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Publishing Institute

Mount Mary University Publishing InstituteMount Mary University is presenting a publishing institute next month… “a day-long event exploring the many facets of publishing.” The event will take place Friday, September 25th and Saturday, September 26th at Mount Mary University, 2900 North Menomonee River Parkway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more information, visit

Was This Review Helpful to You?

If you’ve ever wondered what some of those morons are thinking when they write a book review, you’ll appreciate this. I browse book reviews extensively and I know some of the clueless reviewers  make me wonder that they apparently survived a good dose of chlorine in their gene pool. Over at Ploughshares, Rebecca Makkai posted a collection of brief book reviews entitled Was This Review Helpful to You? … five stars (h/t to Erica Dreifus).

29 Photos That Prove Punctuation Is VERY Important

We don’t ordinarily do this but I had to post a link to this page that I stumbled across on Facebook (thanks Buzzfeed):

29 Photos That Prove Punctuation Is VERY Important
Remember: Commas are your friends.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett

© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

A great author, Sir Terry Pratchett, passed away the other day. I was introduced to his work when our reading group, Read 23*, at the request of member Joel Habush, chose Mr. Pratchett’s wonderful novel Going Postal. It was a wonderful read and I subsequently have read a number of other novels in Mr. Pratchett’s Discworld series. Mr. Pratchett was afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and we lost him at the young age of 66.

“The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds,” said Larry Finlay of his publishers Transworld. The author died at home, surrounded by his family, “with his cat sleeping on his bed”, he added.

There have been many tributes to Mr. Pratchett over the last week, a number of which have been shared on the Read 23 mailing list:

Mr. Pratchett left us too soon… he’ll be missed.

* OMG, the discussion is tomorrow and I still have 23 chapters to read!

Oliver Sacks on shuffling off this mortal coil

Oliver Sacks by Luigi Novi

Oliver Sacks © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

This morning, the New York Times published an essay by Oliver Sacks wherein he discusses his diagnosis of terminal cancer. His essay addresses his condition and prognosis with uncommon grace and dignity. In addition, science fiction author John Scalzi published an essay entitled Oliver Sacks and Public Individuals at the Close. Dr. Sacks is a renowned clinical neurologist and best-selling author of many fascinating books. He is one of the great contributors to life on this planet whose legacy will endure and he will be greatly missed when he leaves us.

UW Madison 2015 Writers’ Institute

The University of Wisconsin – Madison has just announced the schedule for the 2015 Writers’ Institute. It takes place Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29, 2015 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. The institute presents a lot of sessions that can help the novice or experienced writer advance their career and promote their work. I think a number of our members have attended this event in the past and been quite satisfied.



The Texas Supreme Court channels Ferris Bueller

This post by Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that focuses on Constitutional issues, quotes significantly from an opinion by the Texas Supreme Court that tries to make sense of who is or isn’t a member of the media. It’s important to those of us who write because there are legal protections from litigation for the media that don’t apply to the public at large. In the process Justice Don Willett’s dissent invokes Ferris Bueller but then gets into the the serious business of who is and who isn’t “media”. It’s a tad esoteric but worthy of a read.

Eschew, Evade, and/or Eradicate Legalese

As a follower of the Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that focuses on Constitutional law, I visited Professor Eugene Volokh’s webpage at UCLA where he’s the Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law. Taking a look at his extensive list of articles, I stumbled across this gem…

Eschew, Evade, and/or Eradicate Legalese

Now this is great stuff for those of us who inherit source material from lawyers, but it also applies very much to material that comes from engineers, programmers and just about any other source. Not only that, but it’s a good way to improve our own writing.

Seduced by Twitter

Author Kathryn Schultz just published a great article, subtitled How Twitter Hijacked My Mind, on the New York Magazine website. From being a total skeptic, she became a Twitter addict. Not only is it engrossing but it also points out how Twitter’s a great tool for authors.

As the saying goes, been there, done that. I got deeply engrossed in Twitter but it became such a time suck that I gave it up cold turkey. Don’t get me wrong… I love it. The reason I gave it up is because I’m usually on a contract assignment where I’m dedicated to full-time work during normal business hours. I saw many of my colleagues and friends apparently spending most of their waking hours dedicated to Twitter and, as far as I can tell, giving their employers less than fair value for their wages. I didn’t want to do that… when I’m on an assignment, I don’t feel that it’s right for me to spend time during those hours on Twitter or Facebook or other personal-level social media. I’m not as engrossed with Facebook as I was with Twitter… I didn’t feel that I needed to give it up; I can manage my use of Facebook during my off hours. I will tell you this… when the time comes that I’m ready and able to retire, I’ll be back on Twitter in a heartbeat.

That time of year again

One of the fond memories from my youth was when the Chicago Tribune published the (now politically incorrect) Injun Summer by John T. McCutcheon each year on its front page. First published in 1907, it became an annual event. It brings a good feeling to the inevitability of fall and demonstrates how we can use our imaginations. The Tribune has a brief article about it here.

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