Friday Fun Facts: Book Vending Machines

2013-03-24-penguincubatorHave you ever stared at a soda machine and wished the sodas were books? No? Ummm, me neither . . .

It turns out, book vending machines have been trying to catch on for a long time. Like since 1822. Granted, the first purpose was questionable (getting dirty books into readers’ hands without incriminating the publisher), but we’ve come a long way since then. Right? As early as 1937, there was the Penguincubator, with all the lovely Penguin books in row. There’s something quite special about seeing a mass of color-coded Penguin books together.

Even though these machines never really gained popularity, they still exist in a few places—probably because of readers (like me) who panic when they’ve forgotten to bring a book.

  • Singapore is ahead of the curve in this field. Each of their machines is filled with up to 150 books that focus on the local publishers and authors.
  • The Monkey’s Paw machine in Toronto is just gorgeous. I would totally put one of these in my living room.
  • And finally, just last month Detroit got some machines for young readers, thanks to Victoria Justice and Justin Upton. With their program, “the machines will be installed at locations across the city and provide free books to kids living in ‘book deserts,’ or areas where they have limited access to buy age-appropriate books.”

The important thing is to become (and stay) a voracious reader. If you’re not lucky enough to live near one of these machines, see if your neighborhood has a little free library. Or visit the actual library.

Having easy access to books helps keep us informed and imaginative and so much more. So keep reading!

Before I send you on your way, I want to remind you to send us a book selfie! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Happy Friday, all!

Formatting Tricks in Word

So, a while back, we told you not to overemphasize text with features in Word. Just don’t. There are, however, other ways to format your text in Word. Let’s take a look at hanging indents and styles.

Hanging Indent

One that many people get confused about is the hanging indent. This is when the first line is a full line, and the following lines are indented. This treatment is often used for lists and bibliographies. First, go to the view tab. Make sure the checkbox by “ruler” is selected. Then drag the bottom tab on the ruler to the right to adjust the hanging indent. Continue reading “Formatting Tricks in Word”

Friday Fun Facts: CMS Rules

The_Chicago_Manual_of_Style_16th_editionHappy Friday! We can’t wait to start getting your book selfies. They’re going to be awesome.

Today, I thought we’d take a look at just how detailed the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is. (CMS is our editorial bible, if you will.) This style guide is much more involved than most style guides, which helps us make quick decisions and keep our texts consistent. In fact, even when I’m working on a project that uses APA or MLA, I fall back to CMS for topics those style guides don’t cover.

How many of the following CMS rules did you already know?

find 6.21 Omitting serial commas before ampersands

When an ampersand is used instead of the word and (as in company names), the serial comma is omitted.

Winken, Blinken & Nod is a purveyor of nightwear.

buy lasix for dogs 13.27 Run-in poetry quotations

If space or context in the text or in a note requires that two or more lines be run in, the lines are separated by a slash, with one space on either side (in printed works, a thin space to an en space).

Andrew Marvell’s praise of John Milton, “Thou has not missed one thought that could be fit, / And all that was improper does omit” (“On Paradise Lost”), might well serve as our motto.

For running in more than one stanza (to be avoided if at all possible), see 13.32.

Continue reading “Friday Fun Facts: CMS Rules”

Book Selfies: A Challenge

It’s almost August, and you know what that means: a new challenge! August’s challenge is something we are calling “book selfies.” There are some amazing covers out there, and we want you to integrate them into your life.

Here are some great examples from a school project and a library project.


sample_1 sample_2

So get out that cover art and incorporate it into your world! Once you’re satisfied with your photo, follow these steps:

  • Send the photo to
  • Tell us the title and author of the book, and let us know if you have a caption.
  • Sit back and relax! We’ll start posting the book cover selfies in August.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

Happy Friday, friends. We hope you have lovely summer adventures planned for the weekend! Here are some amazing prompts from the Internet to keep you writing.

  • Who else loves The Little Prince? The video above contains all the non-CGI moments edited into a single short.
  • Need a regular source of writing prompts in the fall? Check out Prompt. It will send you a daily email, to which you can respond however you like. The next day, you get to read everyone else’s responses to that same prompt!
  • What would happen if you dropped your character into a garden of death? You can even visit one for research!
  • Is the secret life of bugs a collection of ancient warriors? Pascal Goet’s photography series “Mask” makes you wonder.
  • Dr. Seuss taxidermy

“Creation is in large part of merely the business of
forgoing the great and small distractions.”
– E. B. White

Happy writing!

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | July 2016

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

Q. Our marketing people want to know which is correct: The buyer(s) purchase a policy or the buyer(s) purchases a policy.

A. Neither is correct. The optional plural doesn’t work as the subject of a sentence; it works only as an object: “The title, along with the name(s) of the editor(s), appears on page 3.” One solution is to spell out your meaning and make the verb agree with the nearer subject: The buyer or buyers purchase a policy.

Q. Is it okay to capitalize Modernist when speaking of the twentieth-century movement in English literature? Many sources favor the lowercase, but I’ve always done the opposite.

A. Either way is acceptable. Chicago style prefers the lowercase, but an editor should defer if possible to a writer who has reason to depart from style.

The Prude and the Prig


By Lesley Bolton

She sued her former boss and won a juicy settlement in court. He had been spreading gossip about his coworkers. She was shocked by the impropriety of his behavior. There was never a hint of scandal during her time in office. She was a very prim and proper young lady and had the reputation of being clever. “That’s a lot of poppycock!” she exclaimed. Then came the news: plans were being made to terminate unproductive employees. She would bring down the wrath of the gods. Or at least the wrath of Sylvia: she’s one of the strictest judges in the state. Oh yes, they received justice in court. Propriety won the day!

If you have a dictionary story, send it in!

Friday Facts: Peace


The world is breaking our hearts this week. Needless death seems to be everywhere. So, today, we are breaking from our focus on the fields of publishing and writing to bring you words of peace.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
John Lennon

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Peace begins with a smile.”
Mother Teresa

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

“This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.”
Leonard Bernstein

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
Albert Einstein

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.
Then he becomes your partner.”
Nelson Mandela

If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books.
Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.”
Malala Yousafzai

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it.
And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Peace be with you, friends.

If you have a dictionary story to share, send it in—we’re still looking for submissions. Here are the sample sentences for peace from Merriam-Webster:

  1. After many years of war, people on both sides were longing for peace.

  2. We said a prayer for world peace.

  3. He tried to negotiate a peace between the warring countries.

  4. There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.

  5. Peace and order were finally restored in the town.

  6. After years of therapy, he has finally achieved an inner peace.

  7. He is searching for inner peace.

  8. Insurance can provide you with peace of mind.

  9. The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

  10. They are at peace with each other.


Grandmother Nature

by Rachel Rosolina

photo by Rachel Rosolina
photo by Rachel Rosolina

It was so hot that we were all waving our hands in front of our faces to cool off—a stretch of dry weather. Crop failure was likely to spell stark famine, but millions of plants and animals live in the sea.

Our driver, a creature of rare beauty, had lived on the island all her life and was adept at negotiating the narrow, winding roads along the island’s coast. She was gasping for air, but there was no reason to get into a panic. Always a hard worker, Grandma has remained healthy into her 80s: “I’ll never give up as long as I’m still breathing.” She opened a window to let in some air. After all, she is an herbalist and self-proclaimed witch. She handles her problems with grace and dignity.

A stick was floating on the stagnant water. I glanced at my watch. We were given a relatively short amount of time to finish the job. She broke into tears, crying with relief—storms of emotion. With a sudden shower, seaweed was cast up by the waves and the streams teemed with fish. Grateful thanks.

If you have a dictionary story, send it in!

A Colorful Encounter

by Krista Williams

moundIt was a gray winter day. An argentine sky hinted at a coming storm. His hair was dyed blond, a new pitcher who’s pretty green, even by rookie standards. “This may be your golden moment to impress a baseball scout, so don’t blow it.” He turned white when he heard the news. He was too yellow to stand up and fight.

If you have a dictionary story, send it in!