Reflection on Weekend’s Book Bash

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This past weekend was spent in scavenger hunting fun! Since the pandemic, they’ve (GISH) been doing more and more mini-hunts to give people on lockdown something to do and raise money for charity. This most recent hunt was called a Book Bash and most of the items centered around reading and writing. My go-to’s if you will. With my writing retreat cancelled I found myself with nothing* to do so I signed up at the last minute.

[*Nothing to do means: cleaning house, taking a shower, going to mass, planning and cooking dinner, writing, preparing and filing my taxes, typing up interfaith meeting notes, writing and sending Cursillo reports, and half a dozen other things that are still on my to-do list, but hey who doens’t have 48 hours to spend aimlessly. I also signed up for a free vision journal workshop at a food co-op.]

Aimlessly doesn’t accurately describe the weekend, but I think you get the drift of the lack of impulse control I sometimes have.

Before I share the few items I did, I want to share the link to the charity that we supported with our registration fees: World Central Kitchen for their current humanitarian work in Ukraine. Their leader is Chef Jose Andres who leads with his heart and encourages giving especially where getting hungry people their necessary nourishment. If you have the mean, please give generously. They are on the ground in the world’s poorest and dangerous places, bringing hope with their meals.

World Central Kitchen

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Writing Prompts and Resources

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Writing prompts. Where do they come from? I once read a tweet by Benjamin Dreyer who I defer to in almost all matters of grammar and copyediting, but there are two things I disagree with:

1. an historic is correct, and

2. He is incorrect when he says that not everything is a writing prompt.

In fact, EVERYTHING is a writing prompt.

That bird nestling in the tree outside your garage. Writing Prompt.

That car that went through the stop sign. Writing Prompt.

A sink full of dirty dishes. Writing Prompt.

Your child’s laughter. Writing Prompt.

Everything around you is a writing prompt.

Take for example this week’s Target ad. Advertisers tell you what you should be focusing on in the new year and encourage you to better yourself whether you need to or not. The first couple of weeks of ads focus on that new year, new you spirit, and of course they want you to buy things. If you follow the seasonal editorial/advertising schedule you’ll also see what people are interested in and looking for.

Going through the Target ad there are easily ten separate things that can be written as features, blog posts, listicles, and whatever else you might think of. Just like “Low Prices!” Target copywriters can offer titles or sub-titles to a longer piece: “Home Refresh” and “Clean Every Surface“.

The subjects include, but of course are not limited to: laundry, cleaning, restocking essentials, baby stuff – diapers, formula, furniture, vitamins, exercise equipment, office and stationary organization and “essential items” now with taxes right around the corner, and at the end of the ad is the reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming soon so get those blog posts written and those pictures taken.

Personally, I’ve already made my list from the ad of most of the things we’ve run out of over the holidays while we were preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s. We made do with what we had, but now it’s time to restock.

I’ve also started writing in my new calendar/planner so I need to begin writing with some of the prompts I’ve been collecting.

These are some of my go-to resources:

Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

Thesaurus dot com

The Writer magazine

Merriam-Webster dictionary

Evernote app

Business Calendar 2 app (I use the free one, but I plan on getting the pro version sometime in 2022)

Election Connection 2022

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There are exactly forty-three (43) weeks until the next Election Day. This is the mid-terms and we need to keep the House AND the Senate. We have slim majorities in both, and we are already seeing how Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell has been abusing his power. We need to make Joe Manchin one of one hundred instead of THE ONE who can capsize what the majority of us want for this country and our families.

Yes, this is a mid-term election, but regardless, there are NO OFF YEARS. We need to get in it and STAY in it.

Check out the links below to see what you can do NOW!

NOTE: In the Pennsylvania Senate race, I am not endorsing either candidate, but giving you information and the websites of both candidates who I am familiar with. Both have government experience in local and state positions.

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Beto O’Rourke for Governor of Texas

Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia

Ohio Senate Candidate: Tim Ryan, currently Representative in the House of Representatives

PA Senate Candidate: John Fetterman, currently Lt. Governor of PA

PA Senate Candidate: Malcolm Kenyatta, currently Representative in the PA General Assembly

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Writing Resources

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We all have those things, those tools that keep us on task or inspire us or help us in the mundane, every day editing and revision process. And of course, there’s the writing.

As I was writing the Back to School Resource Guide last week, I realized that many of those same items can be used as resources for our writing process.

Currently, my first go-to is a Thesaurus. I use the online one in the previous link. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it has all the words.

Next is a new addition to anyone’s resource list: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. I also have his Day-by-Day Calendar which gives you hints and copyediting advice all through the year that you didn’t know you needed until you read it. Both are excellent resources. He is coming out with a children’s version and a second edition is on the way.

My go-to online dictionary is Merriam-Webster, partly because of their longevity and willingness to modernize, but also their sense of humor. Follow them on Twitter.

Need to know what day someone was born on in 1873? Sunrise or sunset? Time and Date is for you.

Need a quotation? BrainyQuote.

When is National Crepe Day? Well, National Crepe Suzette Day is May 6th! Today, in fact is National Noodle Day! How do I know this? National Day Archives.

Need help jump starting your novel? Nanowrimo is for you! It runs November 1st through November 30th and gives you the resources and motivation to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

The only magazine I subscribe to is The Writer. I’ve been getting it for at least two decades, although I have more recently switched to digital only. Saves trees and space in my house.

Drawing Interior Scenes. Even as a young writer, I always drew the apartments where my characters lived. I found it a useful way to assist in the descriptive prose. This manga artist takes it to a whole new level: Manga artist [Haru Amake] shares a genius-level trick to take the headache out of drawing interior scenes

Chromebook Shortcuts

Two of my very favorite organizing tools are Evernote and Business Calendar 2. My links go to the Amazon store since I use my Kindle more than anything else, but both are available in the Google Store and if you have i-products you can check the Apple Store. Both come in a free and a paid version.

Evernote lets you keep information organized in separate “books”. A few of mine are: Quotations, Writing Prompts, A Book of Days (to track holidays), and Travel Notes for on the go.

Business Calendar 2 is the best calendar app I have ever used, and I have used more than a few. I’ve been using it for about two weeks, and it took me a couple of days to see how beneficial this calendar app is to my life!

The free version lets me do everything I absolutely need to do with a calendar/organizer with a minimum of ads. There are a few advanced features that I would like, and I plan to eventually purchase the paid version. In addition to no ads, it will let me multi-pick for deleting agenda items at the end of the day. But realistically, that’s only for my preference. It is completely usable and useful with just the free download.

Is This the End of Writing in Cafés? by Emily Temple. Full Disclosure: I’m writing this right now in a cafe, so I think you know my answer to that question.

I leave you with some inspiring words from Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner, Lin-Manuel Miranda:

Then chase a moment, not a plot.

If a moment’s too big, chase a sentence.

You just need an inch to start. GO WRITE.

Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, circa 2016 (when you can’t find the words)

Back to School Resources

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I saved the following quotation from Stephen King for a future writing post, but I think it’s also quite appropriate for Back to School as well.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

Stephen King

The very first resource I would recommend is Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style . I have the e-book on my Kindle and it is worth every penny whichever way you choose to purchase it. I’m waiting with bated breath for the next edition from Benjamin Dreyer. I have gotten through this year by daily tearing off the pages of his Day-to-Day Calendar.

Hat tip to Mr. Dreyer himself for most of these recommendations. The first two are my own.

Is today a holiday? It could be National Cheeseburger Day. Find out here: National Day Archives

What’s another word for…? Synonyms would be the bane of my existence without this site: Thesaurus

When was the sunrise on September 15, 1938? Was that a Saturday? Find out here: Time and Date

Mr. Dreyer’s Go-To Dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

M-W Online

@MerriamWebster on Twitter

The Free Dictionary (online)

Election Connection – Election Day 2022

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Election Day is in 49 Days!

Make a plan to vote.

RIGHT NOW!

We need to ensure that we get every seat we can in order to accomplish the American people’s agenda. Voting Rights. Reproductive Rights. End gerrymandering. Equal Justice. a non-partisan Supreme Court.

We can do it together. Let’s go.

Some places to get you started:

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Election Connection: NO OFF YEARS

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Vote Save America has a new campaign, and it couldn’t be more urgent for us to get involved. It is definitely not too early. In this climate of gerrymandering and voter suppression, there is no too early.

And EVERY YEAR is an Election Year!

In 2022, we need to hold the House and expand our majority in the Senate so one of two egocentric Senators can’t hold us hostage with the fantasy of bipartisanship. They couldn’t even muster bipartisanship for an investigation into an Insurrection we witnessed before our eyes that could have left some Members of Congress dead. That noose in front of the Capitol wasn’t a prop and they weren’t cosplaying. By their own admission and video confessions, they were out for blood.

Go to Crooked Media’s No Off Years and sign up to be notified of what you can do to keep our republic, to ensure our democratic values for another generation. And if you’re the praying type, pray that it isn’t too late.

Travel – Crossing the Canadian Border

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As of August 9th, travel to Canada by US citizens has been approved by the Canadian government. (The US side continues to be closed to non-essential travel, although if traveling to Canada, US citizens should have no issues returning to the United States, according to the Consular Affairs of the US State Department.)

Our family is planning on spending a week north of the border, but in order to do that, there are some atypical (as well as the usual) hoops to jump through first. I have been traveling to Canada since I was five, and so for many of us it’s taken awhile to get used to the changes when crossing the border. It is sometimes hard to remember that Canada isn’t simply US-North, but an entirely different country with policies, procedures, and laws that differ from ours. (It’s been especially challenging to those of us who have family in Canada that we’ve visited over several decades pre-9/11 and pre-pandemic.)

Some things to remember to as you plan your vacation to Canada this year:

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Election Connection – Voter Reform NOW

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Visit these websites and keep the vote free and fair for EVERYONE.

Stop Jim Crow 2

Brennan Center – Voter Reform

Fair Fight

Vote Save America

Democracy Docket

World Press Freedom Day

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On this World Press Freedom Day, I’d like to share with you three links:

UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Commemoration and Activities

The Committee to Protect Journalists Website

ACLU: Freedom of the Press

I’d also encourage you to familarize yourself with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which holds the freedom of the press as one of the most important tenets of our democratic beliefs.