Friday, October 14, 2011

What does it take to write a book? (Part 2)

So what does it take to write a book, besides letting the housework go to hell? Here's what I did for my book over the last nine months:
  • Read 40 books cover to cover
  • Read portions of another 23 books
  • Read over 100 articles or encyclopedia entries (from databases or web sites)
  • Compiled almost 1100 pages of single-spaced notes
  • About 575 of those pages were written by me on books I read
  • The other 525 were copied/pasted from online articles
  • That breaks down to about 646,000 words of notes (338K original/308K copied)
  • Chose 45 images to be included in the book
  • Chose and excerpted 16 primary sources to be included in the book
And what did I end up with?
  • A prologue and seven chapters totaling just over 38,000 words
  • 12 primary sources totaling 18,720 words
  • 10 biographies totaling 11,180 words
  • An overwhelming sense of relief and accomplishment!
There still might be a few tweaks here and there (maybe a primary source or image cut here and there), and I won't know the final page count until the book is typeset, but I think I can feel confident that I was pretty thorough in doing my research and writing. We'll see when the book comes out and the reviews come in next spring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A weighty decision....

Okay, it's only been three months since the last time I went through Boy's pile of college brochures, but the shelf where I keep them is close to bursting and depositing all that unwanted paper on my kitchen floor. I put them all in a box and they're sitting on my ankles right now, and the box is really heavy. So in the interest of keeping my shins unbruised, I'm going to go through these a little more quickly, and only comment if I feel inspired. 

Grand Valley State U (MI, 2): Not just a brochure, but free parking and a meal!
U of Kentucky (13-15): Just in case you forgot about us.
Davenport U (MI), U Detroit Mercy (2), UM-Dearborn (4-5), UM-Flint (1-2)
U of Southern Cal (2-4): Come to LA this summer!
Reed College (OR, 2): No chance, but their annual Nitrogen Day sounds like a blast!
Roosevelt U (IL): Downtown Chicago! Plus my cousin teaches there!
U of Toledo (1-2), U of Dayton, Wooster (3): Come to exciting Ohio?
New York U (2): We did mention New York City, right? 
Rose-Hulman Institute of Tech (IN): The best engineering school you've never heard of.
Aquinas College (MI, 1-2): "The most open-hearted, open-minded college in America ... rooted in the Catholic Dominican tradition." Um, yeah.
Eastern MI U (1-3): Oh, Eastern. You have about as much likelihood of getting Boy to attend as your football team has of going undefeated.
Oakland U (MI, 2): Card is nice, but the dancing bear in your TV ads creeps me out.
Central MI U (1-5): Let's see how many in-state colleges we can ignore!
Kettering U (MI, 2-3): That makes the count 12? 13?
Yale U (1-3): Boy believes in equal opportunity when it comes to ignoring brochures, Ivy League! So 2nd postcard addressed to parents. Then a 124-page soft-bound book. No wonder tuition is high.
MIT (3): News supplement for its 150th year; interesting but maybe unobtainable.
University of Michigan (2): Yeah, baby, we've got the president at the Big House!
Alma College (MI, 1-2): They're called the Scots and a picture showed bagpipes. Run, Boy, run!
Carthage College (WI, 2): There's a picture of a huge lake ... that means huge mosquitoes! Run!
Bowling Green State (2): Ohio trying to outbid Michigan in the number of colleges ignored....
Ohio State (4): ... or mocked.
U of Chicago (10): Whoa. They knew we were ignoring the quirky postcards so they sent a massive brochure. Plus postcards (11-12), letter (13-15), and huge brochure (16).
Rice U (TX, 2): They put the tuition right on there to scare you away. 
Missouri S & T (3-4); U North Carolina (2); Pitt (1-2); Carnegie-Mellon (3); Olin College (MA): ????
Northwood U (MI): "Where can you get a great BUSINESS EDUCATION?" Isn't a major part of business knowing your target market? Brochure FAIL.
Manchester U (IN, 1-2): Apply early, get a FREE T SHIRT!
Rensselaer (NY): If you can spell or pronounce it correctly, you're admitted!
Army ROTC: Please, sir, may I not have another!
Michigan Tech (2): Hmm, tell me more about this full scholarship with tuition and stipend.

And that's enough for this installment. I can feel my feet again, and there's room in the drawer, so the rest can wait for a while. I'm hoping that now Boy is actually filling out college applications, the mail will slow down. Boy's senior year could slow down, too, he'll be out of the house before we know it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photo of the Week--10/10/11

Sometimes nature comes up with an architecture more spectacular than anything humans can dream up.... This was in Florida in 2005, on a boat a trip through Everglades National Park. Pelicans landed on the boat begging for food before we even left, and of course we saw gators, egrets, and even wild pigs. I was fascinated by the shapes we found in the mangrove swamps, where roots and branches twist and combine and create a maze on the water. On a later trip to the state we would take a canoe into the waterways around Naples, where the mangroves grew even closer together and you had to play limbo under many of the branches.