November 1, 2011

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Posted in Events tagged , , at 12:01 am by The Word Jar

Sending out lots of wordy wishes to the intrepid writers who are tackling National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year! These wily wordsmiths will attempt to write a novel that is at least 50,000 words long in the mere thirty days of November. That’s approximately 1,667 words a day. Every day. This is no small feat. Just try it and you’ll see. Thankfully for some, there is no rule saying that the novel has to make sense. But the sheer act of creativity from these writers inspires awe in the less intrepid among us.

Write on, WriMos! I wish you well!


June 2, 2011

Gimme a B-E-E!

Posted in Events tagged , , at 12:30 pm by The Word Jar

Photo by Piotr Bizior, Bizior Photography Courtesy SXC.

It’s that time of year again! Time for the most gifted of our young spellers to gather in the nation’s capital and duke it out, letter by letter. It’s time for the *cue the Rocky theme* 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It’s really no secret that I love spelling. From the weekly spelling lists we got in elementary school to my job as an editor today, putting letters in the correct order has always given me a pretty big thrill.

While I never made it to the national level, I briefly touched the spelling sun when I finally made it to the state spelling bee in eighth grade. I say “finally,” because it really was a journey. I easily sailed through school-level bees to the city-level competition several times. Twice I made it to the regional competition. That first time ended in heartbreak as I misspelled “candelabra.” Surely “candleabra” makes more sense. But on my second trip to regionals, my last year of spelling bee eligibility, I shed all shame from the previous year to spell my way to the top (actually, runner-up).

Preparation for such high-level bees can get intense. If you don’t believe me, just watch the documentary Spellbound. Scripps is nice enough to give participants a slim volume of the possible words that may be used in competition. It is divided into sections–easy, intermediate, and WHAT?! My mom, bless her helpful heart, was just as dedicated as I was, if not more so, to practicing. When she wasn’t busy calling out the words, she’d be huddled over the dictionary and writing in the pronunciations of all the difficult words so she could at least say them correctly. And this woman was a teacher for over twenty years.

But our practice and research was for naught. I finally made it to that grand state stage, and my confidence grew as I lasted the first few rounds. Then I stepped up to the microphone for what would be the last time. Paying close attention to the words the contestants before me were receiving, I knew we were moving into territory I was unsure of. Then it happened. The announcer’s voice cut through the spotlight straight to my heart.

“Spell ‘durezza.'” Spell what again? I had never heard of this word before, let alone practiced it. I asked for a definition. My mom, in the darkened audience, knew what was going on. I never asked for definitions of words I knew how to spell. “A musical term…blah, blah, blah…tempo.” Knowing I had no idea what I was doing and not wanting to prolong the agony anymore by asking for origins or sentences, I just blurted it out.


And the bell goes ding! And if you know anything about spelling bees, the bell is not what you want to hear. It means you need to step off the stage. You have failed.

At the end of the day, I walked away from the state spelling bee in 13th place out of 48 contestants. Not too shabby in the grand scheme of things. I also walked away knowing that I would never again misspell “durezza.” If I ever needed to spell it again. Which hasn’t happened until this post.

But these kids in Washington today, they are going on to bigger and better things. And they are going to do it on television. The Scripps National Spelling Bee will again be televised this year. Coverage of the finals begins at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. And if you aren’t able to catch it, at least check out the Scripps National Spelling Bee website to learn a little bee history and take their sample test. If you dare!

(I got a score of 25; 21/27 words correct. How did you fare?)

May 24, 2011

BEA Starts Today

Posted in Events, Publishing tagged , , , , at 3:12 pm by The Word Jar

Shh….listen! Do you hear the chatter of the booksellers about the latest bestsellers and upcoming must-read titles? Do you hear the scratching of the authors’ pens as they sign the books that cost them their blood, sweat, and tears to write? Do you hear the hand-wringing of the publishing folks over the latest trends in technology and how they affect the printed book? Now take a deep breath…can you smell the books?

No? Then you must not be in NYC for BookExpo America.

Unfortunately, neither am I. But plenty of publishing people are, and they are celebrating all things “book” right now at the 2011 BEA. Technically it kicked off yesterday with the Big Ideas at BEA Conference and other forums, but today is the day the exhibit hall opens and the author panels take place. Row upon glorious row of publisher booths showcasing their upcoming titles, with a few advance copies to hand out as well. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll get lightheaded.

In addition to the main event, the Book Blogger Convention will be held this Friday after BEA winds down. This convention is “intended to provide support, instruction, and social time for people who blog about books.” It doesn’t get much more wonderful than that!

A week of previewing new titles, meeting authors, learning about the latest publishing trends, and gathering bags of books…that’s the stuff of dreams! For now I’ll content myself with following the action through @BookExpoAmerica and any other updates I can find. And as always, there’s the never consoling consolation….there’s always next year!

Is anyone lucky enough to be at BEA this year? Will you be attending the Book Blogger Convention?

March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Posted in Events, Reading Events tagged , , , , at 1:15 pm by The Word Jar

Dress your fox in socks, and let loose Thing 1 and Thing 2! Today is the 106th anniversary of the birth of beloved children’s book author, Theodor Geisel. You may know him better as Dr. Seuss.

In celebration of Dr. Seuss’s work, today is the 12th annual Read Across America Day. Organized by the National Education Association, Read Across America Day is meant to celebrate and promote to children the joys of reading and books. Dr. Seuss’s books are apt cornerstones of this event, as they encourage both learning and imagination in children.

If you have kids, crack open a classic Dr. Seuss (or any book) with them before bedtime. Even if you don’t have kids, put down your boring grown-up reading material and relive your childhood by rereading your favorite children’s book today. And if so inclined, feel free to feast on some green eggs and ham.