Archive for January, 2008


January 14, 2008

Hands Down, the Cutest Dog Ever

You seriously can’t argue with this:

cutest dog ever - and his toy

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January 13, 2008

Graphic Novel Review: The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs

weirdly world of strange eggs cover

I recently took a psychedelic trip through The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs, led by the Egg-Man. Goo goo g’joob.

In Chris Reilly, Steve Ahlquist, and Jeremy Mann’s all-ages graphic novel, the mysterious Egg-Man shows up in the tree in Kip and Kelly Hatcher’s yard, speaking in verse and offering eggs that can hatch into anything the kids’ imagination can conjure. (Hatchers. Eggs. Get it?)

Kip, the boy who emanates imagination, and Kelly, his older, logical, scientific sister, take in and hatch one of the eggs. But first they debate the best way to keep the egg warm: Kelly wants to build an incubator because it’s more precise; Kip wants to sit on the egg because it’s more motherly. Kelly’s reasoning wins — but it’s the last time her scientific solutions will prevail. She builds the incubator, and Hoop is born. I have no idea what kind of creature Hoop is, but then again, he isn’t a product of my imagination.

Hoop’s a bit of a trouble-maker. He tricks the kids and meets the Egg-Man to receive the next egg delivery. But this egg is an abomanog egg, which apparently means something abominable will hatch from it. And once this creature, Party Hat, hatches, the story just gets weird.

We have a blood-sucking Party Hat, a Willy-Wonka-like Egg-Man, fart-launched butt bats, a possessed veterinarian, and jelly. Lots and lots of jelly.

Strange Eggs, indeed. (Most peculiar, Mama!)
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January 11, 2008

Oh Those Busy Homeschoolers

What do homeschoolers do when they’re not busy winning spelling and geography bees? They make things. Give homeschoolers a simple tool, and look what they choose to do with a little free time. And a lot of snow.

Because, you know, it’s important wrap up your study of the Alaskan Inuit with a hands-on project. Or something like that.

igloo on front yard

The kids did have help from Dad to finish the igloo. Well, okay, they had a lot of help from Dad, especially when it came time to put the roof on. And then that night, it warmed up and rained. And rained. And rained. And by morning, the igloo was nothing but a mushy foundation.

No worries, no tears. Around here, we enjoy the process as much as the product. Or something like that.

But then, like a phoenix from the ashes, another igloo emerged from the snow, this time in the backyard.

left-hand shot of igloo in backyard

Hey kids, you must really love igloo building, huh? Congratulations on some fine brickwork in that there v2.0 igloo. What? You didn’t build this one. Not a single snow brick? Dad made it all by himself? It took him all afternoon?!

right-hand shot of igloo in backyard

He must be planning to show the kids the proper use of a keystone in an arch. No, wait: he wants to show them how the laws of thermodynamics apply to life in Alaska. Yeah, that’s it. Next, when we study ancient Greece, we’re going to build our own Trojan Horse and storm our next-door neighbor’s yard.

Because we homeschoolers really like to immerse ourselves in our learning.

Or something like that.

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January 3, 2008

Should You Write for Free? 3 Tips for Freelancers

In a previous post, I cautioned unpublished writers about magazine markets that don’t pay. I stand by my statements: I think that magazine publishers should pay writers something for their work, even if it’s a token amount. Why? Because professionals should be paid for their services. In what other field are people routinely expected to donate their services to help someone else get his/her business off the ground?

However, I’m not saying writers should never write for free. I just think they should do it when the benefits outweigh the costs (time and effort) and when the working conditions are not one-sided in favor of the publisher. For some people, the benefits have nothing to do with business: they write for publications that support causes near and dear to their hearts or that cover topics about which they’re passionate. Altruism is a good thing.

But if your goal is to earn money as a writer and you have not yet signed your first contract, how do you know if writing for free would help your career? Unless you have a crystal ball, you won’t know for sure. But the following three questions can help you evaluate the costs/benefits of writing for free.

Question #1: What else can the publisher offer if they can’t give you cold, hard cash?

Examples include:

  • Large readership: How many readers will see your work?
  • Prestige: Is the publication (or editor/publisher) highly regarded in its field? Will another editor to whom you show the clip respect the publication?
  • Networking: What other industry connections does the publisher have that might lead to additional, paid work for you?
  • Longevity: Does the publication seem well managed and financed on the business end? It can be hard for a writer to find out, but it’s important to try. A byline in a flash-in-the-pan publication has very limited value.
  • Affiliation with new market or medium: Is the publication doing something original or breaking new ground in some noteworthy way?

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