writer

How I came to write the Scala Cookbook

The funny thing about writing the Scala Cookbook is that it started as a whim. I was just about to leave for a vacation at the beach, and right before I turned off the computer a thought flashed in my mind, “I should contact the people at O’Reilly about writing a cookbook for Scala.” I then had a doubt that they would actually do it, but I applied the “What the heck” rule — i.e., “What the heck, what do I have to lose?” — and sent the email.

I dug around the internet for a few minutes, found the correct O’Reilly email address, sent them a message, turned off the computer, and drove to the beach. While I was at the beach the publisher wrote and said, “Love it, send me a full proposal!”

So if you’re thinking about doing something, but are afraid or uncertain about doing it ... apply the “What the heck” rule, and give it a shot. :)

Do not fall in love with people like me

“Do not fall in love with people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.”

~ Caitlyn Siehl

Ruthlessly edit this text

As I get back into “book writing” mode, it’s funny to find notes like this that I left for myself:

TODO: Edit this text ruthlessly when you’re feeling better.

I was so sick during the last few months, I have no memory of writing that.

~ a note from september, 2016

What do you do for a living?

I went to a local coffee shop and a talkative man behind the counter asked what I do for work. I told him I’m currently writing three books on computer programming, one young adult novel, and a mindfulness app for iOS and Android, in addition to running this website. When you say it out loud it sounds a little crazy, but in the midst of it it’s not a problem, I like bouncing between the projects.

Different perspectives from book reviewers

I recently had a discussion with two people I’m working on a book with, where they are essentially very active reviewers. I like to write with enthusiasm, so I made a particular statement in the book. One person said they thought it was motivating — which was my intent — but the other person said it made them wary. I thought it was fascinating to get such different perspectives.

Lisa Scottoline’s writing is much better in Killer Smile

From LoriDuffWrites.com:

“One thing Scottoline is very good at, is something that many authors are not, and it is a pet peeve of mine. There is a rule in writing – if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in a scene, sometime later that gun needs to be fired. Red herrings are ok, but you can’t have irrelevant details or facts. Scottoline fires every single one of her guns, and that makes me happy.”

I didn’t like parts of Lisa Scottoline’s earlier books because she actually violated this “rule” quite a bit, but in her book, Killer Smile, she keeps the action moving and eliminates at least 90% of the “irrelevant details or facts” that I didn’t like in her earlier books. (Killer Smile is really good.)

On editing your own writing

When I edit my own text, I make comments like those shown in the images. A few of my own:

  • Doesn’t feel like you know what you’re talking about
  • Nice start — dig deeper
  • Just say what you mean
  • You lost me
  • Feels fake — write from the heart (or, write to your muse)
  • Passive!

When I write books I try to complete a chapter, then get away from it for at least a month, then come back and edit it like this.

The images here are from the excellent movie, Finding Forrester.

Every now and then a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths

This is a fun response from this Ask Polly Q&A:

“Your in-laws are next-level, off-the-charts batshit.

Every now and then, a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths. Maybe one person in the group completely and permanently lost their doughnuts several decades prior, and slowly, each member of the group learns that playing along with this singular menace is the only way to survive. Eventually, the members of the group are so utterly confused and gaslit by each other that they enforce the will of the group and nod along with bizarre opinions until they can’t even remember what it means to think logically or have free will or behave like other regular human beings on the face of the planet.

Because these people are confused and weak and angry — and because they’re rendered increasingly more confused, weak, and angry by their exposure to each other — they tend to have less and less contact with those outside the group. And when they do encounter someone who’s not in the fold, they recoil and attack. Anyone who questions the group is attacked with words and actions. Anyone who questions the group is bad, and the group is good.”