Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Lessons I Learned From a Computer

27 Oct

Life is hard, but help is all around us. The trick is to take your learning where you can find it. In my case, as a technology teacher, it‘s from computers. Here are ten lessons I learned from my computer. The first four, I’ve shared before. The last six I’ve experienced first hand over the past year. See which you relate to:

#1: Know when your RAM is full

illustration of a female worker sleepingRAM is Random Access Memory. In the computer world, it controls how much you can work on at any given moment. If you exceed your computer‘s RAM, it won’t be able to remember anything else (computer programs stall or stop). Humans have a mental workspace–like a desktop–that controls how much we keep in our thoughts before it is shuffled off to long- and short-term memory. For people with eidetic memories, it‘s very large. For most of us, size is controlled by:

  • how complicated the subject is
  • how many numbers there are
  • how many specific facts there are

I know my limits and I don‘t feel bad about grabbing a pencil to take notes or asking someone to slow the heck down. You shouldn‘t either. Figure out the limits of your RAM and accept it. Don‘t be afraid to say, My RAM is full! That‘s what computers do.

#2: You Can‘t Go Faster Than Your Processor SpeedCircuit Board

Everyone wants a computer with the fastest processor speed. That means we as the owner get more done in less time. The computer seems to understand what pace is best for its mother board and maintains that pace, no matter if we yell, scream, or kick its tires. Why? Because it can only work as fast as its parts allow it to.

This is also true of your personal processing speed. It is what it is. Your ability to think through problems and consider issues is determined by your mental and physical framework. No amount of lusting after those with a photographic memory will change your circumstances. Accept yourself for what you are. Revel in it. Own it. Enjoy your strong points and work around the weak ones.

Here‘s something you may not know. No one is perfect and everyone has weaknesses. Successful people re-form arguments and situations to accommodate their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. You can too. Who cares what your processing speed is if your hard drive is to die for?

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Let Students Learn From Failure

19 Oct

Too often, students–and teachers–believe learning comes from success when in truth, it’s as likely to be the product of failure. Knowing what doesn’t work is a powerful weapon as we struggle to think critically about the myriad issues along our path to college and/or career. As teachers, it’s important we reinforce the concept that learning has many faces.

Here are ten ways to teach through failure:

whats a mulliganUse the Mulligan Rule

What’s the Mulligan Rule? Any golfers? A mulligan in golf is a do-over. Blend that concept into your classroom. Common Core expect students to write-edit-resubmit. How often do you personally rewrite an email before sending? Or revise instructions before sharing? Or have ‘buyer’s remorse’ after a purchase and wish you could go back and make a change? Make that part of every lesson. After submittal, give students a set amount of time to redo and resubmit their work. Some won’t, but those who do will learn much more by the process.

Don’t define success as perfection

When you’re discussing a project or a lesson, don’t define it in terms of checkboxes or line items or 100% accuracy. Think about your favorite book. Is it the same as your best friend’s? How about the vacation you’re planning–would your sister pick that dream location? Education is no different. Many celebrated ‘successful’ people failed at school because they were unusual thinkers. Most famously: Bill Gates, who dropped out of college because he believed HabitsofMindhe could learn more from life than professors.

Education pedagogists categorize these sorts of ideas as higher-order thinking and Habits of Mind–traits that contribute to critical thinking, problem solving, and thriving. These are difficult to quantify on a report card, but critical to life-long success. Observe students as they work. Notice their risk-taking curiosity, how they color outside the lines. Anecdotally assess their daily efforts and let that count as much as a summative exam that judges a point in time.

Let students see you fail

One reason lots of teachers keep the same lesson plans year-to-year is they are vetted. The teacher won’t be surprised by a failure or a question they can’t answer. Honestly, this is a big reason why many eschew technology: Too often, it fails at just that critical moment.lesson plan

Revise your mindset. Don’t hide your failures from students. Don’t apologize. Don’t be embarrassed or defeated. Show them how you recover from failure. Model the steps you take to move to Plan B, C, even X. Show your teaching grit and students will understand that, too, is what they’re learning: How to recover from failure.

Share strategies for problem solving

Problems are inevitable. Everyone has them. What many people DON’T have is a strategy to address them. Share these with students. The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice is a good starting point. Mostly, they boil down to these simple ideas:

  • Act out a problem9965429373_d1f7168616_b
  • Break problem into parts
  • Draw a diagram
  • Guess and check
  • Never say ‘can’t’
  • See patterns
  • Notice the forest and the trees
  • Think logically
  • Distinguish relevant from irrelevant info
  • Try, fail, try again
  • Use what has worked in the past

Post these on the classroom wall. When students have problems, suggest they try a strategy from this list, and then another, and another. Eventually, the problem will resolve, the result of a tenacious, gritty attack by an individual who refuses to give up.

Exult in problemsconcept crumpled paper light bulb metaphor for good idea

If you’re geeky, you love problems, puzzles, and the maze that leads from question to answer. It doesn’t intimidate or frighten you, it energizes you. Share that enthusiasm with students. They are as likely to meet failure as success in their lives; show them your authentic, granular approach to addressing that eventuality.

Assess grit

Success isn’t about right and wrong. More often, it’s about grit–tenacity, working through a process, and not giving up when failure seems imminent. Statistically, over half of people say they ‘succeeded’ (in whatever venture they tried) not by being the best in the field but because they were the last man standing.

Integrate that into your lessons. Assess student effort, their attention to detail, their ability to transfer knowledge from earlier lessons to this one, their enthusiasm for learning, how often they tried-failed-retried, and that they completed the project. Let students know they will be evaluated on those criteria more than the perfection of their work.

Let students teach each otherBusiness gender figure on maze background

There are many paths to success. Often, what works for one person is based on their perspective, personal history, and goals. This is at the core of differentiation: that we communicate in multiple ways–visually, orally, tactally–in an effort to reach all learning styles.

Even so, students may not understand. Our failure to speak in a language they understand will become their failure to learn the material. Don’t let that happen.  Let students be the teachers. They often pick a relationship or comparison you wouldn’t think of. Let students know that in your classroom, brainstorming and freedom of speech are problem solving strategies.

Don’t be afraid to move the goalposts

Even if it’s in the middle of a lesson. That happens all the time in life and no one apologizes, feels guilty, or accommodates your anger. When you teach a lesson, you constantly reassess based on student progress. Do the same with assessment.

But make it fair. Let students know the changes are rooted in your desire that they succeed. If you can’t make that argument, you probably shouldn’t make the change.

Success is as much serendipity as planningidea handwritten with white chalk on a blackboard

Think of Velcro and post-it notes–life-changing products resulting from errors. They surprised their creators and excited the world. Keep those possibilities available to students.

Don’t reward speed

Often, students who finish first are assigned the task of helping neighbors or playing time-filler games. Finishing early should not be rewarded. Or punished. Sometimes it means the student thoroughly understood the material. Sometimes it means they glossed over it. Students are too often taught finishing early is a badge of honor, a mark of their expertise. Remove that judgment and let it be what it is.

I leave you with five of my favorite quotes about failure. If you have one, please share it in comments:

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” –Henry Ford

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That’s why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” –Thomas Edison

“We learn from failure, not success.” –Bram Stoker

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next without loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill

More on problem solving:

How to Compare and Contrast Authentically

What to do when your Computers Don’t Work

How to Teach Students to Solve Problems

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, 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, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

22 Jun

tridentAfter a four-year hiatus from the first book in my Delamagente-Rowe series, I finally think I’ll get it done. I had a few interruptions–agent interest in the series’ second book, deadline for two non-fic series I write–but I think I’m going to make it this time. The short blurb for this thriller–still a work-in-progress is:

…a brilliant PhD candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky bot team up to stop terrorists from stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine.

Here’s what I did this week:

  • finished the final draft. I still have the Prologue to tighten up, but that’s it. Ah, I can almost smell the scent of freshly-printed books awaiting their new owners.
  • creating a short list (not my usual 101 people) of agents who might be interested. I’d love for this to work because then I don’t have to design the cover, copy edit, arrange printing–but I’m fine self-publishing. Part of what slowed this book down (and the other three I have languishing in the bottom drawer of my desk) was waiting for responses. More importantly: Hoping for acceptances that never arrived. I’m not going down that rabbit hole again.
  • thought about reviewing my acknowledgements. A lot of people helped me with their knowledge of military procedures, but it’s been awhile and I need to make sure the information is still current.
  • thought about the cover. I have found a few people who might be able to help with that.
  • thought about a copy editor. Like the cover, I have a few names, maybe narrowed down to one. I’m crossing my fingers
  • not yet thinking about marketing. Maybe that’ll show up on the next update.
  • not yet thinking about a book trailer. I’ve seen some I like done with a free tool like Animoto. That’s probably the direction I’ll go if I even do this.

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How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

16 Apr

to do list for novelHere’s an update on my upcoming novel, To Hunt a Sub:

  • It’s fully drafted. Now I’m fact-checking
  • I’m awaiting eagerly a meeting with a friend who will help pin down some critical geeky, techie details. That’s my last step!
  • After that, I’ll re-read–for the fginal time I hop
  • I still need a cover. I’m finding images (like the ones I’ve posted in other articles on this topic, to see if they resonate long-term with my feeling for the book
  • I still need an editor. I have a couple of ideas. Anyone have one they love?
  • I have the publisher set up–the same people I’ve worked with on all my books. They’re amazing–fast, affordable, and good to work with

Sending it to the publisher of course doesn’t mean I’m done. It simply means a new TODO list that focuses on marketing. More on that later…

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21 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day

15 Apr

earth dayApril 22nd is Earth Day. Celebrate it with your students by letting them visit these websites:

  1. Breathing Earth
  2. Breathing Earth YouTube Video–of CO2 use, population changes, and more
  3. Conservation Game
  4. Earth day collection
  5. Earth Day—NASA Ocean Currents
  6. Eco-friendly house
  7. Eeko World
  8. Ecotourism Simulation–for grades 4 and above
  9. Electrocity
  10. Footprint calculator
  11. Home of the Future
  12. My Garbology
  13. NASA City

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Summer PD–What are you looking for?

23 Feb

Every summer, Ask a Tech Teacher offers summer training.summer tech

Summer Online Classes

We also offer online Summer PD on a variety of topics from specific skills (how to use Google Forms, how to use Tellagami–that sort) to overarching concepts (how to differentiate, how to scaffold learning, how to build a curriculum map). This is where we need your…


In the form below, please vote for all choices that fit your interests. Once we’ve determined what you-all need, we’ll organize the class and notify you. Here are the choices (there’s a spot to add your comments so please tell me if there’s something else you want):

  • How to … use online tools like Evernote, Prezi,
  • How to… use software like MS Word, Excel, Photoshop
  • How to… use Google Apps in your classroom
  • How to… accomplish Big Goals (like problem solving, differentiation with tech)
  • How to … accomplish specific goals (like internet research, assessment, grading tech, create a class wiki, blog with students)
  • Pedagogic topics (keyboarding in class, inquiry, project-based learning)
  • Do you want to meet in Google Hangouts or taped webinars?

We’d love to hear from you about what you’re looking for this summer as you plan your professional development.  Please take a minute to vote in this poll:


Curious about last year’s class? Here are 11 take-aways–what the students and teachers loved about the class.

Summer Professional Development

We come to your school and train your teachers to use one of our curricula (K-8 technology, K-8 Keyboarding, and K-8 Digital Citizenship), virtually or in person. If you’re interested in that, please email us at

Online Keyboarding

More on that later…

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. 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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55 Interesting Intel Devices

17 Feb

Often in my novels, I use digital devices to create havoc in my plot. There are so many ways to do that–electronic eavesdropping, cloning smartphones, stealing wifi signals–that I now keep a list of the devices and purposes. See if any of these motivate–or frighten–you.

A note: These are all from novels I’ve read and therefore for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).


  • Each keystroke made a distinct sound, as individual as a fingerprint. As the strings of keystroke clacks and clatters were beamed across the Atlantic, they were processed and stored at the Tordella Supercomputer Facility on the grounds of Fort Meade. Space bars, for example, made a very different sound when struck than regular keys. So did the return key, and it was always struck at the end of a string of characters representing a command. Certain strokes–the numbers 1 and 2 and the letters e and a, for instance–were statistically more common than others. Over the course of an afternoon, the NSA’s powerful description algorithms could with fair to high reliability assign an ASCII code to each distinct keystroke click, producing a transcript of Lockwood’s typing that would be almost as clear as it would have been… with a camera peering over her shoulder.
  • Keylogger, wireless—simple device inserted between the USB port and the USB plug of the keyboard, transmit keystrokes and screen shots to a collection device just outside the office
  • A carefully crafted bit of software would graft itself to the operating system running Syria’s military and government computer networks, creating an invisible back door through which the CIA and NSA would have complete and untraceable access.
  • A USB thumb drive from the NSA’s technical support center. A tiny 40-gig external drive, it looked and acted like a 10-gig drive, with the extra memory invisible behind a virtual wall.
  • A flash drive that had beamed the entire contents of Joe’s flash drive to Martin.


  • Facial recognition software
  • The UV light revealed Martin’s latent fingerprints on the pad.
  • handheld Bearcat scanner
  • A RAMCAM, the little fingerprint reader that makes a thermal picture of the print, and the CRIMCON, which is hooked up to a video monitor.
  • a second numeric touch pad, his own alarm, a motion detection system
  • FaceIt—a sophisticated and rapidly evolving biometric software program manufactured by the Indentikit Corp. Would pick out all visible faces
  • SIGINT–monitored radio broadcasts, phone and satellite communications, and internet connections worldwide
  • Flex-8 “F-Bird’, the latest, most sophisticated digital recording device used by OCTF. Battery powered, smaller than a quarter


  • FLIR–forward looking infrared
  • Conducted a series of surveillance detection routes (SDRs) to make sure he wasn’t being followed, like getting off a bus two stops early
  • a spark plug, often referred to as a ghetto glassbreaker


  • Perimeter security was all microwave trip wires and heat sensors and miniature cameras.

Intel kits

  • cash, sterile SIM cards, cell phones, lock-picking tools, a condensed trauma kit, tracking bugs, Tuff Ties, a Taser, folding knife, multitool, IR laser designator, infrared strobe, night vision monocular, compact weapon with high-end ammo
  • A small screwdriver set, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, electrical tape, a small roll of wire, an electrical meter, some alligator clips, two tiny flashlights and lithium batteries and of course, a roll of duct tape.. (to defeat a house alarm, the security box and back-up batteries)
  • They contained all of the hard-to-acquire items an operative might need in a foreign country: cash, sterile SIM cards, cell phones, lockpicking tools, a small trauma kit, tracking bugs, Tuff-Ties, Taser, OC figgers, folding knife, multitool, an infrared and lasser designator strobe, a compact firearm, suppressor, loaded magazines, and extra ammunition, and a handful of other items.
  • When the bird was launched, the owner had no idea it carried extra circuitry they didn’t pay for, certly embedded military data relay links the Allies wouldn’t try to shoot down or jam, because they wouldn’t know

digital securityVocabulary

  • algorithm
  • alias
  • anomaly
  • assets on the ground
  • automated indexer
  • back-hack
  • blip
  • bot
  • bricks and clicks
  • bricks and mortar
  • broadcast storm
  • cipher
  • clandestine
  • console
  • covert, trawler
  • cryptanalysis
  • disinformation
  • flooding
  • formulae
  • hacker/cracker
  • hive mind
  • Infobahn
  • keylogger
  • line eater
  • malfunction
  • neophile
  • network meltdown
  • Operative
  • Personnel databases—Accurint, AutoTrack, LexisNexis
  • real time
  • script
  • soft targets
  • subroutine
  • technopreneur
  • techspeak
  • traffic analysis
  • Trojan Horse
  • web agent
  • web crawler
  • web spider


  • Panic button—looked like a cheap, plastic garage-door opener, bright red, size of a quarter, hung around the neck
  • RFID—radio frequency identification device—a miniature transponder in a credit card that gave off a return signal when it received a recognized interrogation signal.
  • VaporLock-recordless electronic communication. Once you open it, the sender’s name disappears, then the message disappears
  • Iris capture

Emaildigital security

  • Drive-by upload–send an email in HTML format to a targeted computer. Get someone with access to that email to open it and click on a hypertext line. The result was an influx of code into the target computer–a carefully crafted virus, in fact–that took over that computer and gave the sender administrative control.


  • SpyFinder Personal
  • Battery-powered lens will detect any micro camera planted in a room, lighting up the camera’s lens with a red dot even if the camera is powered off at the time. Uses refracted light, only instead of using it to capture an image, it shoots beams of concentrated light that are refracted by the camera’s lens to reveal its position
  • Trick the system into thinking a breach hasn’t occurred or hijack the signal before it gets to whoever’s looking—either a human or a mechanical device designed to start squealing.
  • Spread-spectrum scanner—isolated the nearest signal, which should be the door sensor. He identified the frequency and dialed it into a small device the size of a billiard ball. He attached it to the wall and pressed a button. It softly chirped, then apparently did nothing, but I knew it was now blasting out a signal on the same frequency the door sensor used, overriding its ability to communicate with the control panel.


  • 2 milligrams of Arivan, 5 of Haldol, and 50 of Benadryl, injected intramuscularly. Emergency room psychiatrists called the combo a B-52 and used it to restrain psychotic patients. Haldol caused extreme sedation and reduced muscle control.—essentially temporary paralysis. Benadryl acted as another sedative a counter to the nastier side effects of the Haldo. Ativan was more pleasant, a tranquilizer that reduced anxiety.


  • Used his cell phone and an RSA key to access the restricted URL of the NSAs Whois database of classified IP addresses worldwide
  • Used cell phones to assassinate enemies for decades (call them and it blows up in their ear)
  • Replayed the code in his mind again, sound by sound, and as each sound rang in his memory, he pushed its corresponding number on the keypad. Six tones then a click


  • Knew how to turn on the OnStar microphone even if I’m not on it.
  • I place an audio transmitter the size of a grain of salt under his media console and another in his bedrooma
  • GSM A5.1 Real Time Cell Phone Interceptor—can handle twenty phones in quad band and four base stations and is undetectable


  • trap and trace
  • software inserted into the device’s operating system gave the team rel-time access to Khaddam’s emails, text messages, contacts, photos, voice calls. It also turned the device into a full-time transmitter
  • made a Skype call from his laptop—you can’t trace those with towers
  • An NNR GlobalEye, for the geosynchronous satellite, and then the LEO
  • encrypted, unlocked, quad-band GSM cell phones
  • He hacked my phone, did it electronically. Installed some form of data logger software. All he needed to do was to stand within a few feet of me. I keep the Bluetooth option switched on all the time. He could have simply uploaded it from his phone to mine in a matter of seconds.
  • In the absence of a secure line, Skype was a spies first port of call; near impossible to bug, tricky to trace.
  • Phone cached the video images, transmitting them to the DVR on Wherever when the cache reached capacity. Interchangeable lenses provided ultraviolet and infrared vision


  • Dime-size tracked devices that slide into purses or pockets and the ability to activate webcams on computers without the users’ knowledge

More technology in writing:

Metamaterials and an invisibility cloak

The Science of Star Trek

Demographics of a Trekkie

When does technical become boring

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 

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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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#IWSG–My Writing Style Doesn’t Work

05 Mar

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

This month’s insecurity: What if my style of writing just doesn’t work for the genre I selected?

I have been writing for about 17 years. I started as a fiction writer (had no idea what my genre was), took some classes. Got excited about writing as a craft. I thought it was something I could be passionate about for a lifetime so I wrote a novel. It wasn’t well received. That didn’t stop me. I kept writing and submitting and filing. Write. Submit. File rejection letters. Repeat. Being a smart person, I figured out this wasn’t going to pay the bills so I started writing tech-in-education articles, books, stuff. That worked well. I seemed to have found a good balance of layspeak and tech for lots of people.

But I kept writing fiction, now focused on thrillers. Still I write. Submit. Get rejected. Repeat.

I’m starting to wonder if my writing style doesn’t work for fiction. I’m organized, almost methodical. I like approaches like the Marshall Plan that tells me how many scenes my characters should be part of (not to say I follow it all the time. I like being a rebel). I create my draft in Excel so I can add rows, ideas with alacrity, then convert everything to Word. I probably have all the required pieces of a novel, but I wonder if I’ve organized out the passion. Emotion. Little surprises that just happen and make readers come back.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some success. A first place in a writing competition. Quarter finals in ABNA. I even had an agent for a while… That’s another story. People I respect swear it’s the Universe being quirky, not me being hopeless. I’ve tried quitting, but I’m back at it within weeks, like an addict. I know people who quit smoking and their rough period starts when they quit and continues till they die. Is that what being a reformed writer would be–“Hello, my name is Jacqui and it’s been ten days since I edited my novel…” I get the shakes thinking of that.

Still I wonder. If I self-pub will anyone read? Will I be among those ‘Indie authors who embarrass the profession’? Yikes–I’m depressing myself.

How do you handle this sort of worry?

More IWSG articles:

Am I good enough? Does it matter?–#IWSG

Fear of Saying Dumb Things Scares Me to Death

#IWSG–The World is Changing–Can I keep up

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular 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 and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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A Soldier’s Christmas Poem

20 Dec
This is one of the most popular military Christmas poems I’ve seen. Here’s it’s history, from “A Soldier’s Silent Night”:

“The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, D.C., under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers (in 1986), I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the gym in the BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine.”

Schmidt’s original version, entitled “Merry Christmas, My Friend,” was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December, 1991.

As Leatherneck wrote of the poem’s author in 2003:

“‘Merry Christmas, My Friend,'” has been a holiday favorite among ‘leatherneckphiles’ for nearly the time it takes to complete a Marine Corps career. Few, however, know who wrote it and when. Former Corporal James M. Schmidt, stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., pounded it out over 17 years ago on a typewriter while awaiting the commanding officer’s Christmas holiday decorations inspection…while other leathernecks strung lights for the Barracks’ annual Christmas decoration contest, Schmidt contributed his poem to his section.”

Over the years the text of “Merry Christmas, My Friend,” has been altered to change Marine-specific wording into Army references (including the title: U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”) and to incorporate line-ending rhyme changes necessitated by those alterations.

This poem was written originally by Marine Corps Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. It is narrated by Father Ted Berndt.

See you in a few weeks!

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