Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Holiday Weekend for Partying, Picnicing, or Sneaking in Work?

On the eve of Memorial Day Weekend, I find myself busily preparing for my teaching gig at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (here), in between packing my son for an overseas trip, and packing for this long weekend away. Phew! No wonder I feel scattered, though I really do want to post. In all my busywork, I miss the blog community.

First of all, I want to belatedly thank the gracious C. Lee McKenzie for giving me a Stylish Blog Award! Go take a peek at her awesome TheWriteGame here and check out her interview on CBS Bay Sunday!

Secondly, as I put a final polish my longish 96K manuscript draft, and try to cut extraneous words, I can report that there is no such thing as exact word count! My draft in Garamond comes out to a different count than in Courier, than in Times New Roman. In doing subsequent research online, I discovered that many authors have this experience, and their counts vary as much as 10,000 words! Just a heads up for anyone freaking over his or her word count. Have you experienced this discrepancy? Which font provides the most accurate count?

Today, in preparing for the hot weather, I planted my portulacas and fed my climbing yellow roses and my hubby's okra seedlings. I've got a rocking chair and a table with an umbrella. An inner-city deck sure takes the edge off of the big city.

So, I wish you all a fun and restful holiday weekend. Anyone traveling to an exciting location? Sneaking in some work time? Throwing a party? Heading to the beach before the crowds set in? How do you take the edge off? Dish here!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Digital Books for Kids & Kids do Reviews!

I’ve been hearing more and more about new digital directions for the children’s market, including apps for the iPad.

In addition, more and more kids are blogging, and writing their own book reviews, which is very cool.

Here are two fun, cutting edge links. One is called, where I just got a five star review for my choose-your-own adventure book, A Girl’s Best Friend. Thanks to my reviewer, KK!

The second is a link to an article a friend turned me onto called The Future of Print: 21 Interesting E-Books for Kids, by Scott McLeod. Scott hosts this site called Dangerously Irrelevant, which is dedicated to exploring the technological and educational needs of schools. The amazing array of apps and eBooks cited in his article will expand your thinking about what is possible for the children’s market going forward. He provides examples of everything from 3D interactive online pop-up books, to science apps. Take a look here.

Finally, take a peek at Tumble Books, a site that many libraries use, where trade books are transformed to digital talking books. Boy, I would have loved this as a kid.

On a different but just as important note, I want to thank Krista M for awarding me the Stylish Blog Award! I encourage you all to visit her thoughtful blog, The Jelly Beans of Writing. As far as me citing seven more blogs, I’ve recently awarded two big batches of them, so I will sit this round out, as I don’t want to bore you by being redundant. But I promise, in time, I will be recognizing more great blogs as I discover them.

What do you think of the move toward eBooks and apps for kids? Have you seen any great sites that you would add to my list? Do you have kids, and if so, do they have any favorite apps? How about blogs written by kids?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun When the Manuscript Draft is Done

I finally finished a draft of my YA urban fantasy, clocking in at nine months (almost a real baby!), and a wordy 93K, or about 350 pages. Decided not to show it to my agent until it’s been combed-through by a professional editor, which is a first for me, and quite a luxury.

I have also just finished teaching the spring lit semester, so I suddenly have some real time to play around with new story ideas, to clean up the piles of books and paper on my desk, my shelves, and well, everywhere. Oh, and I have some time for FUN.

The first thing I did, was to go to the auto show at the Javits Center in NYC. This has turned into a yearly ritual for me. There is something about climbing into the latest model Mustang, or BMW and imagining tearing down the highway in it that really appeals to me. Of late, I most love to check out the latest hybrids, from the Nissan Leaf, which runs totally on electric, to the Chevy Volt, which runs on a combination of gas and electric, and boasts a total mileage of around 350 miles! (See image above)

This was the first year you could climb into a Volt; there were two on-site. I sorta, kinda fell in love with it. It looks like a sexy sedan with a tinge of racing car in it, but not too hot rod that a “grown-*ss woman” couldn’t own one without looking ridiculous.
BTW, the Chevy Cruz boasts a MPG of 40, but still, it’s all gas. And the Nissan Leaf needs to up its battery-span to at least 160 miles before it's a realistic choice. Right now, it's 100 tops.

But then… in the Volkswagen section, I found… drum roll… the BULLI.
What the heck is a Bulli, you ask? It’s a super-compact crazy-good reinvention of the old Volkswagen van. Think what one of those old buses would look like cut in half, and then smoothed out to a futuristic cube-y shape a la the Nissan Cube, and then run through a smokin’ design studio to add two-tone color reminiscent of a surfer van. You know the ones with the wood panels? Check out the Bulli above, and on this website.

The catch? It’s still only a concept car! That means that Volkswagen folks may never actually manufacture it to sell. In the meantime, I may have to buy another Subaru, a car that has lasted me an incredible 15 years.

So, tell me, what do you do for fun after you’ve finished a novel draft, or a teaching gig, or simply need a long break from your computer? And what’s your dream car?