Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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we will mail 4 u

Really really busy today. Got about ten copies of a junk email today with the subject header "We will mail 4 U". The return address was obviously junk (nonsense letters), and the only way to get off their mailing list is to phone a long-distance number ("and keep trying if it's busy!"). Grmbl. The tips I picked up on the Spam Filter Page seem to be virtually useless. After installing the suggested filters five days ago, only two (2) junk emails got filtered. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
Discovered a neat new feature of Eudora (my mailing program)...timed email messages. Useful for sending email reminders at specified dates/times (including to myself: "Get offline and do something physical! Now!" :-) ). This sort of thing is only useful for someone who's online a lot. Like me. :) Finished answering the interview questions for the Winnipeg Free Press; hope I didn't sound like too much of an idiot. Canadian postal strike is still on; I'm finding it a bit of a pain because it means I can't send/receive cheques and contracts. Hope the strike doesn't last too long, at least for the sake of those who rely on snailmail for income.

xmas shopping

Ran into a woman in the elevator last night who said that she had already finished her Christmas shopping. Ack. Where do people like this COME FROM? I know several like this, the kind who actually do their xmas shopping throughout the year so that when December rolls around, they have very little to worry about. Pah, I say. Pah, and hum-bug! Where's your Christmas spirit? Don't you people realize that an essential part of the holiday season is the panicked headless-chicken madly rushing around at the last minute? Wrestling with other shoppers over the last pair of electrically-heated mittens or giggling Elmo (or whatever that Sesame Street creature was called). What fun would Christmas be if we didn't go through this annual ritual of panic and over-indulgence? I am pleased to say that I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet. I haven't even begun to THINK about Christmas shopping. For heaven's sake, Hallowe'en was just last weekend. Or a few weekends ago. Hm. (Debbie checks her PalmPilot calendar) Well, maybe I'm a bit late. Dear lord. It's ONLY A MONTH UNTIL CHRISTMAS. Eek.
To David: I have now read so many bad reviews of Starship Troopers that I am compelled to see this movie.

guidelines db

Bantam has paid approx. 3 million bucks for the new trilogy of prequels to DUNE, Frank Herbert's classic 1965 science fiction novel. The new prequels will begin publishing in 1999 and will be written by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert's son) and Kevin J. Anderson (author of several X-Files and Star Wars series books), supposedly based on notes and outlines left by the author (who is now dead, in case any of you didn't know). I liked the first Dune book quite a bit, but my enjoyment of the other books decreased with each sequel. I'm curious about the prequels. I've never been keen on reading books of this type, with other authors using another's characters/settings. Curiosity might compel me to try the first prequel, however, especially since the story itself will be based on Herbert's own notes. How do you the rest of you feel about this? And how did you like the movie version of Dune? I confess I wasn't wild about the movie, even if Patrick Stewart was in it. Rumour has it that ABC/Sci-Fi Network is going to be launching a miniseries based on all the previous Dune works. I'm skeptical about this (but will watch it anyway, of course). :-)

My Inkspot Online Guidelines Library needs fodder! The Library will eventually be a searchable database of publisher guidelines for writers. The database has been finished and I've started preliminary testing but need a bunch of pseudo-publisher entries to be added. Please pardon the sometimes kludgy-looking user interface screens...I'm working on that now. But you have a spare moment in the next few days, please do add a pseudo book publishing company or pseudo magazine. Here are the instructions:

Basically, you have to pretend to be a publisher of
a magazine or a book wanting to add your market information
listing to Inkspot.

You should first register at:

1. Go to Publisher Registration.

2. Choose either magazine or book publisher, then press "Register >>"

3. For username, please choose something like "yourlastname1"
or "yourlastname2" etc. so I know you created the listing.
For email address, use
Write down your username and password somewhere for reference.
You can make up everything else. When you're done, press "Continue >>"

4. You'll see a verification of the info. Press "Approve >>"

5. Go back to

6. Go down to Edit/Add Listing.

7. Login with the username and password you selected earlier.

8. Choose "Add Listing"

9. Fill out the series of forms and keep hitting "Approve >>" until
you get the message "Listing has been entered".

PLEASE don't spend a lot of time filling out the forms. These listings
are dummy listings only and will be eventually deleted. You don't need
to fill out all the fields.

10. If you have time, feel free to add more publications under
this publisher name.

However, please do not add any dummy listings after the end of this month (i.e. after Nov. 30) since I hope to be going semi-live soon after that (adding real publisher guidelines). Thanks VERY much in advance!!!



Anne Walker is desperate for Teletubby dolls/teddybears! Apparently there's a craze for them over in the UK, and Anne wants to get one for her son. I've never heard of them and have no good toy store in my area, but perhaps one of you has? She's willing to reimburse any expenses. If you have any info, please contact her at (see Blatherchat for more details). Congrats to Graham Leathers and his brother Gord on getting their acceptance to the Edmonton Fringe Festival next year! More details available from Graham at To Kerstin Droege: hey Katy! Good to hear from you...I'm looking forward to meeting you at FKO!!! We didn't go to Hamburg...I think the closest we got was Wolfenbuttel. I'll have to polish up some German to impress you with when I see you next year. UT had dinner with David Goulden last night (David did most of the sound engineering for our album and fights dirty (i.e. like a boy) in pillowfights). We ate at an Hungarian restaurant, yum. Allison and Jodi were shocked at how long David's hair had grown. I offered to put his hair in pigtails, but David politely (well, maybe not so politely) declined . We went to a coffeeshop for decadent coffees and dessert afterwards; Allison, Jodi and I all had Irish Cream cake. YUM. I am nearly finished the OVFF report, will post it online soon (unfortunately Allison's computer ate the report she was working on :-( ).

germany visit

Got home yesterday afternoon. Germany was great, though we weren't there nearly long enough (it seemed like by the time I adjusted to the time difference, we had to go home!).

Main Things I Learned On The Trip:

1. Most German tourist books say that everyone in Germany speaks English. This is a Lie.

2. "Sprech sie Englisch?" should be one of the phrases you learn first. If the person answers "a little", this is the equivalent to saying "no". :-)

3. In some public restroom areas, a woman sits outside the doors beside a table with a bowl of change. This is the cleaning woman, and she expects to be tipped 20-50 pfennigs. If you don't tip her, she gives you a dirty look.

4. The bread in Germany is to die for.

5. So is the Goslar jagar schnitzel and Nuremberg bratwurst.

6. Don't jaywalk. (My friend Scott jaywalked in Mainz once, and an old man followed him all the way to the train station just to ream him out about it, calling out "For shame! For shame!")

7. The word for chocolate is "schokolade".

We ended up not going to Zurich, opting instead to stay in Germany and spend a little longer checking out scenic villages and towns. The cathedrals were amazing; it's a wonder my neck didn't get sore from all the gawking up at lofty ceilings and soaring pillars. The language barrier was a fairly big one; if Scott hadn't been with us to translate, it would have been much more difficult to do straightforward things (like order from a menu, for instance). I wish I had done some more language prep before the trip. In just the week we spent in Germany, however, Jeff and I both picked up quite a bit in terms of learning essential phrases (distinguishing between "Men" and "Women" on restroom doors, for instance! Also stuff like "exit", "entry", "one way", "entry forbidden", "old town", "town center", "good morning", "thank you", "please", "I speak no German", that sort of thing) The first part of the trip was spent in smaller villages, where very few people spoke English and there were few foreigners...I didn't see a single non-white person until we went to larger (and more touristy) cities like Nuremberg and Mainz.

Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful with our bumbling about with trying to pronounce things from my phrasebook.
I'll probably go on more about our Germany trip in future blatherings. Came home to 1788 email messages, mostly work-related. Catching up is going to be quite the challenge, I think.

Today's Site: Spam Filter Page. If your email software has filtering capabilities, this might be a solution for you...uses only fifteen filters. I'm going to try this and will report on any noticeable difference.

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