Monday, September 26, 2011

2007 Chris Baty Interview

For those of you not in the know, Chris Baty is the insane founder of National Novel Writing Month. Today I stumbled across this interview from 2007 that rather puts the silliness of OLL during NaNoWriMo into some perspective. I can really appreciate the man's vision and intelligence even more now.

The interview was conducted by Therese Walsh, on of the writers at Writer Unboxed.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Now, go get your equivalent of a magical Viking helmet of writing and come join us in November for one heck of a monthful of writerly abandon!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Book Week

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” - Voltaire

What some consider to be nothing but hot air and hype, others see as a celebration of free speech and an awareness-raising of how that freedom is under constant assault. I tend to side with the later. Of course there are limits to what should be in our libraries, especially in children's libraries, but there are those who would protect them from thoughts and ideas that aren't even radical. Some of the reasons folks try to ban a book just boggles the mind. And so, we have Banned Book Week, which starts tomorrow!

I thought I'd put together a personal reading list for the week, trying to be all edgy and everything, but something funny happened. As I'm reading over the various lists ( here and here) of books that have been banned or challenged, I realized that I've actually read quite a few. Some I can understand the desire to ban (Brave New World, anyone?) and others just leave me scratching my head, especially if they're more recent works. (R. L. Stine's Goosebumps? Really?)

So, I thought it might be fun to make a list of the banned books I've got under my belt, just for fun. Have you read any of them?

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - read my freshman year of college, under duress. (I still think it's boring.)

William Powell's The Anarchist's Cookbook - I actually used to have a copy of this from the internet. And I can totally see why folks would want it banned.

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - pretty radical when written. Heck, it's still probably radical today. The entire sexual more of the book would have been extremely radical in 1932.

Stephen King's Christine - okay, technically I haven't read this one. I've tried twice and keep falling asleep by page 21...

Stephen King's Cujo - I don't understand the banning of this one, although it did scare the bejeesus out of me when I read it.

Stephen King's The Dead Zone - I read this one in high school, just like Cujo. It was...interesting. I remember being surprised by the sex scenes, what there were, but I think that was because the seemed a little forced, as though an editor had told him to sex it up and he wasn't sure how....

Daniel Keyes's Flowers for Algernon - beautiful short story, not so great as a novel....On a side note, Dr. Keyes used to be an English/Creative Writing prof here at OU. I got him to autograph a copy of the book for my mom one year for Christmas.

V. C. Andrew's Flowers in the Attic - disturbing. And once again I can rather understand why some folks would want it banned, what with the incest and all...

Judy Blume's Forever - once again I can see why it might be banned. I remember reading it in high
school to find out what all the fuss was about. I appreciated her courage in writing the book.

Lois Lowry's The Giver - okay, the end left me going wtf? but the book itself was very thought-provoking and extremely well written. I cared about those characters. Drama Queen had to read it in 5th grade, which is how I came to read it as well.

R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series - honestly! It's been challenged, which is a shame. We can hardly keep the books on the shelves over at the school. They are probably the most popular and they get kids reading. Oh, and Mr. Stine is from Columbus, OH. He went to OSU back in the day.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby - excellent book!

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - very distrubing and I hated it, but Mark had left it lying around so long that I felt compelled to read the dang thing. And back them, if I started it then I usually wound up finishing it.

Thomas Rockwell's How to Eat Fried Worms - again, really? It's classic. And probably the first banned book I ever read, way back in 6th grade. (Although I didn't know it was a banned book at the time.)

Harry Allard's The Stupids (series) - honestly, I've read one of these and if they'd just ignored it, maybe it would have gone away. Aptly named though...

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird - absolutely amazing book. I finally read it this summer after years of thinking it would be boring. Instead I was riveted. If you read only one book on this list, it should be this one.

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time - I can see why some would feel threatened by this book, but it's still an amazing book.

There you have it - my banned book list. I suspect there are quite a few more of Mark Twain's on lists floating around out there as well, especially Letters From the Earth, which I've read, as well as Extracts from Adam's Diary and Eve's Diary, both of which I plan to read this coming week. I'm also hoping to get my hands on Animal Farm, by Orwell. Monkey Girl read it in her 5th grade HOTS class and got a kick out of it.

So, what's on your list?

Monday, September 19, 2011


Avast, ye mateys! Today be talk like a pirate day! Get yer scurvy dog self over to th' webpage n' check it out. Smartly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My First Giveaway - My Memories Scrapbooking Software

I want to tell you about this fabulous software I was given the opportunity to try out - and then I'm going to give you a chance to win a copy for yourself. This is my first every giveaway, so I'm a little excited. For the record, other than the exact same package I'm giving away, there has been no renumeration for the following review. They merely gave me the opportunity to play around with the software for awhile and then asked me to tell you all what I thought about it.

I got this software offer mysteriously in my email inbox. Figuring it was a hoax or scam, I opened a new window, did a Yahoo! search and went to check out the company. They have freebies you can download. And they weren't just in their software format either. Most of them could also be downloaded as .pdfs and used in other types of projects, or printed out and used for regularly scrapbooking. This kinda impressed me. I mentioned the email to Mr. Incredible and told him that I thought I was going to do it. I'm so glad I did. I have had so much fun with the My Memories Scrapbooking Suite that it's unbelievable. Heck, I'm thinking of doing our school yearbook for this year using the software to put the books together. We were just going to sell inexpensive photo cds, instead of the regular yearbook because of the cost, but with this program I can also do wonderfully themed layouts to add to the fun.

("Morning Hush" - Possibly my favorite pack at the moment.)

The Good Stuffs:

1. Variety - There's a large variety of scrapbooking packs to browse through. I learned very quickly to take a good look at the embellishments in deciding if I really want a particular pack. Otherwise I'd just look at the pretty colors and go, "Oh, shiny!"

2. Freebies, Giveaways, and Cheapies - There is a nice variety of freebies, as well as a dollar store, and many packs are frequently marked down. I've also noticed that they highlight a different designer each week on their blog, complete with giveaways.

3. Easy Account - It's very easy to set up your account. I also like that your Wishlist shows up on the front page of your account area. (Yes, there's a Wishlist feature, which is VERY nice.) The checkout process is pretty smooth as well. It's also easy to download and install new scrapbooking packs. (For the record, I'm running Windows 7 with IE 9, which I don't necessarily recommend for reasons having nothing to do with My Memories.)

4. Software - The most important part, right? What the heck is the software like?  It seemed pretty straightforward and easy to use - to me. Your experience might vary, depending on how comfortable you are playing around with new software.I love how easy it is to resize, reposition, and move around the various elements on a page.

For those who don't intuitively seem to get it, there's also a user guide that you can download. It's bookmarked and hyperlinked to navigate fairly easily. Drama Queen seems to have caught on to how to use the software fairly easily and has been having fun playing around with it as well. (I also just discovered a "Getting Started Tutorial.")

(Our Chi Rho church campers - one of my first pages.)

5. Sharing Your Creations - There are several ways of doing this. My option of choice has been to simply export a page as a .jpeg - and you can do more than one at a time - and then either share them on here or print. I like printing as a .jpeg because it seems to fill more of the printed page than if I print straight from the program.

Of course, you can also print it from straight from the My Memories program. There are also options to create interactive digital albums, add music or sound, save it as a slide show, or even burn it to a dvd. Yet another option is to upload your scrapbook to the webstie and have it printed for you as a bound book. I haven't really explored any of these options yet, so I can't really speak for how well they work.

6. Terms of Use - I'm also impressed with their Terms of Use policy. Photographers can actually use their software to create scrapbooking pages which they then sell. Those pages have to include photographs taken by the photographer, but I still thank that's a really incredible policy.

The Bad Stuffs
1. Honestly, I think my biggest complaint about My Memories is searching the website for what I want. I can search by the name of a pack or the name of a designer, but I can't search for, say, "teddy bears". (Unless it happens to be worked into the name of a pack...) It's a little time consuming when looking for something in particular. 

2. Printing Area - I've discovered that if I print from within the program that the printed area doesn't nearly fill the page. If I export it as a .jpeg, I get much more coverage. It's a minor thing, but is still something to keep in mind.

The Verdict
Overall, I'm finding myself honestly recommending this software to folks I know who might be interested. It's a lot of fun, the kits aren't really all that expensive, and the finished layouts are beautiful. I've shared some of my pages on here and am planning on sharing more during the course of the contest. I'm also having fun trying to figure out interesting ways to use the software for things other than just traditional scrapbooking pages.

The Giveaway
So, you're now probably wondering how you can get your hands on the freebie I've got to giveaway. Or, at least I hope you're wondering something along those lines. I'm going to try and make it fairly easy since I hate giveaways on blogs that make you jump through half-a-dozen hoops and go like this or follow that.

All you need do is go to the My Memories site and browse through the packs for a wee bit. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me which one you really liked. Make sure to include some means for me to get in touch with you, be it your own blog or what have you.

I'm going to keep the contest open until October 15th, at which point I'll use one of the various random number generator's to pick the winner.

Oh, and the winner gets a code to download the My Memories v2 software for free (a $39.97 value) plus a $10 gift certificate to use on their website. Not a bad deal.

The random number generator will have the final say in who wins, promise. I'm sure whoever gets this will really enjoy it. And if you don't win the contest, I'm going to share a code later that I think gives you a discount on purchasing the software. But more on that later...(After I check it out a bit more.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Couple of Layouts

Just something tossed up quik that I wanted to share. I think I'm going to start the giveaway come Monday, in honor of Monkey Girl's birthday, so please be looking for that. This software is maybe a little too much fun to play with. ;-) I did these two pages tonight while we were gaming. Ah yes, troll blood and sentimental scrapbook pages. Quite a mix!

Mr. Incredible, who celebrated his birthday yesterday by running all over the place for school events. This layout was completed from an almost totally blank canvas. All I started with was a template with the photo spots already on it. Then I played around for a couple of hours (we were in combate part of that time. And before that we were dealing with some goblins, so I kept getting distracted.) with various embelishments and word art. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The green and purple theme uses his favorite colors. The trick was to get greens and purples that worked well together since I was pulling elements from different products.

My grandmother (on the left) and her sister. It's just the two of them now. And they act like a couple of young girls on a regular basis, thank goodness! This layout was done using one of the quick pages that already has embelishments already on it. All I had to do was resize the photo for the opening and then I sent it to the back so it would lay behind the matting. Very quick and easy. The three flowers on the right, but the two leafy things peaking out from under them were added by me, as was the journaling bit at the bottom. I'm rather pleased with it.

Okay, that's it for tonight. I'm off to bed. Tomorrow we head up home for the Cline family reunion. Should be fun!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick Update

Sorry it's been quiet on here again, and just when I was starting to post a little more often too. However, I'm just plain tired. I've been touched by three deaths lately, and I know there have been several more. And I've been working extra, covering for folks who needed to be gone from work in the afternoon. Actually getting to walk out the door at 1 this afternoon was a nice novelty. ;-)

Okay, enough whining! And enough dying around here for now! I know the last two deaths weren't surprises and were more blessing than tragedy, but it's still more than enough for now.