Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Have a Meeting (or Not)

One thing I have learned in my time in adult education is that teaching in mass does not work as well for adults as it does with children and teens. Actually, I don't know that it works too well with youngsters, but most of them have not formed a persona that they do not intend to change. Adults have, and therein lies the difference.

A group of kids can be whipped into a frenzy (think pep rally) much more easily than a group of adults. Oh, there are inspirational speakers who can get adults onboard. Preachers and politicians can do that, but it works best if everyone in the room has the same set of beliefs.

To effect any change in adults, even small changes, requires one-on-one or very small group instruction.

In ancient times, a young man would be apprenticed to an older craftsman, and the mentor would guide the young person. This still happens, but usually outside of "formal education." In my hometown, there was a family in the construction business. While we were all growing up the young ladies in that family went to college, but the young men all went to work in the family business. Each of those young men got a heck of an education, and I imagine that they learned math, science, writing, leadership, and philosophy from their dad, who was a master builder. Oh, and they can make stuff, too.

Anyone who teaches or supervises adults would do well to adopt the mentor and apprentice model. During my tenure in secondary school, I sat through any number of sessions which were conducted by adults for adults, using the "one size fits all" lecture method. Seldom did the session achieve the intended goal. Instead, most people gathered afterward to commiserate or retaliate. Therefore, I postulate that work related meetings should be banned, unless, of course, there is a pep rally going on.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Comic Book Art

Recently, I was reading a bit about science fiction movie poster art from yesteryear. I rather like those cheesy posters, actually. Some people don't like retro, but artwork for such films have become part of the culture for my generation. However, one of the folks who purchased my suspense book, The Gift Horse, said that the cover to Trinity on Tylos kept him from buying it. Others have mentioned that the cover is too much like a "comic book." Okay, I would rather have had my cover art look like that iconic poster art for the very first Star Wars film, the one with Vader's helmet as a huge backdrop and Princess Leia wielding a blaster but not looking much like Carrie Fisher. That was seriously cool art. Despite its possible role in low sales and abysmal royalties, I don't dislike the Whiskey Creek Press cover for Trinity. It isn't bad, it just isn't quite comic book worthy, and maybe that's the problem.

My first reader for The Gift Horse, Sarah Trippe, has three children. Her first born, Dean, is a comic book artist. That is, he graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in sequential art. He has blogs and websites, is multi-published in print, and seems to be building quite a following. While I am no expert in such matters, his art seems to be well-received by fans. I have not done enough research to know what the critics say about it, but his drawings combine action with simplicity. They're clean...or something. Anyway, check out this print, which I really like. Or better yet, buy one!

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Online, Typos Never Die

I've been an English teacher for more than thirty years. That's scary. And, during most of those years, I have tried to help students make their writing better. Or, as my current supervisor says of her own career, "For years I thought I was combating ignorance; then I realized I was just documenting it." Yes, we English teachers spend a great deal of time looking for mistakes.

Whenever I do web design, one of the wonderful things about it is that electrons are ephemeral. I can correct mistakes and the problems go to some cyber-heaven. However, once words are online, other entities copy those words, usually without credit or permission, and typos just keep on turning up.

Periodically, I use a search engine to keep me abreast of online use of my novel titles. Seldom does any reference to "The Gift Horse" have anything to do with me, since the phrase is widely used. "Trinity on Tylos" seems to be unique, however, so any use of those three words in that order should refer back to my science fiction novel. Recently, a Google search for "Trinity on Tylos" led me to a site called Vampire Raves. Someone posted my novel's back cover blurb on the site, but the source was apparently Amazon, rather than the book itself. How do I know that? Here's the story—

When the publisher's printing partner, Paw Prints POD, first posted it on Amazon, the title was Trinity on Trylos. It took me quite a while to correct that. But the description, which is that back cover blurb, misspells the main character's name. One of my teacher friends from long ago often mentioned a colleague, Venice. I wanted an exotic, yet human name for my futuristic character, so I swiped it. Quite frankly, I stole the last name from the social pages of the Athens, Georgia newspaper, so the main character is Venice Dylenski. However, Amazon's page, which was created in part by someone from PawPrints, called the character Benice Dylenski.

Indeed, a search for that name yielded ten results, and none of them are Vampire Raves, so there are undoubtedly other sites which have this same error. Just how many sites have posted this incorrect copy from Amazon? I have no idea, but it does illustrate that one mistake can go a very long way online.

There is something even more scary about that.

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