Prompts from the Interwebs

We’ve made it to another Friday, friends. (This one is an accomplishment for Rachel, since this was her first week back after a trip to Costa Rica. Yeah, it was as beautiful as you’re imagining. #notsorry)

To begin the weekend right, let’s explore the magic of the Internet for inspiration. It’s chock-full of stories, essays, and poems waiting to be written. Let us know how you end up using them!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Muir of the Mountains

John Muir 1902
John Muir ca. 1902 via Wikipedia

Yesterday was the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Hooray! One of the OG activists for national parks was none other than John Muir. This prolific adventurer wrote hundreds of articles and dozens of books about the natural world. He also cofounded the Sierra Club in 1892. All of this work helped the US recognize the beauty within our borders and the need to preserve it.

To celebrate this centennial, we want to share a few of Muir’s moving words, which literally saved mountains. Continue reading “Muir of the Mountains”

Prompts from the Interwebs

It’s already mid-August, y’all! How did that happen? To ease you into your weekend, here are some prompts from the wondrous void that is the Internet.

The School of Life gives you permission to stare out that window.

We leave you with a quote to take into your weekend.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. —George Bernard Shaw

Friday Fun Facts: Sports Writing

olympicsAs we can see by the intense coverage of the Olympics, there is something fascinating and inspiring about sports. When hard work and talent combine, amazing things can happen. Perhaps we even hope to see a little of ourselves in these athletes who have overcome challenges to stand before the world stage in glory. Despite my lack of any athletic ability whatsoever, many of my friends in publishing are excellent athletes, from running to roller derby to soccer. To celebrate the 2016 games, I’ve tracked down some great sports writing quotes to keep us inspired.


“I later discovered that in order to be a good athlete one must care intensely what is happening with a ball, even if one doesn’t have possession of it. This was ultimately my failure: my inability to work up a passion for the location of balls.” Haven Kimmel, Girl Named Zippy


“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running


“A top athlete’s beauty is next to impossible to describe directly. Or to evoke. Federer’s forehand is a great liquid whip, his backhand a one-hander that he can drive flat, load with topspin, or slice—the slice with such snap that the ball turns shapes in the air and skids on the grass to maybe ankle height. His serve has world-class pace and a degree of placement and variety no one else comes close to; the service motion is lithe and uneccentric, distinctive (on TV) only in a certain eel-like all-body snap at the moment of impact. His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game—as a child, he was also a soccer prodigy. All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play. Of witnessing, firsthand, the beauty and genius of his game. You more have to come at the aesthetic stuff obliquely, to talk around it, or—as Aquinas did with his own ineffable subject—to try to define it in terms of what it is not.” ― David Foster Wallace, “Federer as Religious Experience”


“The pleasure of sport was so often the chance to indulge the cessation of time itself—the pitcher dawdling on the mound, the skier poised at the top of a mountain trail, the basketball player with the rough skin of the ball against his palm preparing for a foul shot, the tennis player at set point over his opponent—all of them savoring a moment before committing themselves to action.” ― George Plimpton, Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback


“Pain? Yes, of course. Racing without pain is not racing. But the pleasure of being ahead outweighed the pain a million times over. To hell with the pain. What’s six minutes of pain compared to the pain they’re going to feel for the next six months or six decades. You never forget your wins and losses in this sport.” ― Brad Alan Lewis, Assault on Lake Casitas

Enjoy the motivational fury that is the Olympics! Happy Friday!


Friday Fun Facts # 18


Rachel got to see a corpse flower blooming! His name is Wally, and he didn’t smell as bad as you’d think—more like old gym socks.

Rachel the human with Wally the corpse flower.
Rachel the human with Wally the corpse flower.

Lesley prefers less smelly, not-as-big-as-your head flora and therefore spends her outdoor free time searching for (and finding; she has a knack) those little good-luck charms, four-leaf clovers.

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!

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?

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.

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”

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!

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.


Friday Fun Facts # 17

We had SO much fun in June with your book spine poems. Thank you for making it such a successful challenge! This month, we will be sharing dictionary stories! But in order to do so, we need YOU (yes, you) to write one and send it our way. It can be long, short, funny, or sad. Or it can be all of those. We can’t wait to read your masterpieces!

Now, for your monthly installment of Geez, Lesley and Rachel Are Weird.


Lesley and her dear friend Sue labored over a drink recipe for what seemed like hours. Finally, they succeeded . . . in making what was essentially Sprite.

Rachel became a meme for a little while. What? Sledding makes your face do funny things . . .