Monthly Archives: November 2017

It’s hostile

30 November 2017

It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way.

Joan Didion

How to use Authentic Historical Detail to Trigger Emotions and Memories in Your Reader

29 November 2017

From Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Writers of historical fiction, whether Regency, Middle Ages, Victorian use the markers of the era—clothes, furniture, manners, leaders, resisters, war, peace, prosperity, recession—to create character, conflict, and plot.

Writers of fiction set in more contemporary times can use these powerful assets to add depth and texture as well. Adding authentic historical detail to novels will trigger a rich web of personal memories and associations. Those will engage readers in an emotionally profound way.

From the dot-com bubble of 2000 to the housing crisis of 2007, from passing fads to mega trends, the social and cultural settings of a story give us ways to draw readers into our stories. From fidget spinners, Beanie Babies and hula hoops to Madonna, Madoff and Zuckerberg, each specific detail evokes personal memories.

. . . .

  • The buttoned-down Eisenhower Fifties, the Man In The Grey Flannel Suit and “Togetherness” evoke memories a past era
  • The stylish Kennedy Sixties was note for Twiggy, the Cuban missile crisis—and the assassination of the president
  • The gloomy Carter Seventies brought recession and the “me” decade
  • The glitzy Reagan Eighties meant a rebounding economy and “Reagan Red”

. . . .

As you invoke relevant cultural, political and social trends in your stories, you will draw your reader into recognizable and relatable settings against which your characters’ problems and pleasures can play out.

The days when Nice Girls Didn’t morphed gradually but inevitably into the present when Nice Girls Do—and sometimes even post the video.

The years when girls who got inconveniently pregnant were sent away in shame has become today’s Single Mom.

. . . .

We’re not writing non-fiction. I’m not talking about giving your reader a history lesson—that’s Doris Kearns Goodwin’s job—but you do want to give your characters a recognizable world in which to live.

But your characters can—and should be—shaped by the attitudes of whatever setting and period you choose to write about.

Link to the rest at Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s Blog

And here I say to parents

29 November 2017

And here I say to parents, especially to wealthy parents, ‘Don’t give your son money. As far as you can afford it, give him horses.’ No one ever came to grief except honourable grief through riding horses. No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle. Young men have often been ruined through owning horses, or through backing horses, but never through riding them unless of course they break their necks, which, taken at a gallop, is a very good death to die.

Winston Churchill

Cyber Monday Sets New Record as Largest Online Sales Day

29 November 2017

From Multichannel Merchant:

Adobe reported that Cyber Monday hit a new record as the largest U.S. online sales day in history, with $6.59 billion in sales, up 16.8% from $5.6 billion in 2016.

According to Adobe, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day brought in $5.03 billion and $2.87 billion, respectively. The holiday shopping season so far has totaled $50 billion in online revenue, again a 16.8% increase and more than $1 billion per day. Adobe is predicting this will be the first-ever holiday season to break $100 billion in online sales.

“This past Cyber Monday, the behavior of shopping your work computer during the day is almost completely reversed,” said Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights. “This year, mobile shopping was dominant both in the morning and afternoon, and desktop only staged a comeback in the evening when people were home.”

Web traffic to retail sites increased by 11.9% on Cyber Monday, nearly double the holiday season average to date (5.7%). Mobile set a new record with its first $2 billion sales day. Smartphones accounted for 37.6% of retail visits and 21.3% of revenue, Adobe said, while tablets were used more as entertainment. Gaming devices accounted for 8.2% of retail visits and 9.1% of revenue on Cyber Monday.

. . . .

Gina Ashe, CEO of ThirdChannel, said despite retailers’ optimistic comments over the weekend about online success and steady in-store traffic, doubts remain about brick-and-mortar performance through the rest of the holiday shopping season.

“The vast majority visit stores only after researching products and gifts ahead of time, so they expect staff to tell them something they don’t know about a product, or give them an immersive demo or experience that can’t be replicated online,” Ashe said.

She added if brands don’t prepare staffing, displays and inventory to demonstrate that value when shoppers hit their store, they’re bound to lose interest.

Link to the rest at Multichannel Merchant

Last Vacay Photos

29 November 2017

Mrs. PG and PG spent a few days with their daughter and her family in the Central Valley of California. For those unfamiliar with the Central Valley, it lies between some coastal mountain ranges on the west and the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the east. The valley is 40-60 miles wide from east to west and about 450 miles long from north to south and has a hot Mediterranean climate.

The Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world and provides more than half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States. More than 230 crops are grown there, including oranges, olives, peaches, pomegranates, figs, kiwifruit, lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, almonds, grapes, cotton, apricots, and asparagus. The Valley also grows a wide variety of Asian vegetables, primarily for export markets.

The PG’s stayed in a lovely b&b during the visit. It is an old farm house, built in the late 1800’s and owned by the same family every since. Large groves of Valencia orange trees surround the farm buildings, houses and b&b.

The owners have included a lot of lovely touches inside and outside of the old farmhouse. Photos of a few follow:





How to Get Your Mind to Read

29 November 2017

From The New York Times:

Americans are not good readers. Many blame the ubiquity of digital media. We’re too busy on Snapchat to read, or perhaps internet skimming has made us incapable of reading serious prose. But Americans’ trouble with reading predates digital technologies. The problem is not bad reading habits engendered by smartphones, but bad education habits engendered by a misunderstanding of how the mind reads.

Just how bad is our reading problem? The last National Assessment of Adult Literacy from 2003 is a bit dated, but it offers a picture of Americans’ ability to read in everyday situations: using an almanac to find a particular fact, for example, or explaining the meaning of a metaphor used in a story. Of those who finished high school but did not continue their education, 13 percent could not perform simple tasks like these. When things got more complex — in comparing two newspaper editorials with different interpretations of scientific evidence or examining a table to evaluate credit card offers — 95 percent failed.

. . . .

In one experiment, third graders — some identified by a reading test as good readers, some as poor — were asked to read a passage about soccer. The poor readers who knew a lot about soccer were three times as likely to make accurate inferences about the passage as the good readers who didn’t know much about the game.

That implies that students who score well on reading tests are those with broad knowledge; they usually know at least a little about the topics of the passages on the test. One experiment tested 11th graders’ general knowledge with questions from science (“pneumonia affects which part of the body?”), history (“which American president resigned because of the Watergate scandal?”), as well as the arts, civics, geography, athletics and literature. Scores on this general knowledge test were highly associated with reading test scores.

Current education practices show that reading comprehension is misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

The End of the Social Era Can’t Come Soon Enough

29 November 2017

From Vanity Fair:

Many people imagine 19th-century antebellum America as a frontier fantasia: men with handlebar mustaches sitting in dusty saloons, kicking back moonshine whiskey, as a piano player picks out tunes in the background. In reality, though, life was a little more sordid: Americans spent their time after work in fully legal heroin dens; in 1885, opium and cocaine were even given to children to help with teething. “Cocaine Toothache Drops,” which were marketed as presenting an “instantaneous cure” were sold for 15 cents a box. Today, in the midst of our opioid crisis, we hear about this past and wonder unequivocally, what the hell were they thinking?

I often wonder the same thing when I think about social media and its current domination of our society. Will a future generation look back in 10, 20, or maybe 100 years from now and wonder, mystifyingly, why a generation of humans believed in these platforms despite mounting evidence that they were tearing society apart—being used as terrorist recruitment tools, facilitating bullying, driving up anxiety, and undermining our elections—despite the obvious benefits and facilitations they provide? Indeed, some of the people who gave us these platforms are already beginning to wonder if this is the case. Last month, I wrote a piece detailing how some early Facebook employees now feel about the monster they have created. As one early Facebook employee told me, “I lay awake at night thinking about all the things we built in the early days and what we could have done to avoid the product being used this way.”

After the piece published, I expected to receive angry e-mails and text messages from current or former Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram employees. Instead, my inbox was flooded with former (and even current!) employees of these social networks, who confided that they felt the same way. Some even mentioned they had abandoned the platforms themselves. The people who reached out ranged in pay grade from engineers to C-suite executives. Some venture capitalists who once funded the companies, or their competitors, have told me that they no longer use them—or do so sparingly.

. . . .

[T]he social-media boom, powered by the growth of mobile computing, is over. “Whether the tech industry can move beyond mining our social anxieties to sell ads, or feeding our anger to increase engagement, may require renegotiating a new relationship between the Bay Area and the rest of the country.”

. . . .

I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and Snap from my phone. I now log onto Facebook once a month, if that (and it’s more for a drive-by look to make sure no one has messaged me on there, rather than to like a post or comment on a picture). I haven’t logged into Snap in a year or more. I went from sharing a picture on Instagram three times a day, to now doing so three times a year. While I still use Twitter sparingly for professional purposes, I delete the app from my phone on weekends because looking at it either makes me sad, angry, or anxious.

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair

Type & Tell Is Closing

28 November 2017

From Type and Tell:

It is with great regret that we have to announce that Type and Tell UK will cease trading at the end of 2017.

As a result, it is no longer possible to create a new account, and packages and services are no longer available for purchase. All registered users can download files from the Book Editor as Word documents.

Please do this before 9th December 2017 – after this date your T&T Dashboard will no longer be available.

Our customer service centre will remain fully operational until 5.30pm on our last day of business – which will be on 20th December 2017 – so if you have any enquiries about your files or require any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Link to the rest at Type and Tell and thanks to Jan for the tip.

It appears to PG that this was a variation of a basic vanity press operation, including:

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