Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mark Twain on Plagiarism

According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary "plagiarize" is defined as:
: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

As a nonfiction writer the subject of plagiarism must be at front of my mind at all times when working on an assignment. It's also something I like to discuss with the children at my school visits. And maybe because it is at in the front of my mind I've discussed it on a regular basis with my own daughters when seeing them work on essays or research papers for school. I discussed it again with my older daughter as she left for college and now my younger daughter will be reminded again as well.

So, when I came across this article about Mark Twain and a letter he wrote to his friend Helen Keller regarding an incident of plagiarism that she was accused of, I found Mr. Twain's take on plagiarism, creativity, and originality very interesting, no less something that I could relate to. Imagine that! Something I could envision myself and Mr. Twain discussing over a cold drink after a softball game.

"I totally agree with you Mr. Twain."

I enjoy the fact that something written so many years ago can still resonate with writers, like myself, today. Thank you Mr. Twain for your wisdom and insight on the subject of plagiarism.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rest in Peace, Maurice

Children's author Maurice Sendak died yesterday at age 83. I think the New Times article and slide show combined make the perfect tribute to this iconic artist of children's books. I think he must be a part of every children's author's literary life. But the truth is, for most of us, he was a part of our lives way before we even thought about being authors.

How did Maruice Sendak inspire me to be a children's writer? Well, this book was the first wordless picture book I chose to share with my children. It still sits on their bookshelf today, amongst other worn favorites. I often tell the story about how I decided I wanted to write children's books. I don't remember the precise moment I made this decision, but I do remember it was during the time I was reading picture books aloud to my two young children. So, there were many authors that inspired me to tell stories through picture books and Mr. Sendak was one of them. For that I thank him.

Rest in peace, Maurice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Am I the only one who didn't know this?

Stephen Hawking wrote two children's books with his sister Lucy. I haven't seen these books yet but I'm definitely going to check them out at the library. They're for ages 8 and up. They look great don't they?
You can find more information on these children's books and Stephen Hawkin's other books on  Stephen's  web site.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Resurrection of the Blog!

One of my New Year's resolutions was to start blogging again and the holidays even provided me with an idea for my blog for the coming year. The problem was December and January brought me tight deadlines for three new joke books. What a great reason not to have time to blog! So, here it is March and I finally...have a chance...to catch my breath.

My idea for the blog this year was taken from a conversation over Christmas dinner. My mother-in-law said you must wake up every day with the goal to learn something new. So I thought, wouldn't it be great to share what we learn each day?  It can be something as simple as a fun fact or how you learned of kindness in an unexpected place.

Today, I learned something via an email from Gotham Writers Workshop that included 10 Questions for the Writer. The first question listed pertained to a grammar question that came up in one of my manuscripts. While our critique group went back forth about when to use the words lay and lie, we eventually came across the correct answer. Although we learned how to use them correctly, even in their past tenses, I still found the rule hard to remember. Thanks to Gotham teacher, Brandi Reissenweber, today I learned an easy way to remember the rules for these two very different verbs. So lie back in your chair and read Brandi's simple tips here. I also learned that you can email your writing questions to WritingQuestions – at – WriterMag.com.