More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Cosmos and Inherit the Wind

Cross-examination scene from Inherit the Wind

Scene from Inherit the Wind (1960) from The Ticket Booth

I’m enjoying the new Cosmos series. However, Neil deGrasse Tyson seems to spend a lot of time attacking young earth creationism, and the creationists have been fighting back. I find this puzzling. I grew up in the 1960s when we thought this was all settled. Evolution and creationism fought as we saw in Inherit the Wind. Creationism won that battle, but evolution won the war — or so we thought. What happened? Why did creationism lose in the mid 20th century, and why is it even up for debate again?

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“Fighting the last war”

Part of the Maginot Line in France

Part of the Maginot Line in France (By John C. Watkins V from Wikipedia)

What can the Maginot Line in France teach us about problem solving? It helped me discover a flaw in my thinking, an error in the way I’ve been dealing with an important issue in my life. It showed me the danger of “fighting the last war.”

The Maginot Line was France’s response to the rising threat of Nazi Germany. The French government looked at their experiences in World War I and thought building fortifications along their border with Germany was the best way to defend themselves from attack. Their plan proved inadequate against Germany’s updated weapons and tactics. It was an example of the old adage, “Generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it.”

This isn’t just true for generals, and the fear of defeat, not the complacency of victory, can cause us to fight the last war.

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“…Then, why are you looking for an agent for your next book?”

Offline at Barnes and NobleMatthew, you say you like independent publishing. Then, why are you looking for an agent and publisher for your new novel, The Ghosts of Reseda High?

Because, why not?

I don’t see a conflict between independent and traditional publishing. One doesn’t eliminate the other, and a growing number of authors are learning to use both successfully. As I wrote in my post, “Independent publishing is not for everyone.” It’s also not for every book. The Ghosts of Reseda High is one of those books.

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What Chopped can teach you about writing

"Whose writing is on the Chopping Block?" (Photo from Food Network)

“Whose writing is on the Chopping Block?” (Photo from Food Network)

One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped. I love the thrill of the competition, and I love learning about new food and ways to prepare it. (When I was at the WritersUA conference, I was one of the few people who recognized the dragon’s fruit on the buffet table.)

Chopped also provides great lessons about creativity beyond the kitchen. You can even learn a lot about writing from that show. Here are the lessons I learned.

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Habits in fact and fiction

I finished reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It’s an excellent and useful book (especially because I need to change my eating habits). This book also helped me understand character development in fiction.

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