Calliope Writing

One-Star Reviews of The Catcher in the Rye

Jen over at The Reader’s Room occasionally lists one-star reviews of incredible books, and last week she focused on my all-time favorite: The Catcher in the Rye.

I’ve loved this novel since I first read it in high school, and have revisited it half a dozen times since.

The Catcher in the Rye

But the reviewers featured in this post didn’t quite share my sentiments.


“It’s the book that killed John Lennon. Oswald had a copy. So I thought ‘What the heck?'” – The best reason ever given for deciding to read a book. Obviously.

“I’m not the kind of person who reads a lot of books and this book is a reason why. First the story is not interesting and also the way it’s told is very stupid.” – No…YOU’RE STUPID!

“If Santa leaves this lump of coal for you, shoot that fat bastard!”

Check out all the awful one-star reviews here: Terrible Reviews of Great Books: The Catcher in the Rye.


Feature image credit: Bruna Ferrara; via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Say it Ain’t So: Fast Typists Are Shitty Writers?!
January 26, 2016, 5:02 pm
Filed under: News, Writing Tips | Tags: , , ,

I’ve always been proud of my typing speed. In seventh and eighth grades, I took a typing class (technically, it was a “keyboarding” class, so I was initially a little miffed to find typewriters instead of electric piano keyboards on the desks) and realized that my childhood piano classes made me quite the proficient typist.

“I can write FAST!” I inwardly bragged. “I can type as quickly as my brain talks to me!”


typing on keyboard

Look at me go!

But Is Speedy Typing a Good Thing?

After reading about a University of Waterloo study‘s findings, however, I don’t know if being a fast typist is something to boast about…

Study participants were asked to type essays, either using one or both hands. After analyzing the completed essays with text-analysis software, the researchers discovered that the tortoise really does win the race–in this case, anyway.

“This is the first study to show that when you interfere with people’s typing, their writing can get better,” said Professor Evan F. Risko, Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition and senior author of the study. “. . . [O]ur results show that going fast can have its drawbacks. This is important to consider as writing tools continue to emerge that let us get our thoughts onto the proverbial page faster and faster.”

Thanks a lot, typing class.

How Fast Are You?

Not sure how you stand on the fast-to-slow typing scale? Here’s a typing test that will determine how many words you can type per minute.


keyboard and mouseI took the one-minute Aesop’s Fables test and scored 89 wpm. Not my best score, but the test still deems it to be “Pro” status. So now I have to work on training my hands to type slowly . . . or I’ll stick to handwriting those drips and dribbles of poems and stories.

Interesting Stories Floating Around the Interwebs

  • One writer’s not-so-idyllic foray into writing in solitude is outlined in an article on The Guardian.
  • Some great advice I tripped over from Lisa Congdon, which can easily be applied to writing:

“Choose one thing you love to draw or paint (and feel comfortable drawing or painting) already: an animal, object, a person, whatever. For thirty days, draw or paint that thing thirty different ways, a different way every day. You can use different mediums, expressions, positions, colors, whatever. Each day, push yourself to do something much different than the day before, but keep the subject the same. See how keeping one element constant (in this case, the “thing” you love to draw or paint) can allow you to break out creatively in other ways.”

  • Copyblogger talks kaizen and gives some killer, yet easy-to-implement, tips on how to be a better, more productive writer. The bathtub marker idea is genius (I use a waterproof pad of paper from AquaNotes).
  • Becoming a Writer: How have I not read this book? Putting it on my Goodreads to-read list now.
  • I came across this great tool to analyze headlines. Perfect for bloggers and marketing writers. I used it for the headline of this blog post, “Say it Ain’t So: Fast Typists Are Shitty Writers?!,” and it was graded with an acceptable B+. I got some great insights, too. Here’s a taste:

headline analysis

Back to our top story: When you write, are you one to type crazy-fast? Or do you take your time, selecting each word as the perfect one comes to you? Or do you say “Screw typing” altogether and opt to write with pen and paper?

RIP David Bowie
January 11, 2016, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Reading, Songwriting | Tags: , , , ,

David Bowie passed away last night at age 69 after a battle with liver cancer.

David_Bowie Jean-Luc

Photo Credit: Flickr user Jean-Luc Ourlin

When I heard the news, I bawled like a baby. I had no idea that a celebrity’s demise could affect me this way, but apparently, Bowie’s could–and did.

So what does this have to do with writing and/or reading?

Bowie Was a Huge Reader

david bowie on read

Photo Credit: Flickr user Michael Sauers

Among his favorite books are:

  • Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990
  • Money, Martin Amis, 1984
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962
  • On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1948
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945
  • The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot, 1922
  • Inferno, from the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, about 1308-1321

He Was a Hell of a Writer

Here are just a few of my favorite Bowie-written songs.

Rest in Peace, David Bowie.

david bowie smiling

Photo Credit: Flickr user Hunter Desportes

Note: Special thanks to Flickr user Eurritimia for the featured image.

Test Your Vocabulary with These Kickass Quizzes
January 8, 2016, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Language | Tags: , , ,

Since I’m a writer and editor by trade, folks assume I have a wicked vocabulary.

silly rabbits

I access Merriam-Webster more times in a week than I can count, and I have no problem asking someone what a word means if I’m unsure. After all, as Confucius said, “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”

If you can relate and want to sharpen those word skills, check out the following vocabulary quizzes . . . and don’t worry. No one needs to know your score.

Test Your Vocabulary: Commonly Confused Words

Deep-seated or deep-seeded? Adverse or averse? You might think this seven-question quiz will be a piece of cake . . . but you could be overestimating your vocabulary skills.

(I missed two of these questions. Doh! You can guaran-damn-tee that I won’t get those words mixed up ever again.)

11 Words You Should’ve Learned in School

Only missed one of these, bitches! (Deciduous – who the hell had that on a vocab quiz in school? Not me.)

But I gotta be honest – a few of these had a big old question mark appearing over my head. Glad to know that my deductive reasoning skills are passable.

How Well Do You Know Your Antonyms? (a.k.a. If You’re Over the Age of Five, You’ll Ace It)


This one’s easy. VERY easy. It’s here to make you feel better if you bombed the above quizzes. So enjoy going back to kindergarten and working on your opposites! (If you miss any of these, it’s okay – I’ll still be your friend. I just won’t think as highly of you.)

And enjoy the Rick-Roll.

Is it a Real Word or Just James Joyce?

James Joyce, you’re such a silly thing. All you Joyce fans will surely get a kick out of this BuzzFeed quiz.

For the record, I clearly haven’t read enough Joyce.

Some Extra Stuff

castle nanowrimo

  • Want to write in a castle? Duh. Of course you do. We all want to. And now we all have a chance to spend NaNoWriMo in a castle…for $4k. Damn, I wish I hadn’t spent my rainy-day fund.
  • Print magazines still exist, dammit! And BuzzFeed has listed some freaking awesome ones here. (I’m most intrigued by The Happy Reader, for obvious reasons.)

And My Spirit Song for Today Is…

This. Play it loud and proud, and rock the eff out. Oh, but be aware that it’s NSFW.

Party Like it’s 1999 – um – 2016
January 1, 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Being Awesome | Tags: , ,

happy 2016

All the best to you and yours! I hope the coming year brings you success, joy, and love.

Check Out My Blogging Habits in 2015 
December 29, 2015, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Being Awesome, Updates | Tags: , , ,

My 2015 annual report is here…

Check it out!

Crossing my fingers that 2016 will bring more blog posts (what can I say? I’m terrible with keeping to a schedule) and more awesomeness in general.

…and that I’ll read even more of these:

And I hope the same for you: great writing and tons of reading. 2016 is going to kick ass.

More More Time – A Book Review
December 18, 2015, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , ,

The year is coming to a close, and we’re all asking the same question: Where in the hell did 2015 go?!


More More Time  – A Book Review

more more timeI’m not much of a book reviewer – I find it difficult to articulate the emotions that certain books evoke. However, I was sent More More Time – which happens to be written by a friend of mine, David B. Seaburn – for me to read and review…so here goes.

More More Time tells the story of six individuals struggling to do what we all do: live life and come out as unscathed as possible and having done as little damage as possible.

The characters are three-dimensional, with their own personalities and quirks, ranging from the Abe-Lincoln-impersonating Max and the buttoned-up-slash-uptight Hargrove to the sunny Constance and the somewhat bitter (and understandably so) Beth. Seaburn knows people, and it’s apparent in his writing; after all, he’s a licensed marriage and family therapist. The guy writes for Psychology Today, for God’s sake. (Dave, why you gotta be so smart?)

more more time quote

I’m certain I’m biased, as I’ve edited two of Dave’s books and will always think of him as both an incredible writer and a wonderful friend, but I can confidently state that this novel is amazing. I laughed quite a few times, not only because a line struck me as funny but also because there were passages that struck me as laughably and terribly true. I cried a few times (no shit – emotional stuff, ladies and gentlemen), and by the end of More More Time, I felt deeply saddened…because it was over, and I would no longer have the opportunity to visit with and learn about these six people.

I heartily recommend that you check out More More Time. Just be prepared for those onion-chopping ninjas to make a visit.

I Read 24 Books This Year

At least, that’s what Goodreads tells me.

How many books did you read in 2015?


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