The plastic water bottle skidded off the granite and disappeared. It wasn’t the sound the bottle made that disturbed me. It was the silence that followed its rapid disappearance. Along with twenty to twenty-five other people I was perched on the east face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, the world-famous granite slab that […]
It was one of those phone calls you always love to receive as an author. Pixar Studios was on the line, and they wanted to take a meeting with me.
“Sure,” I said. “Love to.”
The meeting occurred ten days later at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, a small city across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and about forty-five minutes by car from my home. The studios are behind a gated entrance. I parked and walked into a lovely amphitheater and open space where Pixar employees take lunch and hold company events and meetings. In a courtyard was the famous lamp, which is the company symbol and always makes an appearance in the credits at the start of every Pixar movie.
There is a wealth of things to do in California’s wine country. Here is an activity you may not have thought of: Ziplining through Sonoma’s coastal redwoods.
My son and I took a “flight” through the forests of Occidental in Sonoma County, about two hours north of San Francisco. I’d heartily recommend it for families or anyone who is looking for something a little different than the usual Sonoma and Napa Valley pleasures of wine tasting and dining. Continue reading “Ziplining through the redwoods”
“It’s all true,” I tell her. “I’m not making a word of this up. It all happened.”
“Great,” she tells me. “I love true stories.”
“It’s about a group of people who basically start with nothing and create a $100 million forgery ring, the biggest in America.”
Suddenly the producer looks puzzled, like she ate something bad. “How? What are they forging?”
“Fake autographs. You know, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, superstars like that. And they’re forging these autographs on baseballs, jerseys, photos, posters—you name it. They produce hundreds of thousands of fakes and sell them on the home shopping channels, eBay, stores, all over the place. And they make millions in cash.”
Luther Burbank was to plants what Steve Jobs was to computers. A creative genius who could take a thing and combine it with another thing, and in so doing make the original thing better and even sometimes new.
At the time of his death, in 1926, Burbank was one of the most famous men in America, certainly the most famous horticulturalist. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Jack London, John Muir, and other luminaries of the time visited him at his home and gardens in Santa Rosa, about an hour north of San Francisco, to see him and a few of the wonders he had created such as the spineless cactus.
Hemingway’s advice for writing well was simple: Run it through the typewriter one more time. We no longer have typewriters but the advice is still sound.
Almost without fail a second draft is better than a first. It is shorter, tighter, and less of a strain on your reader’s attention. For this blog post I went through three drafts. 1) I jotted my thoughts down on a legal pad. 2) I typed it up on my iMac. 3) I left it for a moment, came back, made a few last edits, and I was done. The whole process took twenty minutes.
This simple advice will help you write better books as well as better blogs, articles, and school papers. Just send it through the word processor one more time.
People have been asking this question ever since Auguste Rodin’s monumental sculpture, “The Thinker,” debuted in Paris in 1904.
Is he contemplating the great questions of God, existence, mortality? Did he get jilted by a girl and is wondering how to get her back? Is he trying to remember what he needs to pick up for tonight’s dinner?
On a walk this morning, Ruby lit out after a squirrel she saw at the foot of an oak tree. She went all out, from the drop, to get that squirrel.
She didn’t get it.
She did not in fact even come close. Squirrels appear to like to torture her and dogs in general. This one hesitated a second, as if to lure her in with the tantalizing possibility that she might catch it, only to scurry easily up the tree out of reach.
Publishers Lunch publishes a free, downloadable ebook series known as Buzz Books. It’s an appetizer plate for readers, a taster’s choice sampling of forthcoming books to be published this fall and winter. The idea is to whet your appetite so you will buy the books in their full form.
The Buzz Books series includes adult fiction and nonfiction titles. Since my interest is in Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, I downloaded the fall/winter 2018 Young Adult publishing preview. Of the 16 quality novels excerpted, three really spoke to me:
Pay Attention, Carter Jones, by Gary D. Schmidt. A proper English butler arrives to help a discombobulated American family. Told by a middle school boy, it’s funny and surprising. The butler speaks very proper English, which is only fitting considering the author, Gary D. Schmidt, is an English professor.
Sadie, by Canadian author Courtney Summers. A down on her luck teen girl tracks down her sister’s killer by piecing together clues as she goes from town to town. It’s an interesting premise, made more interesting by an NPR-style podcast reporter who tells pieces of the story.
White as Silence, Red as Song, by Alessandro D’Avenia. This is an Italian bestseller, originally published as White as Milk, Red as Blood. It’s told by a boy for whom, as he says, “everything is a color. Every emotion is a color.” Silence, for instance, is white. I found the excerpt I read very enjoyable, although the summary at the front hints at darker things to come. I especially appreciated the fact that the boy’s love interest is named Beatrice who, as every fan of Italian literature knows, was also the woman who inspired Dante. D’Avenia’s classical references make sense because he is a classical lit teacher in Italy.
I look forward to reading these buzz books in their entirety.