

ALA awards tomorrow. You can watch them here or follow them on Twitter. I will be doing neither since, like every year, I have to work on MLK Day. However, that will not stop me from embarrassing myself and once again incorrectly predicting some of the winners.

I don't read enough new picture books to even bother pretending I know what I'm talking about, so if you want opinions on the Caldecott, I'd recommend getting in touch with Jacqui. She writes the things and reads lots of 'em.

Newbery Award

Tricky year for the judges. First, quite a few past winners (and I'm including honor books in that term) published books in 2009. There was Scat by Carl Hiaasen, A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck, The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko, and Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. I don't think any of these books has the goods their Newbery books did, but that won't stop the Newbery Committee from awarding one of them.

The Favorites:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is on everyone's list and for good reason.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is the kind of book librarians love. It's historical fiction, has a girl MC who's into a stereotypically boy thing, science, there's some good stuff about Charles Darwin, so kids might actually learn a few things, and the language is lush.

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson makes the list because it seems as though every time she writes a book the Newbery folks give her an award. I don't think it's deserving, but I'm not voting.

Dark Horses:

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton is a book I read and I liked it fine, but never once did I think it was an award winner.

A Season of Gifts, which I have not read, but it's Peck, so it has to be good.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Told Justice could be the Good Masters, Sweet Ladies book of 2010. I haven't read it, so I don't know how good it is, but you can't ignore the recent trend of Newbery judges recognizing works written primarily for an African-American audience. Woodson has been the primary beneficiary, but Claudette gives judges a reason to go without someone else.

Who I Want to Win:

Rebecca Stead for When You Reach Me, although I did not love the book as much as others, I still think it's the most enjoyable of the above. And isn't enjoyment why we read?

Who I Think Will Win: Jacqueline Kelly for Calpurnia Tate, because the librarians gave it to The Graveyard Book last year and I think it buys them a year to pick something quieter, slower, deeper, and more literary.

Printz Award

Thanks to a library system that often seems late to the game, I haven't read a ton of the Printz contenders. Here are ones I haven't read, but I have heard buzz about:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Devil's Paintbox by Victoria McKernan.
All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

The Favorites:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson--Honestly, I started this one but couldn't do it. First, the topic was way too serious, as are many of Anderson's books. I read to get away from the real world, not to immerse myself in its small horrors. Also, and I'm prepared to be attacked here, the writing was too good. The writing was so good that I just sat there and marveled at it and instead of wanting to read the story I wanted to study the writing and maybe steal a turn-of-phrase or two. Or fifty.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork--I read this one and loved it. One of the top three books I read last year. It should win. Period. Plus, the author has an X in his name.

Dark Horses:

Liar by Justine Larbalestier--Haven't read it. Probably won't, but it's generated a ton of Internet buzz and the reviews I've read have been favorable, often highlighting the masterful use of an unreliable narrator.

Going Bovine By Libba Bray--Anyone who's willing to do this deserves consideration.

Who I Want to Win: Stork for Marcelo.

Who Will Win: Stork for Marcelo.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What My Third Graders Want to Read

Buying books to update my classroom collection this week. Here's the list they gave me:

Science books
Hannah Montana
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Dog books
Pokemon books
High School Musical
Animal books
Books about knights
Junie B. Jones
Magic School Bus
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The Bible

UPDATE: I asked my afternoon group to make a list as well.

The Boxcar Children
Captain Underpants
Junie B. Jones
Super Diaper Baby
Science books
Star Wars
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Ivy and Bean
Scooby-Doo books
Books about race cars
Spongebob books

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fewer Queries, Please

It seems everyone is writing or has written a book they hope to publish. I sometimes think there are more aspiring authors than there are serious readers. Most blogging agents will tell you that their query numbers have skyrocketed the last few years and that this is true for their non-blogging colleagues as well. Part of me, the part that teaches kids and likes to read and reveres literature, celebrates this. More writers means more competition, which means only the cream of the cream will get published, which means it'll be easier for me to find great books.

But part of me is just a little peeved, and it's not because I'm all "Oh, you don't know what it takes. You think you can just slop something down and get a book deal blah blah blah." No, it's because I have to compete with these people and I'm realistic enough to know I'm no that guy who wrote The Shack.*

So let me offer a solution that will make almost everybody happy. I feel bad for myself and other unpublished writers. And I feel bad that the agents have to wade through an ever-increasing number of queries. But they can do a lot to lower these numbers.

Literary agents, I'd like you to be meaner. A little more Simon Cowell and a little less Paula Abdul, please. It seems the worst you hear about agents these days is "He never responded to my query!" This is a problem. Agents are just too damned nice. "It wasn't right for me, but keep trying," they say. "I like your writing, but the story is too close to something I just signed," they say. "It's a very subjective business," they say.

All too positive. With encouragement like this, no wonder every George, Dick, and Condi thinks they can publish a book. In their desire to not offend, agents have created a monster. With their timid form letters and their excessive indulgence they have created a system that treats the persistent few no better than the coddled and misty-eyed many. Agents, let's have a little more honesty. If something sucks, tell the writer it sucks. In fact, if you wouldn't mind, tell the writer he sucks.

Unless that writer is me.


*This is a joke. The Shack sucks. See? Now how hard was that?

Monday, January 11, 2010

About Those 120 Followers...

It probably breaks some kind of record, but I'm already dropping one of my goals for the new year.* I wrote here how one of my goals was to reach 120 followers by year's end. But then I realized I'm still on 60, and I started thinking about what all I'd have to do to get to 120. I'm just not prepared to do those things.

Those Things:

1. Read and comment on more blogs---I like to read blogs, but there's really only so many I can realistically get to in a timely way. And, let's be real, how is anyone's blog going to compare to the ones I already read? I mean, you're not going to get this just anywhere.**

2. Follow more blogs---Here's how it works. To get more followers you generally must do one of four things. If you get published, there's a good chance your follower number will go up because unpublished writers think they might a.)learn something from you or b.)get in good with you in the hopes that you'll help them realize their publishing dreams.

If you don't get published, then you must either a.)be really, really consistently entertaining (rare) or b.)provide useful information (Exhibit).

If you don't do any of the above, you're duking it out in the muck with the rest of us and then it's the old "I'll follow you if you follow me" routine. And since I don't really want to follow any more blogs and I don't want to do the research required to provide helpful information, and I lack the creative genius to be consistently entertaining, I'm pretty much left with getting published, which I kind of want to do anyway.

3. More self-promotion---I suppose I could increase my follower number by collecting more Facebook friends and linking to the blog. And I could join Twitter if I didn't think it the scourge of the universe. Or I could join more message boards and post stuff all the time. But I don't have the time or energy for that stuff. I've got a book to write, and many to read.


*It actually doesn't even break a personal record. That record was set in 2007 when I pledged to use the treadmill five days a week. I made it two days. Treadmills are boring and they make me sweaty.

**I should also admit to becoming a lazy commenter. I'd apologize, but I don't feel like it.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Some quick comments. Feel free to discuss, and, as is customary, take the conversation wherever you want.

I did not read all of Agent Bransford's contest entries, but I did read all of the finalists, and of those I thought the voters got it right. So congratulations to Jenny. Here's a link to her blog. She only has 15 followers, but that number might blow up, so get in early while the gettin's good.

About that contest, there's no way he read all those things. He'd have to be this guy to do that. My guess is he read them like he does query letters. Too long--out. Boring, cliched, or offensive first line--see ya. Typo--gone.

I'm reading K.L Going's latest and I'm pretty sure it's okay for me to admit I like her work. As of tomorrow, I will have read three of her four books and I've liked all of them. What impresses me the most is that although Going is, as far As I can tell, an actual chick*, she always writes books with male protagonists and she does them well. She must have had brothers growing up.

I'm outlining my latest novel attempt. I don't really like outlining because 1. I worry it'll take some of the fun out of writing, 2. It feels too controlling, and 3. I suck at it. To elaborate on #3: I can't plan that far out. I can get the first couple of scenes down and I know the ending, but what's going to happen in between is really anybody's guess, including mine. I'm not one to believe in characters taking over and all that sort of writerly nonsense meant to portray us as nothing more than conduits whose job is to transcribe the stories our characters demand we tell. That's a bunch of horse honky. But I do know that whenever I think Things will go a certain way they usually don't.

Didja all see Tracy over at Heather's blog?

What was up with the Christmas Day terrorist's underwear? I know people joke that you should wear clean underwear In case you end up in the ER, but if you're planning on dying, shouldn't you go with something a little more manly?

The Wife thinks me something of a book snob ever since I started writing seriously. My snobbery, however, has more to do with the number of books I want to read than my writing. I've always read, but with the Internet and reading blogs and being on message boards, I just have a longer to-read list than I've ever had and I don't want to waste time reading anything that's not holding my interest. And that's why I've recently abandoned The Secret Life of Bees, The Lovely Bones, and Shiver (don't hate me, Myra).

So you tell me, what books that everybody loves have you not had the patience to finish?**

*See evidence here.
**God, that's an awful sentence. Apologies. It's late.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Lost Symbol, AKA The Da Vinci Code II (Minus all that Jesus and Mary Magdalene Were a Thing Stuff)

Regular readers of Murphblog know that I don't often review books. The pretend reasons for this are as follows:

1. I consider them beneath me. (Reviews, not books.)
2. I'm a writer, Jim, not a reviewer!
3. I don't have the time.
4. Why should you care what I think about a book anyway?*

The real reason is I'm just not very good at writing them. And with that ringing self-endorsement, I present to you my review of Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol.


Robert Langdon is back, although he mostly serves as a doubting Thomas who is constantly being told, "No, really, it's true. I'm telling you, it's totally true. Seriously, man, it is so true. It's like, never been more truer than it is right now." This happens about thirty times.

Why's he back? Because this bad guy needs him to solve a bunch of pretty cool codes and stuff. See, the Freemasons, which is basically a fraternity of old white dudes with lots of secrets, have this thing called the Masonic Pyramid that is thought to hold the Ancient Mysteries, which is basically some secret wisdom from back when people where lots smarter than they are today. And the bad guy wants that wisdom because wisdom is powerful, yo.


If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you'll probably like this. And the reason for that is simple: Brown basically Used the same structure and elements to tell a very similar story. I thought this was smart, since pre-Da Vinci, Brown's sales weren't all that fantastic, and there would have been a whole lot of angry people if his new book was, say, a romantic comedy. Give the people what they want, or at least what think they want, that's what I say.** The Wife, who hasn't read the book yet, thought it was a stupid decision and believes Brown, having been granted the gift of clout, should have been a little more bold. As usual, I'm right, which makes her not.

Here's what I liked about the book:

1. Pacing--yeah, it's long. Yes, there are some unnecessary scenes and even chapters (but they're short), but the book moves pretty swiftly and you almost always have reason to turn the page (until the end, which drags a bit).

2. The codes are cool.

3. Like Da Vinci, you learn a bunch of cool stuff. There's some history and some art and some tidbits about famous people and lots of stuff about Washington, D.C. Oh, and there's the Masons. Anyone with any curiosity can't help but google stuff from the book.

Here's what might drive you nuts:

The writing---Look, the writing isn't bad in the way most people's writing is bad. It's not like Brown misuses words and drops run-on sentences all over the place. It's just not very good. The most annoying thing is the confusing POV. It's in third person and each chapter is supposed to be told from the perspective of one of the characters. But Brown intrudes all over the place. If he needs to give you some background or explain the meaning of apotheosis he just goes ahead and does it, even though the character would have no reason to think these things. And his use of italics is like Nails on a chalk board. Brown uses italics to tell what his characters are thinking and most of the time it's totally obnoxious. An example:

The "sactum sanctorum," as Mal'akh liked to call it, was a perfect twelve-foot square. Twelve are the signs of the zodiac. Twelve are the hours of the day. Twelve are the gates of heaven. In the center of the chamber was a stone table, a seven-by-seven square. Seven are the seals of Revelation. Seven are the steps of the Temple.
First, there's this weird back and forth between exposition and the character's thoughts, almost like Brown and his characters are taking turns. Second, Brown's characters are often thinking things they wouldn't be thinking. The "sactum sanctorum" referred to above was in the character's basement and he went there all the time. Are we really supposed to believe that every time he looked at the room and the table he thought of the symbolic significance of their sizes? It was grating.

2. Formulaic--A lot of the scenes follow the same pattern. Langdon is given information that he doesn't believe and somebody tries to convince him that he's wrong and eventually, he's forced to Admit that he was, in fact, wrong. After all he's seen, you'd expect him to be a little less skeptical.

Still, in spite of those and some other things (mostly to do with how the story was told, not the story itself), I enjoyed the book and I'll go back for more. It's been written that Brown has 12 more ideas for Robert Langdon books. Let's hope he loses the italics.


* You will note that this is a pretend reason. You should care. You should care passionately.
**I don't really say this, but I do think it. Sometimes.

If you're wondering about the capital letters--not a typo. You missed something. Check the old stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Once Again, Bacon is Good

Somewhere along the line I developed the idea that eating is a competitive enterprise. It's probably my dad's fault. He grew up on a farm and was made to clean his plate at every meal. He's never said what would have happened had he refused this order, but having not grown up on a farm I can imagine all sorts of terrible things.

Last night I was faced with quite a challenge. For dinner I decided to clean out the freezer, so we had tater tots, pizza rolls, mini tacos, and chicken nuggets. I cleaned my plate. Then, because my Spartans were playing in a bowl game, my dad and I met up with my friend Brad at a sports bar where I ordered cheese fries with bacon. The waitress asked if I wanted a half order or a full order and I told her half, but if she didn't screw up the order then I'd hate to see what the full size Looks like.

There were actually three choices for the cheese fries. Just regular cheese fries were $4.09. I could add chili for a buck or bacon for fifty cents. But they put these huge chunks of tomato and green pepper in their chili and since it was fifty cents less I chose the bacon because it made me feel thrifty. Plus, bacon is really good. So is cheese, incidentally.

So the waitress sat the enormous plate of cheese and fries and bacon in front of me and I entered competitive mode. Eating is really a contest between you and the establishment serving the food. Here's how I see it: It costs the place x amount of money to buy and make the food. It costs me x amount more to buy it. The system is designed for the establishment to win, just like casinos. But sometimes you just know they're taking a loss on the thing and this inspires me. It's why I love buffets so much. At buffets, if you eat enough you tip the scale in your favor. Four trips later, there's no way they've made money on me.

I've bought bacon at a store before and the stuff's not cheap. And these cheese fries had real bacon in them, complete with the little globules of fat. And there was a lot of it. So I knew that if I ate the whole thing, the place would probably take a loss on me. I faced the challenge with enthusiasm.

But bacon's hard to eat with a fork. It breaks off into these hard little bits that can't be stabbed and forks are shit for scooping, so I did the only reasonable thing. I picked off wads of cheesy fries and swirled them around the plate allowing the grease and gooeyness of the cheese to absorb the bacon chunks.

It was good. And, with an assist from my friend Brad (I offered out of altruism, not because I couldn't have finished the whole thing myself), we cleaned our plates.

And then today I woke up with a stomachache and had the audacity to feel betrayed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Checking the Details

I generally like to revise.* In fact, I've done so much revising in the past year and a half that I've basically forgotten how to draft without stopping every sentence and tweaking something. (For the record, I hate the word "tweak" and it really bothers me that it was the first word to pop in my head. I'd like to go back and change it now, but That would make this parenthetical pointless (not to mention really confusing) and although parentheticals are usually extraneous, they're also fun, so in spite of my strong urge to go up there and revise that sentence, "tweak" is staying.)

Today was dedicated to one of my favorite kinds of revising, fact-checking. I'm basically ready to send off the manuscript, but one of the last things I do (before rereading the whole thing and finding more things to do) is double-check all those tiny details that probably don't matter all that much but that might signify to an agent or reader that the author didn't cross his x's and dot his j's.

So here's the list of things I googled today:

  • Otter Pops--Do they still exist? (They do. And thank God.)
  • Handheld game consoles for teens (The itouch would be the most realistic, but my character isn't allowed a cell phone, so I went with the PSP even though it's a little old school.)
  • Image search: 2003 Nissan Sentra dash (I was trying to determine if they have SEEK buttons or just SCAN buttons on the radio. The images weren't detailed enough.)
  • Shock Wave soda (Doesn't exist, except in my manuscript.)
  • Ho Hos (Come in boxes of 10. Not sure why I didn't know this.)
  • Schwarzenegger spelling (I had it right. Just sayin'.)
I also revised my timeline based on what I found using Mapquest. I just sort of winged it when I wrote the story with the thinking that much later in the process I would fix it up. So that's what I did. Here's something fun I discovered:

U.S. Naval Observatory Sunrise/Sunset

It's what you think it is. You give it the year, city, and state, and it gives you a table that shows the sunrise and sunset times for every day of the year. Very Handy** for the anal retentive.

* It should be stated that I draw a distinction between revision that I think I should do and revision that others want me to do. The former is far more enjoyable than the latter.

**I've started something new for the new year. In Every post there will appear randomly capitalized words. I do this to annoy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Goals for 2010

These are just my reading, writing, and blogging goals. I've kept the personal stuff, you know, personal.

Reading--Read at least 100 books

Writing--Acquire an agent, finish two books (one is about a third done already), get better

Blogging--Double-digit posts each month, 120 followers

Books Read in 2009

This one's just for me, folks. I don't trust my memory and since I've started over for the new year I'm hoping this handy list will prevent me from checking out a book I've already read.