Essay: The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:15 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

????????????????????????????????

I have an essay on Parent.co today! It’s about 3D printing, something I talk about a lot on here. In particular, it’s about 3D printing toys for our son Gideon. Right now, we’re printing him stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Here’s more about that: Read The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Book Review: Moonglow By Michael Chabon

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:04 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

51gYHAzvK+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Check out my review of Michael Chabon’s elegantly structured novel Moonglow on KQED.

Article: How Reality TV Made Donald Trump

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 11:14 am on Friday, November 18, 2016

how-reality-tv-made-donald-trump-possible-1479486411-crop_desktop

I have an op-ed up on Vice! Check out How Reality TV Made Donald Trump President.

A sample:

We should learn from this election. It’s imperative that we look at who and what we’re elevating in the form of harmless entertainment. Even when television seems silly and trite, the images and messages it sends to viewers are influential. We need to question whether we want the entertainment we put on TV to become, over time, mirrors of our society as a whole. I, for one, don’t want to live in a nation of Real Housewives.

More Here.

Wildacres Writing Residency

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:00 am on Friday, October 28, 2016

In September, I attended a writing residency at Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a terrific experience. I can’t say enough about Wildacres and the people who run it. They help all kinds of artists by giving them the gift of time and peace to work, which is valuable and important work.

For my residency, I got to stay in a cabin and write for a week. There was no Internet, cell phone, or distractions. I wasn’t sure if I would like that. I imagined being lonely and restless, but I was delighted to find that I’m a natural hermit. In fact, half the time I didn’t even leave the cabin to go to meals. (Don’t worry–I stopped at a grocery store on the way there.)

Here’s the outside of the cabin:

cabin

The inside had a full kitchen, a king-sized bed, and a table where I spent most of my time working:

desk

I also worked on the deck until I figured out that North Carolina bugs really like to bite me.

porch

It was inspiring to be in a forest, especially since my book is set in a forest. I saw so many animals while there. I saw a bear, first of all. (I was in my car.) I saw a doe and a fawn. I saw tiny owls, butterflies that looked like fall leaves, lizards with blue tails, and the strangest spider ever, the Arrowshaped Micrathena.

47635544.micrathenaspideroutstanding1

The Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the most beautiful places in the United States and I plan to keep going back. While at Wildacre, I took tons of pictures of the Blue Ridge Parkway, all while singing this song to myself.

DSCN0903.sized

DSCN0945.sizedDSCN0892.sized

DSCN0898.sized

Book Review: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:33 am on Monday, October 24, 2016

BritBennett-768x432

I have a new book review up on KQED. This time I’m looking at The Mothers, a debut novel by Brit Bennett. Check it out here!

Kitchen Cabinets In

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 8:01 pm on Sunday, October 23, 2016

How did you spend your weekend? Aside from a hike in the local park, I spent it putting my stuff away in my new kitchen cabinets. Here they are, along with the muscular harvest of the last of the 2016 Meyer lemons.

kitchen2

Still to do: install a new light, paint one wall, tile the backsplash, replace the blinds, replace the faucet, and–most importantly–put in the countertop. We’re going with black quartz.

It’s a lot, but for the moment, I’m just happy to have cabinets again.

Majestic Humboldt

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 8:43 am on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I’m writing something based on Humboldt County, where I grew up, and where I go fairly frequently. So I took a road trip there earlier this year and spent some time in the old-growth redwood forests.

DSC_0145_001.sized

Majestic, huh?

A few more pictures.

DSC_0174_002.sized

DSC_0150_001.sized

DSC_0164_002.sized

DSC_0132_001.sized

This is the kind of forest I grew up with. I saw so many beautiful places this year, but these forests continue to be in the top.

Here’s What’s Going On With Me

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:30 am on Monday, September 26, 2016

10154219_635359469852374_3547932485844161894_n

* Along with several other writers, I answered this Q&A question on Howlarium: How does your partner handle those periods when you need to be in your head, be alone to talk to yourself, to lament the latest publisher’s rejection, or otherwise tend to your creative life—how does your partner make room? Interesting talk about it can be difficult for other people to understand the weird needs of writers. Click to read more.

* I went to a writer’s residency in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a great experience. I’ll write a post about it soon.

* I took a trip to Humboldt County to research something I’m writing. It was a great experience. I’ll write a post about it soon.

* My novel was a finalist in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

* Kyle was on a podcast talking about computer security.

* He’s also Chairperson of the Advisory Board for Purism, which I think sounds so fancy.

* We’re remodeling our kitchen. You guys. It’s stressful. Right now our kitchen looks like this:

kitchen

* We’re about to go on a 12-day RV trip. We’re renting an RV from Cruise America and driving through Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.

Cruise-America-Motorhome

* When we get back, Kyle is going to Amsterdam to speak at the O’Reilly Security Conference. I don’t get to go, but that’s okay. I’ve traveled plenty this year.

What’s going on with you?

Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:20 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In June I went to the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency. It was the first year they had the residency, which was located on Cuttyhunk Island, near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. I’d never heard of it before.

Along with 14 other writers, I studied with the author Paul Harding. I also wrote about 50 pages in my new book. We stayed at The Avalon, a lovely old inn. Here’s a picture:

avalon

The residency was a new experience for me. It made me think a lot about class and how its intersection with literary fiction fundamentally blocks our ability to achieve diversity in literature. Part of my reaction was due to the fact that Cuttyhunk Island is so clearly a place for rich people. Of course, it’s a beautiful place.

town

boat

I didn’t get a decent picture of my room, so here’s one from the Avalon website.

edbc03_571712ba32a94b8fa477de8f226e5ed4

My room had a balcony where I did a lot of writing. The view from the balcony was also great.

view

view2

One night, there was a double rainbow.

rainbow

The beaches are rocky and loaded with wild roses.

roses

East Coast insects hate me. I was stung by a wasp, bitten by spiders, and devoured by mosquitoes. This never happens in California.

path

There were ticks everywhere. I went down this path, and when I came out the other side, seven ticks were crawling up my legs.

Gross.

I keep thinking I want to move to New England, but it’s really not for me. It was nice to visit though.

berm

Back in New Bedford, I went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where Herman Melville set part of Moby-Dick. It was a fascinating, weird place. I took pictures with my phone. This is my favorite.

Writing 10+ Pages A Day

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — Administrator at 3:08 pm on Monday, August 1, 2016

CYNViYOWcAAuY2u.jpg:large

In July, I made a goal to complete the first draft of a new novel. I’d been working on a book for several months and I needed to finish it so that I could move onto other things.

So I increased the number of pages until I was writing 10 a day, sometimes even 15-20 pages when I was on a roll. I tracked my progress on Twitter.

It was a harrowing time. I wasn’t sure I would make it, but on July 31st, I finished the first draft of the book. It is 151,000 words, 530 pages.

Since I made my progress public on Twitter, lots of people asked me how I was writing so many pages in a day. Here are some thoughts on that.

I can’t stress enough that this was a first draft.
It will be a long time before I have a finished manuscript ready to send out for publication. For me, it’s easy to spit out a lot of words. It’s harder to edit them.

So, this draft is rough. Just because I wrote 10 pages doesn’t mean that they were all good pages.

I was motivated to finish because I took time off paying work.
I put aside my day job–writing articles–to spend a month on fiction. I can’t afford to do that often, so I made the most of my time, not only writing this first draft but working on short fiction as well. When I plan time to write fiction, I take it seriously.

I used rewards to motivate myself. My writing buddy and I agreed that if we met our July writing goals, we would get a reward. That was doubly motivating because I wanted the reward and I didn’t want to let my buddy (okay it was Marcia) down. Now we’re going on a road trip!

I used markers to motivate myself.
I find that visual evidence of progress is helpful, so I put a sticker by every completed bullet point on my outline and I made a dash on my notebook every time I finished a page, like so:

pages

I also wrote my daily word count on my whiteboard. This is for July.

board

You’ll see I started on page 342 and finished on page 529.

The more I wrote, the easier it was to produce pages.
When I started, writing this book was so hard that completing three pages was a decent day’s work. Then something clicked and I got used to writing a lot every day. It’s like any other discipline: You do something enough, you get used to it, and it becomes easier. It’s a shift in perspective.

Everyone works at their own pace.
Several people contacted me saying they could never write this much this quickly. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Every writer has a different process, and it doesn’t matter if you do 10 pages or 2 pages as long as you write regularly enough to make progress on your work.

Now this book will have a long rest before editing. I find that my fiction benefits from distance. Letting a draft sit for a period of time makes me more objective, which means that I can look at the book with clear eyes and have a higher chance of knowing what to do with it. Therefore this book is going to sit in a metaphorical drawer for several months before I pick it up again.

And that’s just fine… I have plenty of other things to write in the meantime.

Next Page »