Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Are you on death row, but you’re afraid of needles? How about “Death by Elephant“?
  2. Learn some $10 words using awesome graphic design. *GRAPHIC LANGUAGE WARNING* (Just ignore the username of the submitter. Sorry.)
  3. I never know what to say when someone tells me that they don’t like to read. But this is a pretty good guide to what I’m thinking at the time.
  4. The future of notepads is here. No, I’m not talking about iPads or digital tablets. I’m talking about real tablets, or digital Moleskine technology.
  5. Do you have any bad memories? Behold, science can make them good memories!

Enjoy!

Questions on Blogging

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I had the good fortune recently to sit down with my coworker and fellow writer, Bill DeRooy, to discuss the art of blogging. Bill just started his own blog as a way to get back into writing consistently (why don’t you go follow his blog as an encouragement to keep with it?), which is a fantastic reason for blogging.

As it happens, I’ll be leading a workshop on blogging after the main presentations at Jot in a few weeks. And since I knew that Bill was just getting started, I thought I’d ask him what he would want to learn from a blogging workshop. Here were a few of his responses:

  • How do you make yourself more visible online?
  • How does Google find your stuff?
  • How often should I post?

These are wonderful questions. I have asked them myself. They give me a good place to start in creating a (hopefully) helpful worksheet for my workshop.

But I need more questions to answer.

I don’t claim to be an authority on blogging, I have been doing it consistently for a while now and I’m happy to shout my opinions at anyone who will listen.

Do you have questions that you would like answered in a blogging workshop setting? Are there any exercises that you’d like to see? What would the perfect handout include? Is is strange that I am questioning you for your questions?

Please leave your questions in the comments below. If you can’t make it to Jot, let me know and I’ll try to respond to your question in another way after the event.

I’m really looking forward to Jot, and I want to be as helpful as possible to the attendees.

By the way, if you are thinking of attending, please RSVP today. We are giving away free tickets in order to make sure that we set out enough chairs. If you plan on coming, please call 616-957-3110 today and reserve your spot.

Parking Your Buns at Jot 4

Call 616.957.3110 and reserve your seat at Jot today. Tickets are free, but seating is limited. Anyway, check this out.

Jot Writers Conference

If you’ve never been to Baker Book House, you are missing out. Fortunately, you can easily rectify that mistake by attending the next Jot Writers’ Conference which is being held at Baker Book House on Friday, September 12th (but you probably already knew that).

There are a lot of great reasons why we hold Jot at a bookstore. Here are just a few:

  • Bookstores are natural second homes to writers (and for those of you who would say that coffee shops are even more natural second homes for writers, Baker Book House is home to Icons Coffee, an indie coffee shop with the best Chai Latte in the world).
  • The space is free for us to use because Baker Book House is wonderfully supportive of West Michigan’s vibrant writing community (plus, one of the members of the writing group that runs Jot works there).
  • And finally, there are a…

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Book Review | Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green

9780141345253_p0_v1_s260x420Seldom has a book better filled my well of creativity than Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green. I cannot recommend this tome highly enough.

Written by a master of mythology (and an Inkling of Oxford), Myths of the Norsemen takes the available fragments of Viking tales and weaves a complete story from creation to destruction to rebirth. Though I was familiar with some of the characters and the events described in this book prior to reading it, I did not love it as I have come to now. Granted, as president (for life) of the Valhalla Norwegian Society, I’m predisposed to enjoy stories that celebrate my viking ancestry, but that only accounts for a small portion of my gushing praise.

Lancelyn Green’s collection of stories reads, at times like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and at other times like the Biblical book of Revelation, yet always it retains its tone of “northernness”. The dealings of gods and men, the value of strength and wits, and the certainty of impending death among even the deities gives Norse mythology a depth that is not found in Greek or Roman myths.

These gods are not holy. They are examples of the best and worst that mankind can aspire to be. Odin shows us that wisdom is costly. Thor shows us that strength does not always mean victory. Loki shows us that evils can be forgiven if one is useful to society. From Freya, we learn that actions have consequences, and from her husband Odur that love can triumph over many wrongs.

It will take me a while (and a few more readings) to glean what I can from Myths of the Norsemen. In the meantime, my brain is recharged and I’m excited to write afresh.

I Am Going Back to Work: A Vacation Retrospective

My beautiful wife and I are returning to work today after a lovely week of vacation together. In past years, vacations have been thinly disguised project weeks where we stayed home and worked around the house. And while this year was another stay-cation, we did our best to do something fun as a family every single day.

Due to a blessing of timing, we started our vacation with my wife’s company’s summer party at Michigan’s Adventure Theme Park. The girls had a blast on the pint-size rides and in the water. I wasn’t sure if there would be much for them to do since they were too small for any of the big rides, but I think they both had a great time anyway.

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Though I didn’t get pictures of it, we also enjoyed some time at our local library, picking up reading material and some movies for the week. We went to story-time at the mall and the girls played in the play area and enjoyed an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. We watched The Lego Movie (Awesome!) and Kung Fu Panda (Ska-doosh!).

We hit up the local zoo on Wednesday.

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On Thursday night, we enjoyed the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum‘s discounted rate (from 5pm – 8pm, it only costs $1.50 per person as opposed to the usual $8.00 per person).

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Friday was for my wife and I, as we celebrated 9 years of marriage over pasta and outlet shopping (shopping at an outlet mall, not shopping for electrical outlets, although I’m sure that the latter would have been cheaper).

And to finished off the week, we had a wonderful picnic with my mom and her husband at a local park after church.

I couldn’t ask for a nicer time off. I can only ask that it happens again soon.

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. When the world has growing pains, fantasy is there for us. Here’s a great article about the rise of magic in pop culture.
  2. If I ever go to prison, I really hope the US starts a program like this. But, even if they do, I think I’d choose to not go to prison.
  3. Writers! Have a cheat sheet for body language!
  4. The fight against Amazon continues. Do you shop at indie bookstores?
  5. Science agrees. Reading traditional paper books is better than reading an e-book. Take that, technology! (I realize the irony of me blogging about this on the internet.)

Enjoy!

Norse Mythology, Inklings, and Encouragement

9780141345253_p0_v1_s260x420I’ve been reading Norse mythology of late. Specifically, I’ve been enraptured by Roger Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norsemen, part of the Puffin Classics series.

In college, I was the president (for life) of the Valhalla Norwegian Society. Impressive in name, but in truth it was an organization created by one of my roommates and I for the purpose of watching Viking movies and applying for university funds to throw parties. Still, the organization was officially recognized by my university and we had a mailbox in the student government building, so it was really real.

Anyway, back to the book. If I liked Norse mythology then, I’ve fallen in love as I’ve continued to learn more about it. But this post isn’t about my fake student organization or even my growing love of Norse mythology. This post is about a tidbit that I picked up in the back of Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green.

The following is taken from the Author File at the end of the book:

In the course of his life Roger was a professional actor, librarian and teacher. He was also a member of the Inklings Club in Oxford, a group of friends who read and commented on, each other’s work. Its members included C. S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) and J. R. R. Tolkien (author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).

If it hadn’t been for Roger, The Chronicles of Narnia might never have been published. In 1949 Roger went to dinner with C. S. Lewis, who read to him two chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He also informed Roger that he’d read them to Tolkien a few weeks before, and Tolkien had told him that he didn’t think they were very good. Roger disagreed. He though they were great, and he encouraged Lewis to get them published. Roger even thought of the series title, The Chronicles of Narnia, and he went on to become the very first reader of all of the other Narnia stories.

I’m so glad that I belong to a writer’s group (The Weaklings) and that I can get feedback like Tolkien gave when my stuff needs work, as well as encouragement like Lancelyn Green gave when my stuff needs a shove toward publication. Unless both of those voices are there for a writer, some of the world’s best literature may go unpublished.

So what should you take away from this post? Seek out a group of peers for feedback and encouragement. Also, pick up a book on Norse mythology, since it is the best there is. Seriously, I don’t know why I wasted any time on Greek mythology back in the high school. Odin rules!

Nine Years: The Pottery Anniversary

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Today, I have been married to my beautiful wife for nine years. Long enough to have seen some tough times, but still far too short for my liking. And in the customary tradition of anniversary gifts, the ninth year is the pottery anniversary.

Here are a few things to know about pottery:

  • The art of making pottery is older than written history. There are ancient examples from every corner of the globe (also, I know that globes don’t have corners).
  • There’s a lot of work that goes into creating pottery. The clay must be shaped, the moisture must be removed, and the pottery must pass through intense heat in order to become strong enough to be useful.
  • Pottery lasts a super-long time. Remember earlier when I mentioned ancient examples? Those things are still around. Whatever you’ve heard about plastic taking a long time to break down in a landfill, it is nothing compared to pottery (PS – I have no idea of this is scientifically accurate, just go with me).

After learning these things, I think that pottery is the perfect gift for nine years of marriage.

  • Marriage is an ancient institution. Every culture has specific practices and ceremonies that surround the joining of two people together.
  • In order for a marriage to be successful, it takes work. Two people must abandon themselves into the union. They are shaped by the circumstances of life in all of its blessings and hardships. And if you’ve been married for nine years, then you will have passed through some fiery times, because those times are bound to come.
  • And if you can make it through the kiln of life’s hardships, your marriage is on track to last as long as you are.

I’m super thankful for my marriage. I’m thankful for the amazing woman who my wife is, for her hard work, for her love for our daughters, and for her commitment to God and to me (two very separate entities, I assure you).

I love you DeAnne Mosey! Happy Nine Years! Here’s to a millennia more!

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