Sunday, September 27, 2009

Killer Bees!

Today my family and I went up Green Canyon. We've loved living so close to such a beautiful area, and we will miss it when we are gone.

We decided to take a pleasant stroll along the single trail. We enjoyed the leaves, saying hello to other hikers, and finding the extra special rock that must be taken home and placed in a treasure box.

My oldest son was leading the way when he gave out a cry of alarm.


He came tearing down the trail, "It's a nest of bees!" he called over his shoulder as he ran past us and quickly disappeared up the trail.

I could hear some angry buzzing coming from up the trail. Now, I don't like bees as much as the next person, but I was curious. I walked cautiously down the trail. There was buzzing, yes, but I couldn't see bees. What I did see what a bunch of large flies.

And then I spied the 'nest'.

"No bees here!" I called out.

The rest of the family came up the trail. My oldest was at the rear. "What is it?" he asked.

What my son had thought was a nest was actually what we in the business call canine excrement. It was covered in flies, and when my oldest son walked past, the flies scattered; he assumed the worst and ran.

Needless to say the rest of the family got a kick out of the 'bees nest', and my oldest son still hasn't heard the end of it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Technological Generation Gap?

We may be witnessing a serious gap in technology. One that spans thegenerations. But I'm not talking about those wacky old people who don't know a bit from a byte. I'm talking about the youth. That's right, people are starting to wonder if these young kids are using technology like they're supposed to.

A recent report gives us some shocking information. Sixteen percent of people on Twitter are under the age of twenty. While twenty percent are older than 55.


That's right, there are more people tweeting about their dentures than there are tweeting about acne medication. Today, kids use technology to goof off. In my day, we used technology to hack into government computers and start fake nuclear wars. Oh, and goof off.

I'm fine with this. I'm part of the 60+ percent of twitter users between the age of 25 and 55. I'm starting to think that my generation, the one labeled only with an X, is the greatest generation when it comes to technology.

But you see, this is a real problem. I write books for kids, and the internet gives me a never-before-seen opportunity to reach an very wide audience. I can write a blog post and it can be seen by millions of people. Ok, it's only seen by a few hundred, but that is not the point.

But all these new-fangled technological ways to reach my audience aren't coming to fruition because my audience is doing things like...reading actual books. Or playing outside. Or talking with other people. What are they thinking?

Think about it. I can post my book as an e-book, and it can be downloaded onto a kindle or iPhone. But I doubt many 10-year-olds have a kindle or iPhone. I can relase it as an audio book, but again, how many of them have mp3 players? Or for that matter, how many of them even have a commute on which to listen to it? I can let them listen or read it right in the browser; but as good as my book is, it's not going to be more interesting that something like...Keyboard Cat. Seriously, now; how am I supposed to compete with a cat in a blue leisure suit? I'm not, that's how.

So, I need a different medium. I need to find a way to get my stories in the hands of my target audience. A medium they are already familiar with. I could try to go the book route, but then I have agents, editors, publishers, and large bookstores standing between me and my audience.

Ah well, back to the drawing board.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crowd Source Your Game Design

I find the idea of crowdsourcing interesting. Crouwdsourcing is the idea of getting a large group of people to help you out in a project. You pay them a bit of cash, or give them a promise of possible cash, and they do the work for you. Examples might include the X-Prize, or the Netflix Prize. If you want to get in on the money side of crowdsourcing, you can check out Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of boardgames, and Days of Wonder, a top notch publisher of some very good games, has either knowingly, or unknowingly, started crowdsourcing their game design. They held a contest to see who could come up with interesting characters in one of their games. One person had such an interesting idea they are making an expansion to the original game.

Maybe we need a few open-source games, just to see what the wisdom of the crowds can come up with.

Image Courtesy of masmad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The New Group

I've had a lot of life changes in the past few months, and those changes have rippled to other aspects of my life. One change is that I've no longer been able to meet with my old critique group. Since I'm staying down in SLC, it's just too hard to go to the meetings.

Through pure chance, I happened to go out for frozen custard at this year's storymaker conference with a great group of folks. I got chatting with a few up and coming writers, and over the months I've exchanged e-mails and followed their blogs. Through the course of the discussion we came up with the idea of starting our own critique group.

Tonight was our first meeting. Or rather, the first time we got together to talk about a book. And that book was mine.

It was a great experience. They started off by telling my how much they loved my book. They went on and on until my neck muscles were straining, trying to keep my big head upright. "Tomorrow," I thought. "Tomorrow I'll have agents beating down my door, trying to get me to sign up with them".

And then they tore my book apart. Not the kind of tearing that makes you give up and feel discouraged, but the kind of straight-to-the-point, useful, hard-to-hear-but-exactly-what-you-need-to-hear kind of tearing. The feedback was incredible. They didn't pull punches, but those punches were precisely placed. Everything they said rang true.

I came away with two things last night. Five talented writers think my book is really good, and five talented writers told me how my book can be even better.

Time to get working.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Wife's Blog

My wife has started a blog. So for those of you who know both me and my lovely wife, feel free to check it out.

Just ignore the picture of me when I was 23. I looked like a dork. Not the stunning image of grace and strength you all know me as now.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Few and far between...

Wow, when you work two jobs, have a 190 mile commute, and don't have internet access in the evenings, there isn't much time to blog. But I did want to drop a line as I was mentioned and quoted in an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's blog. You can read the article here.

My favorite part of when the gentleman was interviewing me was when he asked about my blog. David Wiley had told him that this was my blog. But then it had this bizarre title. And the guy listed on the side was Matthew Buckley, not Marion Jensen. Was this really my blog?

After I explained the methods behind my madness, all was good.