Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

News Bites: Writing, Books, and Tech Stuff — June 15, 2018

News Bites: Writing, Books, and Tech Stuff

Newspapers and TeaAn incredible news dump consistently comes at us via TV broadcasts, the Internet, radio, social media, and in overheard conversations in restaurants or on the bus or train.

Every now and then why not focus on news relating to things we enjoy. Like writing, music, reading, technology and more.

Here are a few articles for your perusal:

Writing News and Tips:

On May 22nd Philip Roth died. According to his obituary in The Times, Roth was the last of the triumvirate of great white male writers–Saul Bellow and John Updike were the others–who towered over American letters in the latter half of the 20th century. If you haven’t read Roth’s books, this article helps you get started.

Always on the lookout for good writing tips, I came across a post titled Writing Tips from The Elements of Style: a Summary of the Most Influential Guide to Writing. A quick look proved my suspicion to be correct–we were talking about my favorite writing book. This summary of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is a great guide for beginning writers as well as a welcome reminder for those of us who’ve been writing a while.

Book News:

In the last couple of weeks, I read Beck Dorey-Stein’s memoir, From the Corner of the OvalDue for release on July 10, 2018, this is a memoir you want to watch for and read. Dorey-Stein brings not only a sense of the tensions but also the humor found in the life of The White House as well as The Oval Office. She served as a stenographer during the Obama administration and flew on Air Force One several times. This experience gave her a bird’s eye view of life in the “Oval.” 

From the Wall Street Journal, we read that an uptick occurred in the sale of print units. However, there are still questions surrounding the viability of retail brick and mortar stores. Barnes and Noble is the focus of an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenburg, Book Retailing Woes Undercut Excitement Over Clinton, Obama Titles. 

LitHub bookmarked Amy Poeppel’s Limelight: A Novel as one of the best of new books this summer. Based on five reviews, Limelight is categorized as a “Rave.” This short excerpt gives you an idea of Poeppel’s premise:

Allison Brinkley–wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist–discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.

Some Tech Stuff:

There is no way to scan the news without finding something tech-related. And all who write want to become better at doing that, right? The Muse posts an article sharing 7 Free Tools to Become a Better Writer. Two or three of these were familiar, but the rest were new apps I’ve not tried. Give the post a quick look. Maybe you’ll find a new helper.

Have you thought about dictating your book rather than writing it? Udemy currently has an offering, How to Speed Write Your Book With Voice Recognition SoftwareIf you’ve tried voice recognition software, please share your experience in the comments. Lately, I’ve posted about chronic illnesses and writing. That’s a situation in which this software could be beneficial.

Coming up on Tuesday, June 19th:

My review of Doom, Gloom, and Pursuit of the Sun by Antoine F. Gnintedem, a work of biographical fiction. This book shares the experiences of a young man growing up in and then leaving Cameroon. 

Until then, think about these words from Amy Tan:

The privilege of writing explained by Amy Tan.

In Praise of Libraries and Bookmobiles | National Library Week — April 12, 2017

In Praise of Libraries and Bookmobiles | National Library Week

The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.
~ Albert Einstein

It’s National Library Week.

Library week 2017

I don’t know about you, but several libraries played a role in my love of reading and, yes, writing. During National Library Week, I want to pay homage to Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy industrialist who believed in sharing his wealth by helping others. Among those institutions founded through his contributions are the buildings housing many of our country’s libraries.

Andrew Carnegie on Libraries (2017_04_13 00_01_10 UTC)

Initially, architecturally these buildings were similar in design and construction. However, as times changed and styles changed, so did the buildings housing the Carnegie libraries. It was never the building that made the library; it was the books inside and the people who maintained the library.

Let us hope the digitalized world of today never impacts the value and history of our library system in this country.


The Nashville Public Library, East Branch

My father had opened the covers of books for me long before I knew what the word “library” meant. Together we traveled to imaginary places, met imaginary people, and dreamed imaginary tales.

east branch nashville public library (2017_04_10 18_56_21 UTC)

But the day Daddy took me to the East Branch of the Nashville Public Library (featured image above), he opened doors and windows on the world for me. This house of books would become my home away from home.

I loved the smells when you opened the front doors–leather bindings, paper and ink, and dust. Not that the library wasn’t kept clean. Books have a knack for gathering dust.

The look of the books neatly organized on their shelves mesmerized me. And when I discovered some covers weren’t plain but beautifully decorated with images and delicate scrolls, my breath was taken away.

Most of all, I loved having a library card. At age six, it denoted ownership in this place of safekeeping for books of all kinds.

When I was nine, my family left the city for the suburbs. It didn’t occur to me a library did not exist near our new home. And it didn’t. I was devastated. Losing my library home was far more tragic than leaving behind friends I’d known since first grade.

Our move happened as summer vacation began between third and fourth grades. Timing added to my tragedy. What would I do during the long, hot summer without books to read?

What is a bookmobile?

I don’t know where Daddy learned about the library system’s bookmobiles. How or where really wasn’t important. He cared enough about my love of reading to find out.

bookmobilethumbfinalsm (2017_04_10 19_57_01 UTC)
Nashville Public Library Bookmobile (circa 1956)

From the summer of 1956 until 1966, two years after my high school graduation, my book source was the Nashville Public Library’s county bookmobile service. Granted the choice of books was not immense, but you could make requests and patiently wait until the next weekly stop in your area.

The bookmobile presented students with difficulties when a research paper was assigned. The ability to sit in the library and research your topic was impossible. This required a trip to downtown Nashville to the main branch, and then there was the issue of transportation.

Still, on this National Bookmobile Day, I am forever grateful to Nashville’s library system for providing this service to outlying areas. Fond memories are found in looking back on some of the books I discovered on the bookmobile.

Bigger and better libraries

The transition to college life in 1964 offered me the benefit of a library, larger than I had known before, within steps of my dorm. A large collection of books to read, use for research, and simply gaze upon was beyond my comprehension.

After college, I worked for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Here I had access to numerous libraries maintained in various departments across campus. My wildest dream came true in the ability to get access to so many kinds of books within this small city within the City of Nashville.

My next library exposure came with my work for law firms. The legal library is a totally different animal among libraries. It took some education and training to understand the volumes and volumes of case-law for the various courts as well as the other books written on various areas of the law practice. I never turned down a project that would take me into the library to research or simply do cite checking on a brief or pleading.

NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY (aka Retirement Library)

Ledding Library (2015_01_03 20_42_24 UTC)

Our neighborhood library, Ledding Library, provides us with a multitude of ways to get access to reading materials and more: books, DVDs, magazines, used book sales, summer music in the park, book groups, storytime for children, and opportunities for volunteering.

In retirement, my husband and I enjoy reading a variety of genre and despite our Kindle ownership, we continue to enjoy checking out books with paper pages and beautiful covers. Sometimes we head to Ledding to sit in the magazine section and browse current issues of our favorites. And to enjoy the quiet.

The staff is gracious and helpful, and we have made friends with some and others were already friends when they came to Ledding. Always ready to answer questions. Always ready to help.

Perhaps soon my book will live on the shelves of Ledding Library.


I am thankful for many things related to libraries, bookmobiles, and books:

  • Andrew Carnegie’s generosity in building libraries across our country;
  • My dad’s encouragement in loving the written word and for his introduction to the library and finding the bookmobile service;
  • The variety of libraries I’ve had access to during my life;
  • The people who have cared for and maintained the books and the buildings they are housed in;
  • The people who have written and/or compiled the books on those never-ending shelves.

What memories do you have about libraries in your life? Who introduced you to the library system? As a writer, how do you support your local library and is your book in that library? Share your library story below.

News Bites on Writing & Books for July 11-15, 2016 — July 19, 2016

News Bites on Writing & Books for July 11-15, 2016

News CP-Writing-Examples National news this week has brought more tragedy and violence. With so much news of these events, life takes on an unhealthy emotional environment in our homes and communities.

What to do? Find something positive to do in your community. Support an effort in your community to help the hungry and homeless. Volunteer at a Boys and Girls Club to help young people learn something other than hatred and prejudice. Perhaps your church is involved in neighborhood meetups and gatherings.

Look for news about things you enjoy–music, books, poetry, fiction, memoirs, and more. Here are a few articles for your perusal:

Wonder about the truth of proofreading? Susan DeFreitas, Collaborative Editor at Indigo Editing, shares The Truth About Proofreading in Indigo’s recent newsletter.

From Nina Amir’s How to Blog a Book site 15 Expert Tips to Increase Reader Comments on Blog Posts. Participants include Yaro Starek of, Joel Friedlander of, Darren Rowse of, Peg Fitzpatrick of and Mary Jaksch of

The Guardian reports on The BBC’s #LoveToRead poll and the risk it runs of closing a potentially wider doorway into modern writing.

Jennie Yarboff at Signature shares the debate over grammar by sharing her thoughts on five books on how to write “right.”

Did you see the post by Jennie Nash at The Book Designer? Jennie talks about getting our stories out of our heads and onto the page. This is post 3 with links to posts 1 and 2.

Haruki Murakami


News Bites on Writing & Books for Week of July 4, 2016 — July 13, 2016

News Bites on Writing & Books for Week of July 4, 2016

Currently, it seems the news is filled either with the turmoil of terrorist attacks or the cutting and sharp words of politics.

Don’t lose heart! There is good news to be found. It just takes a little digging, and I’ve kept my shovel sharp.

Here are some of the articles or news items I found worth reading this past week:

Guy Gavriel Kay at The Lit Hub discusses the necessity, or perhaps not, for writing rules. Best check this one out.

Need another word to use in place of “very?” Read 128 Words Writers Can Use Instead of “Very” with great infographic.

As always, Seth Godin provided an interesting and retrospective post.

A beautiful piece from Andi Cumbo-Floyd on taking your writing seriously.

In honor of author Alice Munro’s 85th birthday, a retrospective of her short stories with quotes stirs the reading desires of lovers of Munro’s works.

From the blog at Bublish, a list of five tasks Indie authors can tackle during the summer months.

Image attributions:
Jeanette Walls quote

News Bits on Writing & Books for Week of June 27, 2016 — July 6, 2016

News Bits on Writing & Books for Week of June 27, 2016

News CP-Writing-Examples
News CP-Writing-Examples

As this past weekend reflects, we are a country of independence. Freedoms abound that others only long for.

Among those freedoms are our choices to read and write based on our own thinking. With that in mind, I offer you some of what I’ve come across the last week of June in writing and publishing news.

First up, a simple curiosity. Stephen King actually has quite legible handwriting. Why a curiosity? Often writers, as well as physicians, don’t have the best handwriting. Take a look.

Diane Rinella talks audiobook production on Writers Helping Writers. A well-prepared post filled to the brim with good information.

All writers need to read to learn from other writers. Even if you write nonfiction, reading good fiction is beneficial. If you have not read any of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novels, I recommend them to you. Here’s a cover reveal for her next novel coming out in December.

Perhaps you are a first-time writer and have no idea what an author media kit is. Don’t panic! Melissa Flick lays it all out for you on her blog plus infographic.

BookBaby offers a post from Dr. Dawn Field on Tightening Your Story’s Cause and Effect with “and So.” Her explanation and examples are rich with clarity and logic.

Personal branding consultant and award-winning author, Nancy Blanton, explains the formula necessary for creating what she calls “your author brand positioning statement.”

Robin Williams' Quote
Robin Williams’ Quote
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