Jacqui Murray

30 Mar

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-eighth grade, creator of a passel of technology training books for middle school and technology in education generally. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, and more. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Jacqui won the Southern California Writers Conference Outstanding Fiction Award for her upcoming techno-thriller, To Hunt a Sub (excerpt available on Reviewers laud her novel as ‘strongly written’ with ‘interesting and unique plot hooks’. She’s currently working on a prehistoric character-driven novel, Born in a Treacherous Time (excerpt available on She was born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian and an MBA, she worked for twenty years in a variety of industries while raising her two children and teaching evening classes at community colleges. With her children now adults, one in the Navy and one in the Army, she lives in Laguna Hills CA with her husband and two beautiful Labradors.. She teaches computer science to grades K-8 while pursuing her writing.

You can find her columns, guest posts and thoughts at the following digital ezines, blogs and websites:

If you’re interested in having Jacqui guest post on your blog, website, or review a product/website/book for you, please contact her at

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End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

15 Dec

2015This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like this week.

For most writers I know, life zooms by, filled with research, writing, editing, critique groups, reading, promotions (of our books), people watching (to build characters), and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.

But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our blog isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t generate leads or activity, and why our self-published materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:

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11 Tips for Self-Editing Your Manuscript

08 Dec

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

These 11 tips are from Renni Browne and Dave King’s wonderful book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print. If you are preparing a story for your writers group, for a beta reader, or want to knock out the most obvious errors before spending money on a professional copy editor, this book should be on your Christmas list. You’ll notice their comments are more non-judgmental than most reviewers. Their focus is to help you consider important elements of your writing–do they deliver the message you want them to in your writing? Feel free to read more of my review, then check back here for the most important tips Browne and King cover. Here are my favorites:

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Stephen King’s Ten Commandments of Writing

17 Nov

stephen king quotesI got a lot of feedback on Nathan Branford’s 10 Commandments I published a few weeks ago, so I wanted to share another collection. I picked Stephen King because there’s been a buzz about his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, in my PLN–even though it’s a good fourteen years old. When I went searching for his  ubiquitous Writer’s Ten Commandments, I found lots of lists, but each different. It became clear that he has so many great suggestions, trying to distill it to ten became a subjective decision.

What was universal was this #1 Commandment:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Stephen King is another in a long list of ultimate writers who exhort would-be authors that the foundation of good writing is reading. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read that advice from the greats–so often in fact, it’s become more axiom than advice.

I counted sixty-seven ‘Top Ten Commandments” as I was researching this article. Here’s my list of his Top Ten:

  1. Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on.
  2. Write every day.
  3. Find your space.
  4. Write the truth.
  5. Don’t plot.
  6. Practice.
  7. Practice describing.stephen king quotes
  8. Practice showing — not telling — through the use of real dialogue.
  9. Good fiction always begins with story and progresses to theme.
  10. Constant reading will pull you into a place where you can write eagerly and without self consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t; what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying on the page.

Read a list of fifty-six King Commandments here. For favorite King quotes, visit this Goodreads list (you must be a member of Goodreads to view it, but you should join that penultimate writer’s community anyway).

More Ten Commandments:

Ten Commandments from Richard Bausch

Henry Miller’s Ten Commandments of Writing

The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing

To have these tips delivered to your email, click here.

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Edublog Nominee

16 Nov

eddiesThe 2014 Edublog Awards is a community based initiative started in 2004 in response to concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access to educational blog sites. The purpose of the Edublog awards is promote and demonstrate the educational values of these. Once a year, about this time of year, we bloggers get ten days to nominate our favorites in categories that include:

  • Individual Blog
  • Group Blog
  • New Blog
  • Class Blog
  • Student Blog
  • EdTech Blog
  • Teacher Blog
  • Library/Librarian Blog
  • Administrator Blog
  • Influential Post
  • Individual Tweeter
  • Twitter Hashtag
  • Free Web Tool
  • Video/Podcasts
  • Educational Wiki
  • Best Open PD
  • Social Network
  • Mobile App
  • Lifetime Achievement


Then, the good people at Edublog sift through and come up with a short list of nominees.

Nominate your favorite blog by the 24th of November (I’ll do the happy dance if you nominate Ask a Tech Teacher). Click here for the official Edublog nomination form.

Good luck to everyone below who’s hard at work nominating their favorites!

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and dozens of books on how to integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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We Honor Veterans

11 Nov

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


18 Good Reasons I’m NOT Doing NaNoWriMo

29 Oct

nanowrimoNovember 1st-30th–National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know)–is when the entire world picks up a pen and writes. Thousands of words a day with the goal of finishing a novel in a month. Words pour from pens like ants racing to an abandoned picnic. People stop going to movies, watching TV, skip football games, all in the name of literary endeavor.

Last year, over 310,000 people participated. Tens of thousands of them were winners defined in the rules as writing over 50,000 words. NaNoWriMo’s tagline–thirty days and nights of literary abandon–couldn’t be more true. In any month but November, a novel would take from one to ten years to complete, exhaust the writer and infuriate those close to them who don’t understand how fictitious people can be so gal-darn fascinating.

Well, for the fifth year in a row (or the fifteen if I count from Year One), I’ll be skipping this massive meeting of the minds. I weighed the pros and cons, lined them up on two sides of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of college lined notepaper, compared and contrasted, and realized it just won’t work for me. Here’s why:

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8 Tips to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

22 Oct

woman writerEvery year, thousands of people jump into the massive time commitment called NaNoWriMo. They vow to write 50,000 words by November 30th at midnight. Few make it, but many benefit. Here are some tips to help you if you’ve chosen to participate:

  • Each day, write until your mind throbs like a thumb hit with a hammer
  • Dinner is defined as ‘microwave’
  • Choose your words like steps in a minefield–no, don’t do that. Choose them like it’s a field of daisies–no danger there. Just get all those thoughts down on paper. Your goal is quantity–quality comes later.
  • Write until sleep hits you like a prizefighter’s punch
  • If you’ve been struggling with your writing, consider this an intervention. It’s a totally different approach with lots of epeople on the sidelines cheering you on. Go get ‘em!
  • When you need a break, read in your genre. It’s quite inspirational.
  • As you write, the picture you hope to create is probably Michelangelo rather than Jackson Pollock. That’s OK. You’ll fix it later.
  • Whoever or whatever calls you, let it go to voice mail. Except the dog. That may be too important to miss.

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Book Review: Law of Primitive Man

17 Oct

The Law of Primitive Man: A Study in Comparative Legal DynamicsThe Law of Primitive Man: A Study in Comparative Legal Dynamics

by E. Adamson Hoebel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I have a long-standing passion for early man. He is my ancestor. He laid the foundation for what we as Modern Man accomplishes. How did he survive in a feral world where his skin was too thin (unlike the rhino) and his teeth too dull (unlike the sabertooth)? What was his magic tool? To answer these questions, I read the entire Aliso Viejo CA library on prehistoric man. I have a good idea how we made it through the Plio-Pleistocene, evolved from Homo habilis to become the workhorse of the human species–Homo erectus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Humor that Inspires–for Teachers! Part V

09 Oct

funny quotesIf you liked the last Humor that Inspires (Part 1, and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4), here are more to kick-start your day:

  1. “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
    – A Yale University management professor in response to student Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
  2. “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
    – H. M. Warner (1881-1958), founder of Warner Brothers, in 1927
  3. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
    – Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
  4. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
    – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
  5. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
    – Mark Twain (1835-1910)
  6. “A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.”
    – General George S. Patton (1885-1945)
  7. “After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”
    – Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)
  8. “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”
    – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
  9. “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”
    – last words of Pancho Villa (1877-1923)
  10. “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
    – Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Marketing Tips

01 Oct

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. Click the link for details on what #IWSG means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month is the one year anniversary of this group. Instead of an insecurity, we’re sharing tips on writing, publishing, and marketing. Here are my top ten tips on marketing:

  1. Spend a few minutes a day working on the cover bio – “He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego.” But then get back to the work of writing. (credit: Roddy Doyle)
  2. When do you start marketing? When you run out of words to write in your book.
  3. Nothing says ‘marketing’ like spray-and-pray: Post to blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, FB, LinkedIn. Comment on other people’s blogs, tweets, FB stream, LinkedIn discussions. Do this a lot!
  4. Marketing is like Groundhog Day. Every morning, wake up and do everything under #3. And then repeat.
  5. The key to marketing: Get to the part quickly where readers give a s***. They don’t like to waste time.
  6. Marketing is baby steps. Doing something–(see #3 and #4)–anything–lessons the panic of wondering “What the f*** do I do now?”
  7. If speaking nicely about yourself feels like choking on a chicken bone, get over it. It’s like the Heimlich Maneuver–it must be done or your book will die.
  8. When trying a new marketing approach, be a tad on the wildly optimistic side.
  9. Who hasn’t found a room s/he can’t dominate? Pick that room. Share your good news.
  10. The shortest distance between two people is a good laugh. Remember that when you’re marketing.

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