The Top Ten Things Grad School Taught Me About Writing

Yes. Yes I am.

  When I gave up a career in science to be a starving artist, I knew, without doubt or reservation, that I was doing the right thing.  I also knew it was a thing that would be difficult, if not impossible, to explain to anyone else. Perhaps it would be easier if I just explained all the ways a PhD in science is perfect preparation for the writing life.  So here they are – the top ten things grad school taught me about writing. 10) How to do a literature search.  I’ve become an expert at tracking down random...

When Book Love Goes Badly Wrong

double-facepalm

What’s the most trouble your book love has gotten you into? An out-of-control TBR pile? A spouse or parent wondering where all your money has gone? A concussion from walking into a street lamp while reading? Mine happened when I was still a bookseller at Chapters. We had a new manager.  She was a lovely lady and I liked her quite a lot, which is why I promised that I would eventually stop teasing her about this… I’d been reading Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies on my breaks and only had about 20 pages left, so I decided to stay a...

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Does Not Apply to Research

Wildebeest Migration

I’ve blogged before about the importance of fact checking sources when researching nonfiction for kids. This post is about a slightly different research challenge that, in the age of the internet, is becoming a huge problem. I sometimes teach classes on research techniques, for both writers and university students composing academic papers. First, I review the kinds of information sources writers can use. Then I discuss the way different sources are perceived and weighed by editors (and professors). Finally, we talk about how many sources the average 800-word children’s nonfiction article requires. When I tell students that articles I’ve written about DNA – a subject...

A Request for Hollywood

Franjeen and Rool

Is anyone else getting a little tired of superhero movies? With the exception of next year’s Wonder Woman, which not only looks awesome, but puts a female hero in a starring role, I am getting pretty burnt out on the whole genre. There is a sub-category of movie I would really like to see more of, though. A category no man would identify as “chick flick,” but which women everywhere find tremendously appealing: movies in which men with long hair and weapons run through the wilderness. Movies like these: Willow (1988) Even when falling on his butt, Val Kilmer is completely adorable. ...

I Have Now Made Peace With the Ghost of Steve Jobs

Seriously?

If we’re Facebook friends,* you may recall that last week, I dumped a full glass of iced tea over the keyboard of my laptop. This act of clumsiness must have offended the ghost of Steve Jobs in some way, because despite heroic effort on the part of Tech Support and the Genius Bar, my laptop could not be resurrected. I left the Apple store with tear-sodden tissues and a brand new laptop. Fortunately, my backup software had in fact run a week prior to the event, so in hindsight the event, while annoying and expensive, was a lot less traumatic...

Breakthrough in ALS Research Made Possible by the Ice Bucket Challenge

French Braid cover web

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It was quite possibly one of the weirdest things to ever go viral, but it raised a TON of money in support of ALS research. Which was awesome, because ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, had been flying well below most people’s radar. Last week news broke that money from the Ice Bucket Challenge had led to an actual breakthrough in ALS science – the discovery of genes that increase the risk of developing ALS.  As my YA book Gene Therapy explains, there’s a long road between discovering a gene and discovering a cure....