Friday Fun Facts: The Puzzle of S.

Photo via Amazon.
Photo via Amazon.

Today, according to National Day Calendar, is National Puzzle Day. When I think of books that are also puzzles, the first that comes to mind is S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Have you read it yet? Maybe read isn’t even the right word . . . have you experienced it yet? Here are some facts in case you haven’t.

  • S. is more than a book—it’s a collection of found objects. In actuality, the book you open is called Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka. It presents as a library’s copy of a novel with lots of marginalia scribbled throughout by two distinct characters having a written conversation in the margins. It also has various items stuck inside the book, such as notes on napkins, postcards, old photos, a decoder, and maps.
  • These inserts are realistic. The napkin is a napkin.
  • A fourth character—in addition to the author and the two readers—is the translator: F. X. Caldeira, who is another mystery.
  • When I was reading it, I made a point to avoid the Internet, because I was afraid of spoilers. However, some of the experience of S., is online. There are Pinterest pages and secret codes and faux radio shows, all waiting to be explored. A lot of what I’ve found was created by Abrams and Dorst, though some are fan responses to the puzzle that is S.
  • The audio version of S. is actually just Ship of Theseus without any of the marginalia commentary.
  • There is no right or wrong way to read this book. You can go straight through the novel, straight through the marginalia, or read a mixture of both. It is, in its own way, a choose your own adventure.
  • There are alternate endings to V. M. Straka’s novel shared by the authors floating around the Internet.

If you haven’t yet—go find yourself a copy and dive in!


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

blizzardAs I’m writing this, the east coast has just been pummeled by Winter Storm Jonas. According to the Weather Channel, New York is officially now the fifth state to record 30 inches or more of snow from this storm. Mount Mitchell, in North Carolina, has a record 66 inches of snow. While I stare out at my rainy neighborhood, friends are posting photos of soft white snow lumps where their cars used to be.

Weather is one of those small-talk subjects we fall back on if our conversation with an acquaintance is stalling, since it is a shared experience. In writing, discussing weather—especially storms—has become a red flag for melodrama and banality. Just as in the conversation with an acquaintance, it is often a crutch. Continue reading “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

This has been an emotional week! Here is some love from the Interwebs to send you into the weekend, which will be fabulous.

  • We had to say goodbye to David Bowie. There’s an amazing tribute gif of Bowie floating around the Internet right now that shows his ability to be a chameleon so very well.
  • We had to say goodbye to Alan Rickman, too. Emma Thompson’s statement about losing Rickman was so moving. I raise my wand, sir.

Happy Friday, friends!

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | January 2016

Every month, the Chicago Manual of Style folks answer questions they’ve received. Following are a couple excerpts from the Q&A of January 2016. To read the full month’s Q&A, visit

where to purchase Keppra Q. Hello! Is the following sentence grammatically correct? “Good news is, at Microsoft we are here to help!”

why not try here A. Your sentence is casual—almost slangy—because it leaves out words for the listener/reader to fill in: “The good news is that at Microsoft we are here to help!” Although your sentence is technically grammatical, it doesn’t reflect formal English grammar. Of course, in advertising not many people expect formal English grammar.

Q. My 15th edition (7.18) cites “Kansas’s legislature” as an example, whereas 7.19 has “the United States’ role” as another. Am I correct to use “Paris’s sights,” “Philippines’ sights,” and “Seychelles’ sights” under 7.19? Could I also conclude that 7.18 is used mainly for states (like Kansas and Texas) in a country (like the US) and 7.19 strictly for countries?

A. The distinction is not between states and countries, but between names with a singular form (Paris, Kansas, Cyprus, Barbados) and nouns that take a plural form although they are singular in meaning (United States, Seychelles, Chicago Heights, Philippines). The singular forms make the possessive with the addition of an apostrophe and an s (Paris’s, Kansas’s, Cyprus’s, Barbados’s); for nouns with a plural form, add only the apostrophe for the possessive (United States’, Seychelles’, Philippines’).

Friday Fun Facts #11

559143_602284835083_291886449_nLesley’s weirdest project was editing a book “written by God.” According to the client, God told her what to write, and she copied it down exactly as he told her. She became quite angry when Lesley edited the work (which was what she had been hired to do) because one “should not dare edit God!” After much discussion, it was agreed that God did not spell out words or indicate punctuation in his delivery, and therefore, Lesley could make such changes.

Rachel’s weirdest job was being a Civil War Reenactor at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site. She led tours; played the psaltry; taught guests how to weave baskets, dip candles, and make paper; and walked around gaily in a hoopskirt. Here is creepy little Rachel (on right).Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2016, everyone! One thing many people do at the turn of the new year is write resolutions about health, wealth, relationships, and the like. But how about resolutions about writing?

Here are some writing resolutions we’ve culled from around the Internet. Which ones speak to you?

  • Write when you don’t feel like it. If you only write when you feel like it, you’ll never get very far. Make yourself a writing schedule and stick to it. Reward yourself when you do. person-woman-desk-laptopConsider a writing buddy or a writing class. Make time for yourself and your craft.
  • Read widely. The better read you are, the better a writer you’ll be. Learn from those who have published before you. Look at their structure and word choice, their chapter length and story arc. Read what you love to read so you are immersed in the world of words.
  • Embrace your personal writing style. You have your own voice as an author whether you realize it yet or not. Find that voice. It may take parts from the writers who have shaped you thus far, but it will also be yours. Don’t try to sound like a writer—that never works out well. Find your cadence and embrace it.
  • Break a rule. Try a different approach, like writing in second person or outlawing any form of to be. Use these changes as opportunities to explore and expand your writing style. In the same vein, they may help you better define your voice as writer.
  • Submit work. Do your research about the journals and magazines your work may best fit, and get your words out there! Also, be sure to not let the rejection letters stop you. Know ahead of time they will outnumber the acceptance letters, and keep trying!
  • Call yourself a writer. If you write, you are a writer. Own it! Make it part of your identity! Labeling yourself as such will help you accomplish the rest of these resolutions.

Best of luck with all of your endeavors this new year!


Sources: Goins, Writer; Writer’s Digest; About Careers