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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!

The Psychology of Color in Marketing

For those involved in advertising or marketing, I just stumbled across this article, The Psychology of Color in Marketing by Gregory Ciotti. It’s an interesting article that give a lot of good information about how color affects perception and response. Worth a read.

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.

In this day and age

Who’d have thunk it. Whilst doing some research for a side project, I browsed to a company’s website. What did I find? Five lines of text. Company name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number and fax number. That’s it… nothing else. No information about the company, no pictures, no links… nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. However, in their defense, they did “tart it up” by making the phone number and fax number bold.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’ve encountered plenty of companies that have no website at all. That’s not that unusual even though I can’t quite wrap my head around why any business wouldn’t have a website these days. After all, that’s pretty much how businesses are found these days and it’s a prime opportunity to make a good impression on potential customers.

But this? I mean WTF??? If I lived near there, I’d probably want to stomp into their office and thump on somebody’s desk and rant at them for allowing this foolishness. And if I could hunt down whoever put that web page up (I won’t distinguish that person with the title of webmaster), Someone would have to restrain me from using my Official Technical Writer’s 2 x 4® to persuade them of the error of their ways. And yet, I’m too much of a sweetie to publicly shame them by posting a link to their “site”.

<sigh>Like my ex-mother-in-law says, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

A Season in the Show

Science fiction author John Scalzi just posted an inspirational message for fiction writers on his blog Whatever. Wander over to and check it out.

Joel Habush’s Tips on Advertising: Suffer the Little Children

Most of the suffering will be done by your director or producer, because everyone’s spinning their wheels waiting to get a good take from a recalcitrant, lisping and whispering “star” of your radio or TV commercial. Know who else will suffer? Potential (and existing) customers for your product(s) or service(s) who will be punching the “search” button on the car radio, or hitting the remote on the TV, or zapping through your commercial that was on a program that they had DVR’d. Anything else that might suffer? Right, sales and profits. Read the rest of this entry »
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