Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Twitter Advantage

I enjoy Facebook's format more than Twitter's, but recently I've experienced the Twitter Advantage. For the first time ever, I am in a critique group with an author/illustrator. Eileen is interested in graphic novels...a subject about which I am woefully ignorant. So I posted on Twitter: "Need graphic novel recommendations for children." A woman that I didn't know recommended Owly. Within minutes I got a message that I was being "followed" by Owly's creator, Andy Runton. The Twitter advantage doesn't limit you to connecting with friends, but allows you to search for people that have the information you need. How cool is that? So what's your preference, Facebook or Twitter?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Books I'm Reading Now

STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr - Thirteen-year-old Deanna Lambert's father catches her having sex with a seventeen-year-old boy. The premise makes me cringe, but yet books like this remind young girls they are not alone when they make a bad decision. For a parent who says, "I don't want my child to read this," I would offer a counter argument: the book shows such negative consequences that I think any young girl contemplating sex would stop and think twice.

IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES by Lisa Schroeder - Isabel's mother decides to reinvent herself by opening a cupcake shop. The problem is she lacks gumption when things go wrong. Isabel helps her mother with the shop and learns a lot about herself in the process. This book would generate lots of discussion at a mother/daughter book club.

DORK DIARIES and DORK DIARIES 2 by Rachel Renee Russell - The tween heroine of these books reminds me of Beckie Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella's CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC series. Both heroines get themselves into such outlandish situations that we as readers can't stop until we see how they are going to save the day. Another great feature of DORK DIARIES is its unique format, combining text and illustrations.

THE LEMONADE WAR by Jacqueline Davies - This book shows sibling rivalry at its finest. Evan and Jessie set up competing lemonade stands to see who can be the first to earn $100. Again the format is unique. The book contains mini posters with tips for running a successful small business.

If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear your opinions. If you have suggestions of middle grade or young adult books that I might enjoy, I'd appreciate the recommendations.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Switching Teams: From PC to MacBook Pro!

Time and technology wait for no writer! My husband gifted me with a new Macbook Pro for Christmas and an i-Phone 4 for my birthday.

Let's start with the phone. The i-Phone is the easiest cell phone to use I have ever owned. It also doubles as an i-Pod so I can listen to music. With one touch of the screen, I can access my email when traveling. I adore my i-Phone!

After many years using a PC, I've had a bit of trouble switching to a Mac. Here are some tips based on my experience.

1. The Apple Store is your friend. For a small fee they will transfer the files from your PC to your Mac, and provide one-on-one tutoring.

2. MacBook For Dummies is a very helpful manual.

3. For backup purposes you can't beat "My Passport for Mac." It's a small black box that plugs into one of the Mac's USB ports and provides automatic, continuous backup. (Cost $100)

4. Good-bye virus scans. So far Macs are virus free!

5. My electronics are in-sync! I charge my phone by plugging it into the Mac's USB port and it syncs any music I've purchased via computer with my phone/i-Pod.

I checked in with a couple of writer friends who also use Macs and here's what they had to say:

"I can painlessly and effortlessly sync everything for the first time in my entire life. I can get apps like QuickCal, which make my life easier by orders of magnitude, yet are free or mainly cost me less than ten bucks. I can listen to music I like on Pandora because it magically arrives on my i-Phone - and all I had to do was name one thing for it to do that." Gina Hagler

Cynthia Willis says: "If I have a problem the Apple Store is nearby. I simply bring my laptop in and the problem is fixed. I also love all the software that comes with a Mac - iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie. My one and only gripe would be that Macs tend to outdate themselves very quickly. Visiting an Apple Store with a three-year-old computer is like walking in with a dinosaur in your arms."

I haven't taken the time yet to explore all of the software that Cynthia mentions. I'm finding the Mac to be a continuous learning process...I still haven't figured out how to add pictures to my blog. The Apple Store employees have their work cut out for them!

Please share any advantages/disadvantages you've experienced with the Mac. And if you have questions, post them and I'll ask one of my more experienced friends to chime in!