Friday, August 21, 2009

The Eve of Ramadan: Aug. 21, 2009

It is confirmed. Ramadan will officially begin Saturday in the U.S. and most in countries that celebrate Ramadan. Like my sister said, "It seems like the majority of Muslims are starting on the same day." I agreed with her. I heard only two countries that began Ramadan on Friday. Could be a good sign.

I will once again journaling my days during Ramadan. Can't promise you if it will be exciting or adventurous. However, I can promise you that you will see a beautiful experience that occurs during Ramadan.

Just to clarify Ramadan is a month (about 29 or 30 days) when able-bodied Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Muslims are exempt from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intercourse, and as well as working on building excellent character. Once it sunsets, Muslims come together and break their fast with either a sip of water or some dates. After the fifth prayer of the day, Salatul Isha, Salatul Taraweeh takes place in mosques around the world. In Salatul Taraweeh, the Imam (religious or spiritual leader) will begin up prayers and begin with first Surah, Chapter in the Quran. He will recite so many Chapters per night, thus reciting the entire Quran in about 29 or 30 days. (There is 114 Chapters).

I invite you my dear readers to come back everyday and also to comment and post questions. For those that will fast during Ramadan: Have a Happy and Blessed Ramadan!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Birthin' a Book & Lessons Learned

A few weeks ago Kai and I were discussing "having a baby" and "writing/publishing a book". She asked about why I made the analogy about birthing a baby and a book. So here is a little more discussion on that topic.

Let's see how we make a baby. (Sorry, no videos for this one!)

Girl meets Boy & They Fall In Love
There's a proposal.
They Get Married (hey, its my analogy so we're going down the traditional path! )
They have a honeymoon and love each other A LOT.
They work hard at their marriage, realizing it's not like the movies.
They Get Pregnant.
For nine months she's a little crazy.
For nine months he's a little afraid.
They prepare, they read books, they ask other people.
They get lots and lots of unsolicited advice and everyone contradicts each other.
Labour begins and they realize they couldn't have prepared for this.
Baby enters the world.
They realize that there's a lot more work AFTER baby arrives than BEFORE!

So how do we make a book?

Writer gets a great idea and loves it a lot.
There's a proposal. The writer writes it. No rings involved.
Writer finds an agent and signs with her.
They like each other a lot.
Writer gets an offer from a traditional publisher. (Hey, again, it's my analogy!)
They sign the contract! Nine months until delivery!
For nine months the writer is a little crazy.
For nine months the writer's family is a little afraid.
Writer does lots of research, writer interviews a lot of people. Some people contradict others.
It's down to the wire and there are bits to review and edits to make.
Deadlines within deadlines come hard and fast.
The book arrives.
The writer realizes that there's a lot of work after the book arrives. Marketing, writing, interviewing, obsessively checking Amazon stats, wondering when it will ship, holding contests, getting press.....

Now, neither of these represents a complaint about the process. I loved being pregnant (if I had my druthers...) and I loved getting a contract and writing my book. But they were both learning experiences, especially the first ones!

I learned:

1) Plan ahead to be done all tasks before your deadline/delivery date.
2) Don't think you know it all.
3) Research like crazy.
4) Asking for advice will result in better info than receiving unsolicited advice.
5) There are people around you whose job it is to help you. Accept their help.

(Cross-posted at The Writing Mother)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growing into my very geeky job

When this blog first started I'd *just* been accepted into a University course in Creative writing and Criminology. I dropped the 'criminology' part, and focussed, instead, on Psychology for the five 'spare slots' that I had. That was just under two years ago - and last year, around this time, I finally worked out what I wanted to do when I graduated.
It's been a long path this year - because soon after I researched and discovered the fun that is my new carreer (and it's FUN with several invisible exclamation points after :D) I was quite badly injured - something I haven't - really - recovered from. But this week I finally, perfectly, married my love of writing with my love of psychology and crime, in a not unexpected (for me) way. And I'm hoping over the next couple of months that I can share it with you guys and other writers.

And that's why I'm so geeked out right now. I can do this - and I can teach it, and write about it, and talk about it passionately. It's growing, with my interest, and it's just about boundless.
And that's where I am. Training to be a forensic linguist 'by day', via a degree in Creative Writing and Psychology, and a postgrad diploma, and working on this 'by night'. I'll get to geek about it properly very soon, but until then I'm just delighted to get to take a run at it. Till then it's kinda hush hush, cause the platform is probably a 'one off' and I want to be fully ready to do it. But yay!

How's your summer looking?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Here! It's Here!

Finally, finally, finally.... I'm holding it in my hand.... my first baby book!

In case you are wondering. I sold this book in October 2007.

That's a 20 month gestation period.


Monday, June 22, 2009

An analogy that fits

Since my head injury I've found there are times that I can't sit at my computer, and I need to think about writing, but not in that active, 'I'm brainstorming' way.
So I took up knitting again, and have discovered the addictiveness of actually completing something that's small and useful.
I remember feeling that way, in the start about articles and content that was being crafted especially for clients. I'd make a made to order set of articles, each word carefully locked into place and each concept made stronger by it's surrounding ones. Dishcloths might be shorter articles, but blankets are whole chapters of books.
So instead of sitting and mindlessly staring at the TV all day, I knit. I think about stories and I let things just cascade into place.

It's an analogy that might just fit for most of us - we craft something out of the other materials - and taking it right back, most of us 'spin' our wool from the words that are fed in, before repurposing it to something else. I get the feeling that it's going to be very difficult to work this summer on much, writing wise, but I can knit whenever I've got a spare few minutes.

What craft analogy can you find for writing and the craft of your choice?

(xposted to exceptionalmundane)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Interview: Christina Katz

Today I'm featuring a Guest Post by author Christina Katz. I have been inspired and encouraged by Christina's writing for many years now and love her writing! So enjoy...

Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform


Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals. Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).

Q: What is a platform?

CK: Long story short: Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Get Known explains in plain English, without buzzwords, how any writer can stand out from the crowd of other writers and get the book deal. The book clears an easy-to-follow path through a formerly confusing forest of ideas so any writer can do the necessary platform development they need to do.

Q: Why is platform development important for writers today?

CK: Learning about and working on a solid platform plan gives writers an edge. Agents and editors have known this for years and have been looking for platform-strong writers and getting them book deals. But from the writer’s point-of-view, there has not been enough information on platform development to help unprepared writers put their best platform forward.

Now suddenly, there is a flood of information on platform, not all necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized for folks who don’t have a platform yet. Writers can promote themselves in a gradual, grounded manner without feeling like they are selling out. I do it, I teach other writers to do it, I write about it on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all writers to heed the trend. And hopefully, I communicate how in a practical, step-by-step manner that can serve any writer. Because ultimately, before you actively begin promoting yourself, platform development is an inside job requiring concentration, thoughtfulness and a consideration of personal values.

Q: How did you come to write Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: I already had a lot of momentum going when I got the deal for a very specific audience. I wrote a column on the topic for the Willamette Writer’s newsletter. Then I started speaking on platform. When I gave my presentation, “Get Known Before the Book Deal,” at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference in May 2007, Phil Sexton, one of my publisher’s sales guys, saw it and suggested making the concept into a book. Coincidentally, I was trying to come up with an idea for my second book at that time and had just struck out with what I thought were my three best ideas. My editor, Jane Friedman agreed with Phil. That was two votes from people sitting on the pub board. They converted the others with the help of my proposal, and Get Known got the green light.

Q: Why was a book on platform development needed?

CK: Writers often underestimate how important platform is and they often don’t leverage the platform they already have enough. At every conference I presented, I took polls and found that about 50 percent of attendees expressed a desire for a clearer understanding of platform. Some were completely in the dark about it, even though they were attending a conference in hopes of landing a book deal. Since book deals are granted based largely on the impressiveness of a writer’s platform, I noticed a communication gap that needed to be addressed.

My intention was that Get Known would be the book every writer would want to read before attending a writer’s conference, and that it would increase any writer’s chances of landing a book deal whether they pitched in-person or by query. As I wrote the book, I saw online how this type of information was being offered as “insider secrets” at outrageous prices. No one should have to pay thousands of dollars for the information they can find in my book for the price of a paperback! Seriously. You can even ask your library to order it and read it for free.

Q: What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: Getting known doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take an in-depth understanding of platform, and then the investment of time, skills and consistent effort to build one. Marketing experience and technological expertise are also not necessary. I show how to avoid the biggest time and money-waster, which is not understanding who your platform is for and why – and hopefully save writers from the confusion and inertia that can result from either information overload or not taking the big picture into account before they jump into writing for traditional publication.

Often writers with weak platforms are over-confident that they can impress agents and editors, while others with decent platforms are under-confident or aren’t stressing their platform-strength enough. Writers have to wear so many hats these days, we can use all the help we can get. Platform development is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Anyone can do it, but most don’t or won’t because they either don’t understand what is being asked for, or they haven’t overcome their own resistance to the idea. Get Known offers a concrete plan that can help any writer make gains in the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.

Q: What is the structure of the book and why did you choose it?

CK: Writer Mama was written in small, easy-to-digest chunks so busy new moms could stick it in a diaper bag and read it in the nooks and crannies of the day. Get Known is a bit more prosaic, especially in the early chapters. Most of the platform books already out there were only for authors, not writers or aspiring authors. To make platform evolution easy to comprehend, I had to dial the concepts back to the beginning and talk about what it’s like to try and find your place in the world as an author way before you’ve signed a contract, even before you’ve written a book proposal. No one had done that before in a book for writers. I felt writers needed a context in which to chart a course towards platform development that would not be completely overwhelming.

Introducing platform concepts to writers gives them the key information they need to succeed at pitching an agent either via query or in-person, making this a good book for a writer to read before writing a book proposal. Get Known has three sections: section one is mostly stories and cautionary tales, section two has a lot of to-do lists any writer should be able to use, and section three is how to articulate your platform clearly and concisely so you won’t waste a single minute wondering if you are on the right track.

Q: At the front of Get Known, you discuss four phases of the authoring process. What are they?

CK: First comes the platform development and building phase. Second comes the book proposal development phase (or if you are writing fiction, the book-writing phase). Third, comes the actual writing of the book (for fiction writers this is likely the re-writing of the book). And finally, once the book is published, comes the book marketing and promoting phase.

Many first-time authors scramble once they get a book deal if they haven’t done a thorough job on the platform development phase. Writers who already have a platform have influence with a fan base, and they can leverage that influence no matter what kind of book they write. Writing a book is a lot easier if you are not struggling to find readers for the book at the same time. Again, agents and editors have known this for a long time.

Q: What are some common platform mistakes writers make?

CK: Here are a few:

  • They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
  • They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
  • They confuse socializing with platform development.
  • They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
  • They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
  • They don’t create a plan before they jump online.
  • They undervalue the platform they already have.
  • They are overconfident and think they have a solid platform when they have only made a beginning.
  • They become exhausted from trying to figure out platform as they go.
  • They pay for “insider secrets” instead of trusting their own instincts.
  • They blog like crazy for six months and then look at their bank accounts and abandon the process as going nowhere.

I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

My mission is to empower writers to be 100 percent responsible for their writing career success and stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there.

Q: Couldn’t any author have written this book? Why you?

CK: I have built a career over the past decade empowering writers. I’ve developed and built my own platform as a writing-for-traditional-publication specialist, and I’ve worked with others as a writing and platform-development instructor. Many of the people I’ve been working with are landing book deals and while the other hundred-or-so writers I work with a year are developing their skills, I notice patterns of behavior—what leads to success, where writers get stuck, and how I can be helpful in these rapidly changing times in the industry.

I’ve witnessed too many writers, who were off to a great start, hopping online and quickly becoming very lost. I started to write about platform in Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, but I quickly noticed that more details on platform development were desperately needed. My platform is based on helping others. I have a vested interest in seeing the people I work with—and those who read my book—succeed. Writers are my tribe.

Thanks Christina! (Cross-posted at The Writing Mother.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mama has her contract (kinda)!

I'm sorry I've been missing lately - it's been mad around here with end of year work for Uni, a photog shoot that just wouldn't line up with everyone that wanted to be there (and I can't post my part in it because it's 'ghostcamera' work - a bit like ghostwriting, just I loaned body pieces (my back specifically, because of my biohazard tattoo) and other fun stuff.

BUT - got my grades back this week and found out I got 3 B's and 2 D's (where the 2 D's are appealable because you can see where I was coping with my head injury (badly), or at least explainable), giving me a high 2:2 (C) for the year overall. Worse than 1st year, but in 1st year, I didn't have memory problems and serious trauma based writers 'block'.

And then, the week before we went off for the year, I wrote a book proposal, based on some of the stuff I'm studying right now (linguistics, forensics and some other stuff) and discovered I'd hit onto a great idea.
This morning I got my partial request back - with a note saying that they would want to see the rest once they'd evaluated this part unless my query didn't live up to the reality.
Contract for me!
And I'm back to blog. have you been?

Monday, May 18, 2009


Let it be known that I'm the first to use this word. :)

verb: the act of procrastinating via twitter

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Just finished watching a documentary with Michael J Fox and his take on optimism. It was quite inspiring because he's simply an uplifting, beautiful person. I'm sure he has his dark moments, but overall, this is a guy who has taken what many might see as a death sentence and turn it into something to work towards.

(I recently purchased his book, Always Looking Up, but I haven't had the chance to read it just yet.)

In the documentary, they spoke about Bhutan, a country that focuses quite a bit of energy on their Gross National Happiness. While it has a lot to do with Buddhist values, I can still appreciate the value of choosing happiness and optimism above the alternative. I don't know if I'm a pessimist or optimist, I am hopeful, but at the same time, I always need to know what the Worst Possible Outcome is so that I can be prepared.

But it did get me thinking about the choices we make in our life and how they might define if we are optimists or pessimists.

Take freelance writers. We work at a career that is not guaranteed to leave us rolling in the dough. Quite contrary... most freelancers are earning below the poverty line in North America. But we still do it.

Or look at the 36,000 jobs that were added to the Canadian economy last month. A pessimist might say "oh yeah, but they were self employed jobs..." an optimist might say "these people choose to go start their own businesses rather than sit on social assistance".

I think that it might be our choices in life that reveal how we think. Do you keep writing query letters despite the rejections? Do we keep pitching book proposals despite the lack of response? Do we push the limits of what we can do, trusting that we will have the resources to finish what we start?

(x-posted at The Writing Mother)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My own brand of crazy...

The other day my husband and I were having a "discussion" about my writing. Normally I don't post anything about our "discussions". (If you're reading those air quotes correctly, you'll know I mean "argument".)

He says I'm a bear to live with when I'm on deadline. I say that they only time I can convince him to watch the kids so I can write is when I'm on deadline. When the deadline is farther away (wait... further?) there's no NEED to write. Just the want. And we don't ask our husbands to watch the kids so we can go off and do something we want. Right? Right?

Maybe it's just me.

This was a tough argument because he felt that writing has an "emotional withdrawal" from our family bank account with less "emotional deposits".

And this is because the emotional deposit goes only into MY emotional bank, he says. I tried the "when mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy" bit. And there's some truth to that, I am happier when I'm more fulfilled. But how much does the family need to give for my happiness?

But wait, how much are they actually giving?

Yes, I'm a bear when I'm on deadline and I'm insistent upon getting time to write whether it's downstairs in our basement, out at a coffee shop.... wherever. Is me not being there THAT much of a drain?

He says "the woman's traditional role is to nurture".

After I took off my corset and burned my bra, I asked him what the traditional man's role is... and why *I* was doing that too. You know, out earning money in the workforce.

No answer.

I love winning "discussions".

What are your thoughts?

(Cross posted at The Writing Mother)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two things - a contract and rebranding

First up.
Not only do I have a contract (anthology) signed, sealed, and delivered, but I also have our book cover to show off! I'll announce again when the book is actually *out* but Footnotes to a Lesson, described as my 'thinking man's zombie' story is appearing in the 'Dead Worlds' Anthology, eta July 2009.

The story, which was the first one I waved at my new tutor after xmas has been highly praised but really *really* hard to place, because the protagonist isn't a traditional inhabitant of a zombie tale - and to be completely honest, I do some fairly gross, and unexpected things to her.

But it's in this anthology - under my pen name 'Sabrann Curach' (I hope!) which is really cool. Mama got a book contract ;)

And onto point two - I'm in the process of a massive shakeup of all of my 'stuff'. As I have stupid amounts of 'stuff' scattered all over the web (I am the proverbial spoiled child in a candy store because I can write, code and design quite readily - in other words I've got no barriers to creation - just upkeep!) it's taking me a while, but it got me thinking about rebranding.
As a starter, before I start sharing links and stuff, cause this will be a topic I'll be on for a while, do you have a brand? Are you at a point where you could start bringing stuff together and create a solid concept brand or are you scattered like me?
Is there anything YOU need ideas to get to or brainstorming? Stick em in the comments and we'll see what we can do ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Forget Celebrating Strunk & White

April 16 is the 50th anniversary of that little grammar guide, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, but should writers celebrate?

One writer and professor, Geoffrey K. Pullum, says he won't celebrate in an article published recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Pullum ends his argument by stating, "I've spent too much of my scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way. English syntax is a deep and interesting subject. It is much too important to be reduced to a bunch of trivial don't-do-this prescriptions by a pair of idiosyncratic bumblers who can't even tell when they've broken their own misbegotten rules."

Basically, Pullum argues that Strunk and White didn't understand or follow many of the grammatical rules the pair touted. Pullum also notes that some of the original text written by Strunk was later revised by White including additions and deletions that didn't exist in the original nor did those additions or deletions make sense.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed's web site is a subscription-based site, but here is the link to Pullum's article titled, "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice."

And here is an article that doesn't mention the bad quality of the advice but does talk about the anniversary published in Newsday.

And supporting Pullum's more recent article is an article published in 2005, which Pullum applauded, by Jan Freeman titled, "Frankenstrunk."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Amazon Deleting Reviews Online

Recently, I was forwarded an email from Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, Author and Book Marketing Coach. It seems that she started to notice some of her reviews were being deleted. Not just ones for her books, but reviews for other books.

I am sending this to ALL writing associations I belong to because I really want you to have this information before Amazon deletes all your reviews.

A week ago I found that all 85 of the reviews I've written for other books had been deleted. It has been a very difficult and stressful week dealing with Amazon. They are not very accessible and I was given at least 3 different reasons for why my reviews had been deleted. After numerous emails, this is what it's come down to:

Their final ruling: "Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews."

If you sign your review with anything other than your name, your reviews could be deleted. If any of you are in the habit of signing your reviews with something like ".., author of Whale Song", which has been common practice for years, Amazon has deemed this as "inappropriate" and will be deleting them. It seems they're on a campaign to go through reviews posted. They recently made changes to the Amazon Connect program and all our blogs were temporarily gone too. Most are back up.

They also will delete your reviews if you have added the book link (that they supply) and directed it to your own book title's Amazon page. Many authors have used that in their signature line. It can lead to deleteion and suspension, according to Amazon's latest email.

I argued the fact that thousands of authors sign their reviews like this, and that it's common practice in our inductry. I was told by my last publisher to sign my reviews like this; he even wanted us to include the ISBN, which I only did a couple of times then stopped. It made no difference to Amazon that this is what my publisher wanted me to do; they aren't accepting signatures with titles.

Amazon is starting to take note of such practices and you'll get no notice; they'll just pull all the reviews you have written. That's what they did with me, even though many of my older reviews were signed with just my name.

So to clarify, according to Amazon, when posting a review, you are not allowed to have a signature of anything more than your name, and NO links to or mention of your books whatsoever in the review or sig line. I am giving you the heads-up now so you can go in and edit your reviews if you choose. That's what I'd do, to be honest, because fighting with Amazon is not easy. There is no one who will talk to you by phone, and waiting for their response is not easy. This rule also applies to any comments you leave on a book review. Amazon does not want authors to mention their own books anywhere on the reviewpages.

I haven't heard from yet, but I expect this will be funneled over to all the Amazons, so I'll be working on editing my reviews there next week.

Please forward this on to all authors you know and any writing organizations or associations you belong to.

Thanks for letting us know, Cheryl! By the way, you can find out more about her latest book, Whale Song, over at her web site!

(Cross-posted at The Writing Mother.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Help! I have a fiction idea and I give up!

Truthfully I have always wanted to be a fiction writer. And yet here I am, with the non fiction. And I like to read non fiction, but I LOVE fiction. It's the dessert and the non fiction is the steak. So I live vicariously through other writers:

Joshilyn Jackson
Shirley Jump
Sheila Curran
Jennifer O'Connell
Shanna Swendson
Jennifer Weiner

The problem is that whenever I come up with a great idea, I immediately thing, "oh yeah, that's a great idea because I heard it... wherever". Either it spikes in my brain for about 1.5 minutes and then I realize what a tired idea it was... or it doesn't even become fully formed before I shoot it down.

Except earlier this week I was thinking about one of my customers and something he said... and it spawned an idea, which spawned an idea and soon I thought "this is a REALLY good idea!" and it's stuck for the last week.

Except! I'm almost scared to put words onto page... I know my process for writing non fiction, but I'm afraid if I put my idea onto page... I might somehow wreck it. Weird, huh?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Touch Typing Typical?

I am a touch typist, which means I can type without looking at the keyboard. It has been years since my typing skills have been timed, but I suspect that I am well over 100 words per minute for typing, and pretty close to that when I compose as well.

I learned to type when I was a freshman in high school. I had one semester of typing, and we were typing on very old, very stiff manual typewriters. It was when writing was loud work (I love my silent computer keyboard, but even my silent version is a bit noisy.) Although I didn't know it then, that class was one of the most valuable classes I took in high school. Being able to type saved me a lot of time in the future. I can't imagine working with a deadline and not being a fast touch typist.

But I wonder if I am the norm among writers? Are most writers touch typists? Or am I strange?

And am I *really* a touch typist? I have the alphabet completely memorized, and I can type words without any hesitation what so ever, but I need to sneak a peak on the those rare occasions when I have to hit keys I don't normally use -- like most of the F keys and some of the less used shift options on the number keys like ^ which is what you get when you hit shift AND the 6 key. Confession: When it comes to touch typing numbers, I prefer the number key pad to the numbers spread out above the letters. Alas, my laptop does not have the number key pad.

And when it comes to all of the variables available on a computer keyboard like the function key and the windows key and the page up, down, etc., I have no idea. I don't use them often, and if I do, I have to look. But keys I use frequently, like the "CTRL, ALT, DELETE" combo, I figure out even though placement tends to vary from keyboard to keyboard.

I know it wasn't that long ago that I read a post by Jenny Crusie that she was buying a keyboard that was completely blank, and I knew as I looked at a picture of the black blank keyboard that I am not that good nor would I ever be that good. I can get by with the keys that I have worn so much that you can no longer see the letter, but I can't go completely blank on a computerized keyboard. I have been using my current laptop since May, and the N key is starting to get stabbing marks on it from my fingernails and the "N" is slowly disappearing. I suspect it will be completely gone sometime this summer.

I know that for me, I have to be a touch typist. I'd never be able to do the writing work that I do without the ability to touch type. But I realize that there is more than one way to be a writer. I've never tried options like the voice to text options, but I've heard good things about them. Plus once, long ago, I used to write by hand and then type things up on a electric typewriter with the aid of a lot of Wite-out and patience. So there are other options to knowing how to touch type.

I once tried to sell my electric typewriter in a yard sale, but my mom bought it. And for a while, I was collecting very old manual typewriters, but they take up a lot of space and are very happy. I now only own one Underwood, which is a very old manual. I've never really typed on it, but I like having it in my office.

And it seems I am not alone in hanging onto old typewriters. NPR promoted the love of typewriters with QWERTY Love. Read it at

What about you? Are you a touch typist? Do you have a typewriter lurking in your house? Has the computer changed the way you write?