Reflections on Middle-Class Prepper culture and visions of apocalypse. This is an essay by Calla B. Martin. January in Minnesota is typically a time to hunker down, do projects, and what I love most: read. While the temperature dips up and down, those of us fortunate enough to spend warm hours at leisure have time to reflect and contemplate this world we live in (that is, if we aren’t too distracted by social media). I digress. It turns out that reading speculative fiction about the catastrophic failure of our social and physical infrastructure alongside recent news articles about the real systemic vulnerabilities of that infrastructure is…kinda a bummer and not just

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Reflections on Middle-Class Prepper culture and visions of apocalypse. This is an essay by Calla B. Martin. January in Minnesota is typically a time to hunker down, do projects, and what I love most: read. While the temperature dips up and down, those of us fortunate enough to spend warm hours at leisure have time to reflect and contemplate this world we live in (that is, if we aren’t too distracted by social media). I digress. It turns out that reading speculative fiction about the catastrophic failure of our social and physical infrastructure alongside recent news articles about the real systemic vulnerabilities of that infrastructure is…kinda a bummer and not just

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This article was written by Sarah L. Webb. I’m addicted to reading with a pen in my hand. So addicted, in fact, that I have to have a pen even when I’m reading on my Kindle. Not only am I addicted to reading with pens, but I’m also a pen pusher. My goal is to turn my adult students into pen users just like me (which is a lot harder than pushing pens to youth readers). I wasn’t always this way.

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This article was written by Sarah L. Webb. I’m addicted to reading with a pen in my hand. So addicted, in fact, that I have to have a pen even when I’m reading on my Kindle. Not only am I addicted to reading with pens, but I’m also a pen pusher. My goal is to turn my adult students into pen users just like me (which is a lot harder than pushing pens to youth readers). I wasn’t always this way.

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This essay was written by Patrick Icasas. “Pass.” It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I have this evening to finish my assigned stories. I click through to the next. It’s a sci-fi piece with a clever title that promises a fun parody. I read through the first paragraph, and I’m immediately disappointed. It turns out to be an existential piece in a sci-fi backdrop, which is a big disconnect from what the title made me expect. I read through the rest, hoping that it’ll at least be compelling enough to deserve a “maybe” vote, with the caveat of a title change. It’s not. “Pass.” I click through to the

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This essay was written by Patrick Icasas. “Pass.” It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I have this evening to finish my assigned stories. I click through to the next. It’s a sci-fi piece with a clever title that promises a fun parody. I read through the first paragraph, and I’m immediately disappointed. It turns out to be an existential piece in a sci-fi backdrop, which is a big disconnect from what the title made me expect. I read through the rest, hoping that it’ll at least be compelling enough to deserve a “maybe” vote, with the caveat of a title change. It’s not. “Pass.” I click through to the

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Posted in Reading

This essay was written by Elizabeth Simons.  My best ideas come through daydreams. They come when I’m doing something else, and seldom appear when I’m sitting in front of my computer. Don’t get me wrong. I write things down. Usually at sporting events. Or concerts. Or honky-tonk bars. But when I haul out the scraps of paper the words seem stale, as if the thoughts had run out of air. “Cute blond chick with fetching dimple sips margarita and flirts with handsome cowboy” becomes a puzzle. Where was that going? A tale about the young lady? The cowboy? The Margarita? Great ideas come when I’m driving, washing dishes, or doing laundry.

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This essay was written by Elizabeth Simons.  My best ideas come through daydreams. They come when I’m doing something else, and seldom appear when I’m sitting in front of my computer. Don’t get me wrong. I write things down. Usually at sporting events. Or concerts. Or honky-tonk bars. But when I haul out the scraps of paper the words seem stale, as if the thoughts had run out of air. “Cute blond chick with fetching dimple sips margarita and flirts with handsome cowboy” becomes a puzzle. Where was that going? A tale about the young lady? The cowboy? The Margarita? Great ideas come when I’m driving, washing dishes, or doing laundry.

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Posted in Lessons, Writing

This essay was written by Amarie Fox. As a millennial, I often hear from friends that they don’t feel as if they should be forced to pay for art. By art, let me be specific. I am encompassing everything from films, to music, to yes, even books. Perhaps, it is the false sense of entitlement in the digital age – where everything is free and instantly available for download – which allows for this kind of thought process to dominate. I grew up in an age where I actively witnessed the mentality shift and lose focus. Music and films became mere things, free domain, ripe for taking, simply because they were

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This essay was written by Amarie Fox. As a millennial, I often hear from friends that they don’t feel as if they should be forced to pay for art. By art, let me be specific. I am encompassing everything from films, to music, to yes, even books. Perhaps, it is the false sense of entitlement in the digital age – where everything is free and instantly available for download – which allows for this kind of thought process to dominate. I grew up in an age where I actively witnessed the mentality shift and lose focus. Music and films became mere things, free domain, ripe for taking, simply because they were

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Posted in Books, Reading

This is a guest post by Ollin Morales. Have you ever read something and then said to yourself afterwards: “That was beautiful–but I have no idea what it means!” Or maybe what you read wasn’t beautiful at all. It was just a huge, jumbled mess. Either way, you might agree with me that one of the biggest problems writers face today is a rather simple one: they have trouble making sense to their readers. The ability to write something that makes sense to a whole lot of people you don’t know is a very underrated skill to have. But the more your work makes sense to your readers, the more you

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This is a guest post by Ollin Morales. Have you ever read something and then said to yourself afterwards: “That was beautiful–but I have no idea what it means!” Or maybe what you read wasn’t beautiful at all. It was just a huge, jumbled mess. Either way, you might agree with me that one of the biggest problems writers face today is a rather simple one: they have trouble making sense to their readers. The ability to write something that makes sense to a whole lot of people you don’t know is a very underrated skill to have. But the more your work makes sense to your readers, the more you

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Posted in Learning, Lessons, Writing

This is an essay by Brandon Monk. We have discussed reading for pleasure and for education. The third reason to read is for perspective. By this I mean read to understand the state of one’s ideas. Read to adjust the way you look at the world. Read to understand how two people, places, things, or ideas interact. What is perspective? Perspective is concerned with three things: (1) your own thoughts; (2) how you view another’s thoughts; (3) how you view the way two or more sets of ideas interact. At its heart, perspective is how the world appears. Your background, experience, knowledge, and wisdom influence perspective. How do reading and perspective intersect? Reading

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This is an essay by Brandon Monk. We have discussed reading for pleasure and for education. The third reason to read is for perspective. By this I mean read to understand the state of one’s ideas. Read to adjust the way you look at the world. Read to understand how two people, places, things, or ideas interact. What is perspective? Perspective is concerned with three things: (1) your own thoughts; (2) how you view another’s thoughts; (3) how you view the way two or more sets of ideas interact. At its heart, perspective is how the world appears. Your background, experience, knowledge, and wisdom influence perspective. How do reading and perspective intersect? Reading

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Posted in Reading

As much as I loath to admit it, the three most life-changing books I’ve read recently are self-help books, all written by middle-class, privileged people who decided a traditional nine to five wasn’t for them. While my co-editor argues you should take the advice contained therein with a grain of salt—I’m guilty of being not-so-secretly addicted to them. Part of my brain really enjoys the cheerleading, while the other part scoffs and says the advice-givers are exceptional, if only in their arrogance. Still, all things said and read, there’s something inherently hopeful and positive about consulting another writer for his or her best advice, even if I end up doing my

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As much as I loath to admit it, the three most life-changing books I’ve read recently are self-help books, all written by middle-class, privileged people who decided a traditional nine to five wasn’t for them. While my co-editor argues you should take the advice contained therein with a grain of salt—I’m guilty of being not-so-secretly addicted to them. Part of my brain really enjoys the cheerleading, while the other part scoffs and says the advice-givers are exceptional, if only in their arrogance. Still, all things said and read, there’s something inherently hopeful and positive about consulting another writer for his or her best advice, even if I end up doing my

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Posted in Reading

Even readers skeptic of self-improvement books will get lots of helpful ideas and inspiration from Jeff Goins’ book about the hard work of finding your purpose(s) in life. His combination of true stories to motivate and practical methods to get started on your life’s work makes the book a fast and fun read that will get you on track to leaving your legacy. The Gist: Everyone Has a Calling  We all have a calling, we just have to be brave enough to let our lives point us to what it is and persistent enough to stick with it, even when things are hard. Your calling isn’t something you just know you’re

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Even readers skeptic of self-improvement books will get lots of helpful ideas and inspiration from Jeff Goins’ book about the hard work of finding your purpose(s) in life. His combination of true stories to motivate and practical methods to get started on your life’s work makes the book a fast and fun read that will get you on track to leaving your legacy. The Gist: Everyone Has a Calling  We all have a calling, we just have to be brave enough to let our lives point us to what it is and persistent enough to stick with it, even when things are hard. Your calling isn’t something you just know you’re

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Posted in Book Reviews

This is an essay by Elizabeth Simons. I wish I had more discipline. Or more specifically, I wish I was better at directing my attention to things I want to do but avoid, anyway. Enter self-help books, the darlings of the publishing industry and surely the answer to my dilemma.

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This is an essay by Elizabeth Simons. I wish I had more discipline. Or more specifically, I wish I was better at directing my attention to things I want to do but avoid, anyway. Enter self-help books, the darlings of the publishing industry and surely the answer to my dilemma.

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Posted in Nonfiction, Reading

It’s not every Amazon best-selling author that goes it alone and survives to write another….and another, and another book. But then Brenda Pandos has a supernatural  support system made up of the pantheon of magical creatures in her head, recently rounded out by the addition of a time-traveler fighting against an evil all-powerful regime that is trying to do away with blue eyes, among other things. Understandably, we were curious as to how she makes it all work and where the ideas come from. Learn more about what makes this author tick, as well as her  best tips for readers and writers below: What’s the last thing you read? (It doesn’t have to

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It’s not every Amazon best-selling author that goes it alone and survives to write another….and another, and another book. But then Brenda Pandos has a supernatural  support system made up of the pantheon of magical creatures in her head, recently rounded out by the addition of a time-traveler fighting against an evil all-powerful regime that is trying to do away with blue eyes, among other things. Understandably, we were curious as to how she makes it all work and where the ideas come from. Learn more about what makes this author tick, as well as her  best tips for readers and writers below: What’s the last thing you read? (It doesn’t have to

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Book Reviews in Brief: Glitch by Brenda Pandos What would you tell your young self, if you had the ability to go back in time and give your best advice and in the process make a real difference in the world? In Glitch, our reluctant heroine, Abby,  gets to know the advantages and potential disasters time travel (and zombies) present. Sci-fi and Fantasy addicts will enjoy time-traveling with Abby in this Divergent-esque dystopian Young Adult novel. Read more about Brenda Pandos. The Gist: Abby spends her time flirting with her best friend’s brother, playing baseball, following the rules and, trying not to think about the zombies beyond Brighton’s closely monitored walls. She’s just your average

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Book Reviews in Brief: Glitch by Brenda Pandos What would you tell your young self, if you had the ability to go back in time and give your best advice and in the process make a real difference in the world? In Glitch, our reluctant heroine, Abby,  gets to know the advantages and potential disasters time travel (and zombies) present. Sci-fi and Fantasy addicts will enjoy time-traveling with Abby in this Divergent-esque dystopian Young Adult novel. Read more about Brenda Pandos. The Gist: Abby spends her time flirting with her best friend’s brother, playing baseball, following the rules and, trying not to think about the zombies beyond Brighton’s closely monitored walls. She’s just your average

Read more

Posted in Reading

Write often, read more. Some of the best words of advice we’ve heard from a fellow writer, lately. Dan Lewis, the great mind behind the highly addictive Now I Know newsletter reflects on reading, learning , writing, and the merits of Harry Potter, baseball, the Simpsons and Star Trek. First things, first. What’s the last thing you read?  I read a lot — occupational hazard of writing as much as I do! The last book I read was Ready Player One, and I loved it. Do you have any unusual writing rituals or habits?  I tend to write on the train a lot. It’s quiet and there’s not much else to do. It’s

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Write often, read more. Some of the best words of advice we’ve heard from a fellow writer, lately. Dan Lewis, the great mind behind the highly addictive Now I Know newsletter reflects on reading, learning , writing, and the merits of Harry Potter, baseball, the Simpsons and Star Trek. First things, first. What’s the last thing you read?  I read a lot — occupational hazard of writing as much as I do! The last book I read was Ready Player One, and I loved it. Do you have any unusual writing rituals or habits?  I tend to write on the train a lot. It’s quiet and there’s not much else to do. It’s

Read more