Web Gems: A quick look at openculture.com


I’m sharing three highlights from openculture.com, a leading provider of open educational resources. More to come in the future.

1. http://www.openculture.com/ Scroll to Writing Tips in the inner right column. Guidance from the list of fair-to-middlin’ writers [;->] below is available.

  • Ernest Hemingway
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Stephen King
  • Ray Bradbury
  • William Zinsser
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Toni Morrison
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Margaret Atwood
  • David Ogilvy
  • John Steinbeck
  • Billy Wilder

2. http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
There is a section on journalism and writing, including this
iTunes-based creative writing master class. I figure even if you drop in at your leisure, mug of coffee in hand…

  • No turning heads and ensuing glares from students or teacher. [Even your inevitable coffee spills will go unnoticed.]
  • Tons to learn in convenient time chunks.

3. http://www.openculture.com/free_ebooks
Ebooks from Neil Gaiman, Phillip Dick, David Foster Wallace, and John Muir, as well as some struggling amateurs ;-> like Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Shakespeare. Also, consider scrolling down to the bottom to the ‘Assorted Texts’ section.

Writers Horoscope-July 30: Your high-strung tendencies can be an asset.

Your protagonist Dwayne has been a pin-cushion lately.

It’s time for him to rebel against his office doubling as a cleaning supply closet at ‘Serfs-On-Call’’. Scrawl out ‘WHAT WOULD YOU DO???’ on the nearest Big Mac wrapper, slap it on the wall, take off your pulse monitor, and picture Dwayne.

Feel the burn…you’ve been dissed one too many times…yes, that’s clumsy Art with the plumber’s crack bursting in for a mop replacement and you find yourself engulfed in rolls of bathroom tissue…there you go, now reach for that keyboard.

Hint: Stay off the ledge. You’re only on Chapter 10.

Writers Horoscope-July 29: Introspection is the order of the day.

Tread lightly.

Don’t let ‘What should I be doing with my life?’ devolve into a sniping session that spews  the age-old, ‘Shouldn’t you chisel the cheese encrusted from your front burner?’ or ‘Did the dogs get their hourly dose of love, affection, and Beggin’ Strips?’ or–the most hurtful of all–’Are you gonna wear that today?’.

I should be writing. Instead, I…


…fell prey to a visit to Blueberry Meadows for our annual “‘pickin’ and grinnin’ and bakin’” venture. [Okay, that’s just lame, nor is it a term we’ve ever used, but, according to my wife, it’s safer for all concerned to just humor me and move on as if I’m normal.]

Subconsciously [or consciously–I really have no culinary moral compass], I must have felt I owed it to myself, since yesterday I didn’t give in to my customary saunter through the Farmer’s Market, where I snag a couple of potato flour donuts and a loaf of Altamura bread from Gathering Together Farms.

And if the nice, nice ladies from El Salvador have their griddle warmed up…


you won’t see me turning down a trio of their specialty pupusas.

Not exactly the poster boy for culinary restraint, I admit. [But no worries, we have plans to widen the doorways throughout the house.]


So it was straight to the kitchen after the return home.


[I’d like to claim the pretty, blueberry-infused muffins as mine–“Uh, dear, do you want some batter to go with those blueberries?”–, but those are the work of my wife.

For me, it was time to experiment, as I swirled lemon curd in my half of the batter and I ‘roasted’ some of the berries to bring out the sugar. I sauteéd another handful of berries in a butter/brown sugar/brandy sauce. [In hind-taste, I could have used a bit more brandy.]

Now, for those recipe-writers with the temerity to warn us off the muffins to allow for ‘cool-down’, well, piffle! I mean, why not just grab a fork and dig right into one straight from the pan?

Then again, if you’re one of the effete elite, well, yeah, I guess you probably should wait the whole half-hour so the muffins will come out intact.

Then-then again, with enough batter and a mini-pie plate, compromises can be reached

bluebarry mondo muffin

For the faint of heart, avert your eyes and cover your ears, everybody, I’m goin’ in!

[Don’t tell my wife. You wouldn’t want to disturb her reading anyway, right?]


Verdict? Plenty moist [the lemon curd helped], plenty of berry flavor, and just enough of the citrus overtone to encourage future experimentation.

I’d better stop eating these little hummers so I’ll be hungry for dinner.

Writers Horoscope-July 27

The Sun** pervades your whole existence today.

Simple solution: Take your laptop, your creative life force, and your will to live and move into the shade.

But you do have options…

laptop body sock


**The Sun, the giver of life, represents our conscious mind in Astrology. It represents our will to live and our creative life force. [So I’m told…]

Image Credit: Becky Stern: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bekathwia/2414194397  www.instructables.com/id/Laptop-Compubody-Sock/


Writers Horoscope-July 26

Today? Face reality.

It’s nitty-gritty time in the writer’s workroom.

Yesterday’s [July 25] noble effort to ‘simplify’ has, of course, complicated things.

You’ve discovered a wealth of vivid characterization, intriguing plot points, and cogent, logical outlining…in freehand.

Time to digitize. Yes, type.

Fire up the Ninja Coffee Bar, cue up your ‘Gettin’ Stuff Done’ playlist, and launch into a keyboarding trance.

See you on the other side.