Saturday, February 26, 2011

What makes a good story, how GPS works, and other questions a 10-year-old.

Sometimes it helps to look outside our own heads for a fresh perspective. So I went to my daughter and we had a chat.

RB: When you are working on a story, what has been the hardest part?

JB: The quotation marks, because I always forget to put in the "he said" and "she said" parts.

RB: The tags.

JB: Right. The tags.

RB: Tell me why you started writing stories.

JB: Because my teacher made me.

RB: Sometimes I write in a notebook and other times on my laptop. Do you have a preference about the way you write?

JB: The computer is better because it tells you if you spell something wrong.

RB: You just finished reading a huge book in three days! (Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins, ~400 pages) I've never seen you do that before. What elements in the Jake Ransom book made it so important that you read it that fast?

JB: It was funny and scary at the same time. Animals with swords? Is that not funny and scary?

RB: Tell me your opinions about audio books vs. real books.

JB: Audio books are faster but real books . . . when we read those, we have to imagine the voices.

RB: Some people are using e-readers now, like a flat little computer you hold in your hand. The whole book is on there, kind of like a Word document. What do you think about that?

JB: That sounds strange. I've never seen one or heard of one.

RB: Would you try one?

JB: Yeah. It would be neat to own a little electronic device like that and have it all to myself.

RB: Do you know what a card catalog is?

JB: No.

RB: Do you know what an encyclopedia is?

JB: Yep. A long book, sort of like a dictionary, with different topics.

RB: If you needed to find out a phone number, how would you do it?

JB: By asking the person.

RB: I mean, if they weren't there with you.

JB: I'd e-mail them.

RB: If you didn't know their e-mail address?

JB: I'd mail them a letter. And I already know what you're going to say next. If I didn't know their address, I'd wait until the next time I saw them.

RB: What about getting directions somewhere? How would you do that?


RB: Do you know how that works?

JB: Yes. It's another little electronic device. It sits in your hand or in your car, and tells you where to go.

RB: Yes, but how does it work?

JB: It's just smart like that.

RB: GPS works because it talks to the satellites in space. They know where you are, and they know where you are trying to go.

JB: Oh. Sweet.

RB: Do you have any idea how much a stamp costs?

JB: No. A dollar?

RB: Forty-four cents.

JB: *shrugs, unimpressed*

RB: I'm always after you to try new foods. If I would stop nagging you about any particular food, which would you choose?

JB: Well, which one do you cook the most? I guess corn or carrots.

RB: Moms are embarrassing sometimes. How am I embarrassing to you?

JB: At the Christmas parties, sometimes you kiss me.

RB: If you had to explain to a little kid why reading is important, what would you say?

JB: It's good for your brain so it doesn't turn into mush. That's your line.

RB: I'm glad you remember my line.

JB: You say it enough.

RB: What message do you have for the people who will read our blog?

JB: Wait. People are going to read this?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Around the Interweb

I'm feeling very spoiled this week because Marshal Zeringue has been kind to host me at a couple of interesting blogs, including The Page 69 Test, which is less perverse than it sounds, but no less fun, and Writers Read, in which I disclose what books I am currently courting.

Today I was flattered to be invited to speak at an upcoming writer's workshop. I can't think of anything more enjoyable than that. Writers. Books. TALKING?! Sign me up.

And, there were brownies and ice cream at my office.

The day was good.