5 1/2 things I learned in March

5 1/2 things I learned in March

Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.

1. You can use emojis in Scrivener.

Scrivener is the program I use to do all my longform writing, including that book that’s due tomorrow. My novelist friend Ariel showed me how to use emojis to help structure my content and show my process, and it is making my writing life a little better.

(For a mind-blowing look at how a historical fiction writer nails down her structure, check out this photo of Ariel’s office.)

2. The iPhone has an Emergency SOS shortcut.

I didn’t know about the iPhone’s SOS mode until I accidentally activated called it on a recent late-night drive home. My phone called 911 and sent SOS texts to my husband and mother. Not good. But I couldn’t call or text to tell them I was okay because my phone automatically disabled itself!

The idea behind Emergency SOS is that you can discreetly summon help when you need it, without even looking at your screen. On my phone, it’s activated by pressing and holding the side button and a volume button simultaneously.

Well. I have one of these iPhone mounts for my car; I love it because it makes it easy to see maps when I’m driving in unfamiliar places. But when I didn’t properly position my phone, the mount’s claws squeezed my phone buttons … and called 911. And it appears I’m just one of many to do so.

If you have an iPhone, maybe check your own settings?

3. Reading People is now in airports!

With a totally different cover, and that is not an accident. This is a Choice Books edition, which prefers covers that are colorful and easy to read for shoppers who are quickly browsing.

Get a copy of Reading People right here, but to get a copy of Understanding You (same book, different cover) keep your eyes open the next time you’re in an airport, restaurant, or gas station.

Before I started writing books, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about publishing.

3b. Professional development groups are reading Reading People.

Apparently this has been happening since the book came out, but I didn’t realize it until my local government’s executive training program chose it for their quarterly book club selection—and then, when they subsequently discovered I was local, invited me to come chat.

This was such a fun discovery, and the book club itself was amazing—it’s been a long time since I’ve participated in a book club with such varied readers.

4. I can learn to roll my r’s.

I’ve always felt hopeless about properly pronouncing words like perro and tierra because I am incapable of rolling my r’s. At least I thought I was. But then at a parent-teacher conference for my middle schooler, my child’s teacher gave Will and me an impromptu lesson.

She gave me more detailed instruction, but everything hinges on practicing three progressively harder words: Indri, Intri, Trina.

I still can’t do it, but I’m getting better.

5. Book news!

New books are on the way from Ann Patchett (The Dutch House, 9/24), Charlie Lovett, and Jojo Moyes (Giver of Stars, about the horseback librarians of my home state Kentucky!, 10/8).

What did you learn in March?

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25 comments | Comment


  1. Paige says:

    Years ago, I learned how to roll my r’s by saying bitter, batter, butter over and over and over again. I practiced while riding my bike from my apartment to other places. If I haven’t rolled my r’s in a while, I say the words again to get my mouth to remember how to do it.

  2. Melanie Beisert says:

    I wish I had had that SOS information a month or so ago. My daughter was at an out of town basketball tournament. She accidentally enabled it and we could NOT get it to stop texting us. It really freaked her grandma out even after telling her that all was well. Bookmarked this page for future use.

    I recently learned 20 Self Care Routines from YouTube vlogger at The Whole Happy Life. Great and easy ideas.

  3. Kacie says:

    Wow, the side button plus volume button on my Android just takes a screenshot! Seems like an easy recipe for false alerts

  4. Kathy b says:

    Can it be anything I learned in March? I learned that VITUSVET app from my veterinarian’s office can store my pets health record and even save X-ray photos. SO cool. So good in case we are out of town and a sitter has an issue.

  5. Ginger says:

    Yay for a new Ann Patchett. I have this weird thing with certain living authors where I always want to have one of theirs unread so I’m never totally out of their works to read. I’ve been holding off reading one of hers for years so I always have something in reserve.

    I always think of Desmond from Lost who was waiting to read his last Dickens. I don’t do this with all my completist authors, just a few, and I can’t figure out quite what compels me, but Patchett is one of mine.

  6. Susan says:

    I have learned that it took me years of work abuse and stress to get to where I am today mentally and physically, and will take me years of self-care and rest and patience to be myself again. And that is ok.

    • Danielle says:

      Amen sister!! I realized that if I talked about quitting my job because I’m too sick to work full time, I would get an offer to keep the same job but work fewer hours. Now I am going to lose some benefits, but I’m going to gain back at least some of my health…

  7. Brie says:

    Thanks for posting the tip on flipping/rolling Rs! As a choir director, I’ve always had my singers repeatedly say the word “butter,” increasing their speed with each repetition, to achieve this. I’ll try these new words next time we sing in a language which requires the flipped or rolled Rs.

  8. Susan McDowell says:

    The book about horseback librarians is definitely going on my TBR, thanks for the tip!

  9. Susan V says:

    If you’re interested about the librarians on horseback in KEntucky, I HIGHLY recommend Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin. She’s a wonderful historical fiction author.

  10. During a March vacation in Arizona, I learned to identify a hooded oriole, a Mexican jay, a gila woodpecker, a paraloxia, and a phenapeplia. Next month I may learn how to spell them. My husband is the real birder and was about to conclude that I’d never be able to identify anything besides a cardinal and a blue jay. He is a true lover of Nature and daily inspires me to pay attention to our beautiful planet.

  11. Deborah Ball says:

    This 64 year old grandmother learned how to get to Instagram and follow Anne Bogel, and I am uncovering so many great new reads, journaling tips, and pens!!! Thank you, and a big plug for the deluxe reading box from your website. What a treat!

  12. Deborah Hubbert says:

    Charlie Lovette is one of my favorite authors but I couldn’t find anything new by him coming up. Do we have a title or a date? Also there was nothing new for JoJo Moyes until I put in the exact title, in Amazon.com. Love more info. Thanks

  13. Susan James says:

    I just finished an ARC of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson due out in May. Loved this story about a Kentucky packhorse librarian. Excellent read!

  14. Harriet Clark says:

    I discovered Pete Buttigieg. He’s brilliant, articulate, well-educated (graduate of Harvard and Oxford, a Rhodes Scholar), veteran of Afghanistan in the intelligence area, musician, speaks 7 languages, in his second term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana and has turned the town around, and is only 37 years old! He’s also a wonderful writer as evidenced by his new book, SHORTEST WAY HOME, which is part of a quotation from James Joyce in ULYSSES. He’s running for President and gives me hope for the future.

  15. April Best says:

    Congrats on having a book in airports! That’s so fun 🙂

    I rediscovered how much the sun impacts my energy and motivation — this past week has been bright and warm-ish and I’ve knocked so many things off my checklist. Happy spring, indeed!

  16. Louisa says:

    Thanks for the rr tip! I live in Mexico part of the year and speak excellent Spanish, but have never mastered the rr, or the Spanish r alone, for that matter. I’ll practice with your new words.

  17. Kim says:

    My mind is blown with the “r” tricks. I always thought this was something I just couldn’t do, but after your tips and googling a few other lessons I am so much better at it in just one day. Growth mindset for the win 🙂

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