Friday, December 30, 2011
For science, I think one of the most significant achievements was Watson, the supercomputer that beat two human Jeopardy! champions.
For the writing and publishing worlds, where do I begin? We lost Borders and beloved author Anne McCaffrey. We're still in the middle of a paradigm shift with the publishing process and the proliferation of possible paths for authors. It's going to be a few more years before things get settled. For me, it was a watershed year with my decision to self-publish Lyon's Legacy--something I never would have considered at the beginning of 2011!
What were the highlights of your year?
Enjoy your New Year's Eve, and I'll talk to you again in 2012. We'll see if I manage to finish one more book before the year ends.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
One of the chores I did was to reorganize my bookshelves. I don't place a book on the shelf until I've read it. I also tend to wait until I have several books to shelve. I did this yesterday. As part of the process, I reviewed my paperback collection and decided to get rid of some I knew I wouldn't want to reread. I don't have more space for bookshelves in my office, so sometimes it's necessary to get rid of books, especially since I was almost out of room. Now I have about three-fourths of a small shelf free. I also went through Alex's old books and got rid of the ones he'd outgrown. (It was a little sad getting rid of all the Sandra Boynton (sp?) books, but I did save my favorite one.) When Eugene came home, he was inspired to sort through his collection and choose a few to sell. All told, we wound up with about four small boxes of books.
Anyone care to guess how much we got for them at Half Price Books? Do you hold on to your books or pass them on when you're done with them?
Friday, December 23, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Anyway, I wasn't planning to post much this week, but I've found a few sites that will help indie authors promote their work and wanted to share the links with you.
Women's Literary Cafe--A place where readers and authors unite. They help spread the word about indie books through Twitter at @IndieKindle and @WoMensLitCafe. They also have newsletters, author spotlights, and much more.
Indie Book Collective--Another place with resources for indie authors, including workshops, blog tours, and other promotional activities.
1500 Authors--A site where indie authors with books available on Amazon and B&N can list their work. Works are organized by genre.
No matter if you're a reader or a writer, I hope you find these links helpful.
Friday, December 16, 2011
"Feels like deja vu...."
Welcome to the Deja Vu Blogfest! If you're new to this site, welcome! I'm Sandra, an indie SF/Fantasy writer. Please look around the blog to learn more about me and my SF novella, Lyon's Legacy. I can't resist a plug: my novella is on sale this month for $0.99 at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.
Anyway, below is one of my favorite blog posts. It's part of the blog chain I belong to, and it was originally posted in March 2010.
Back on the Blog Chain: Holding out for a Hero(ine)
Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?
(For discussion purposes, let's use his definition of "larger-than-life" as meaning exceptionally talented. It doesn't have to be a supernatural talent--an Olympic athlete would be larger-than-life.)
In his book Characters and Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card discusses how these two types of characters go in and out of fashion. Most of my esteemed fellow Blog Chainers, from Eric to Kate, have been on the side of the average Joe or Jane. I think some of this is due to genre. A few people admit their characters have a slight supernatural twist, but for the most part, larger-than-life characters are considered too perfect, too hard to relate to, or even too cliched. We're at the end of the chain now, and there's only one person left to champion the champions: a short, overweight, almost-middle-aged speculative fiction writer. In other words, me.
Let's cue some music for our discussion:
Most of my protagonists have had some extraordinary gift. My first two books featured magicians, as does my short story "A Reptile at the Reunion." My NaNoWriMo book from 2007 had a pair of shapeshifting sisters. Paul, the hero of Across Two Universes, lives in a science fiction universe, but he has a "quantum quirk" of his own. The only protagonist who might be considered an "ordinary Jane" is Paul's mother, Joanna, in my novella "Move Over Ms. L." So, how do I avoid the previously mentioned pitfalls of larger-than-life characters?
First of all, I don't think a larger-than-life character is necessarily perfect--or should be. Many legendary characters had flaws as big as their virtues. Hercules was very strong, but he wasn't above using dirty tricks in battle. Lancelot was in love with his liege's wife. Modern-day larger-than-life athletes like Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods have shown what I'll call lapses of judgment. Even my beloved Beatles have done drugs, had affairs, made poor business decisions, and otherwise proved they're not perfect. Having an extraordinary talent doesn't mean you're invincible either; just look at Achilles and Samson. I could go on, but the point I want to make is that the larger-than-life characters may be good at what they do, but if they're too good, then the story loses any suspense factor. Struggle is at the heart of all stories, so your characters have to face challenges that force them to stretch themselves. Heck, much of the time my characters struggle just to get along with their allies!
Another concern writers have about writing larger-than-life characters is how to make sure the average reader can relate to them. It's not as if most of us turn into animals every full moon or perform magic and read others' minds. Here, I think the key is to focus on emotions or experiences that can be universal. Many larger-than-life characters in speculative fiction face problems readers can relate to; for example, Carrie Vaughn's werewolf Kitty has a mother dealing with cancer. A classic Star Trek episode, "The Devil in the Dark," features an alien that's basically a sentient rock. Yet this creature is also a mother trying to protect her young. How can any parent not relate to that? If you can relate to a rock, magicians and other larger-than-life characters ought to be easy.
As for whether or not larger-than-life characters are cliche, I think anything can become one. It's not always easy to find a unique spin on a subject, but it can be done.
Going back to Eric's question, why do I prefer larger-than-life characters? Part of the reason is escapism and wish fulfillment. I live in Midwestern suburbia, and I like taking mental breaks from it with my fiction. Having high-powered characters means you can demand more of them; they buy you a seat at the high-stakes plot table. But there are other reasons for enjoying larger-than-life characters and speculative fiction. By looking at the extremes of the human condition (or even examining non-humans), we can learn something about the ordinary parts too. And while ordinary characters in extraordinary situations can do astonishing things, extraordinary people can inspire us to transcend the commonplace and reach for something we never thought possible. Our future depends on how far we can see and our drive to try new things. If we work at it, what was once considered extreme or even impossible can become part of our mundane reality.
I hope you enjoyed that blast from the past! I expect to be busy at work today, so it may take me a few days to visit all the participants in this blog fest. I'm also going to cut back my blogging schedule during the holidays. At this point, I'm not sure how often I'll post. Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and see you soon!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I held back on scheduling a Ten-Word Tuesday because I wanted to tie it into the Higgs Boson announcement. (Which was nothing more than a big fat Maybe.) Then at work, since someone else goofed, I got handed a Mission: Impossible task to be completed by Friday. I was already busier than normal with training and validation tasks; this just felt over-the-top. However, I have to admit that if my life was a novel, this would have been a good twist to put on a character in an already tough situation.
I did make some progress yesterday in rescheduling other projects, and I also found out that some other people in my department will take over Mission: Impossible if I don't get it done by Friday. The company president knows I'm scheduled for vacation the next two weeks, so it's not like I have to give it up. So that's good.
Anyway, for discussion purposes, have you ever felt like a character in a story? What were the circumstances? What would you have said to your author?
Although tomorrow is Friday, I'm participating in the Deja Vu blogfest, so I won't be running Science of the Week. Tune in tomorrow to see which blog post I choose to rerun!
Monday, December 12, 2011
This year I've been a very good writer. I've worked hard on my projects, I've critiqued others and kept up with my blog, and I even wrote (and finished) two short pieces I hadn't planned on when I was thinking about my writing goals for the year. Here's what I'd love to receive in my writing stocking:
1. More time to write!
2. More time to pre-plan my scenes so I make better use of my writing time.
3. More sales and good reviews for Lyon's Legacy.
4. A sale to the anthology I wrote that short story for.
We have plenty of cookies, so after you're done fulfilling my son's wish list, don't forget the person who did the baking. Stay warm!
P.S. So, what's on your "writer wish list" this year?
Friday, December 09, 2011
Beating superbugs with a high-tech cleanser
New synthetic e. coli strains are the Swiss army knife for biofuel production
Sorry, that's it. Then again, I think after yesterday's post about entangled diamonds, we need something light as we head into the weekend. Have a good one!
Thursday, December 08, 2011
According to this article on CNN, scientists have succeeded in entangling two diamonds...or have they?
If you'll pardon me using Wikipedia as a source, quantum entanglement occurs when two particles interact, sync up in at least one quantum state (like spin or polarization), and then separate. Their quantum states are still linked, so if you interact with one particle, the other one changes its quantum state instantaneously, no matter how far apart they are.
In the CNN article, which is based off a paper in Science, two diamonds were placed about six inches apart, and then photons were shot through a beam splitter. Some of these photons managed to go in two directions at once (which I think has something to do with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which limits how well you can know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same time). These photons caused vibrations in both diamonds at once. When the beams are recombined after they leave the diamonds, the head scientist describes it as "We know that one diamond is vibrating, but we don't know which one....In fact, the universe doesn't know which diamond is vibrating – the diamonds are entangled, with one vibration shared between them, even though they are separated in space."
I'm no quantum physicist (I just read popular books about it when I was younger), but to me, this doesn't sound like quantum entanglement. Are the diamonds still linked after the experiment ends? Does changing one diamond affect the other one, even if they're not touching? Perhaps the scientists understand this better than I do. It does seem to be linked to Bell's Theorem, but I'm not going to attempt to discuss that!
What does this experiment mean for science fiction writers? It does show that quantum effects carry over into the macroscopic world. (When I was learning about the uncertainty principle at school, we always used to say that an object like a chair does have uncertainty, but it's extremely small.) This could have implications for quantum computers and possibly speed up communication. The CNN article ends with the scientists pointing out, "This particular research project does not have any immediate technological applications. It's just really fascinating, and really confusing, at the same time." But if experiments like this one change the way we understand the universe, that's also fodder for speculative fiction.
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to tie into my next post (about entangled diamonds)
I'm dedicating "Power to the People" to all the indie writers out there.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
For me, I've read all types of science fiction, but since I studied molecular biology in undergrad, I find myself most interested in biological science fiction, whether that means altering our own bodies or dealing with "strange new life forms." Please feel free to share your preferences in the comments below. Do you have a background in your favorite science, or do you enjoy learning about something new? Do you feel one type of science lends itself to fiction better than others?
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Monday, December 05, 2011
Sunday, December 04, 2011
What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?
Amparo comes before me, and Matt is next.
As a working mom, I can't wait for the perfect conditions; otherwise, I'd never have a chance to write. I have to be flexible. For example, here are some places where I've written recently:
1. At work (on my lunch hour), on my laptop
2. At home, after Alex falls asleep (usually later than he should), with my laptop on my desk and Pandora playing over the headphones
3. At the bookstore, on my laptop
4. In the hall of the park district building where Alex takes dance class, on my laptop
5. At a relative's house, watching Alex play with trains while I write on a printout of my story
As you can see, I find having a laptop vital for most of my writing, but I can write on paper in a pinch. I can generally tune out my environment, but TV is too distracting for me.
What about you? Do you have a favorite place to work, or do you work in multiple locations?
Friday, December 02, 2011
Fake leaf could usher era of "fast-food energy"
3-D Printer makes bone-like material
Microscopic worms could be key to living on Mars
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Short stories seem to require tighter pacing and word count than novels do. I know at one point beginning writers were urged to try short stories before gearing up for a novel, but these days, it seems more common for writer to go straight to novel length. Perhaps this depends on the market for short stories in the writer's genre of choice.
Do you write (or have you written) short stories? If so, were they just for writing practice, or did you send them out? Did you try a different writing technique from what you normally use for a novel?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Also, if you'd like my autograph (or at least the right-handed version of it), I'm now signed up with Kindlegraph. You can request a personalized inscription and signature for your e-book copy here. You don't need a Kindle to get this; you can get the signature as part of a PDF file. (You don't even need an e-book, as signatures are kept separate from the book itself.)
If you're an author, you might want to sign up with this service. It's free, and it's another way to connect with readers. Here's the link to the sign-up page. You'll need to enter the book's Amazon Standard Identification Number, which you can find on the book's Amazon page.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
1. A special feature about 10 World-Changing Ideas (including microbe miners, digital currency, year-round crop plants) and a computer model under development that would contain enough data to predict the future.
2. New plans for getting to the asteroids and Mars.
3. Ways in which cities are adapting to climate change.
4. Epigenetics and the mind. (Epigenetics deals with molecular markers on DNA that affect how it's regulated.)
What did you do over the weekend? Do any of these articles interest you?
Friday, November 25, 2011
Spanish computer can read your emotional state
System for assessing the odds of life on other worlds
New projection shows global food demand doubling by 2050
The caffeinated truth about water pollution
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Anne McCaffrey was one of the first authors I got into when I became a science fiction/fantasy reader. I have twenty-five books of hers in my collection. Naturally, many of these are in the Pern series, but I also especially enjoyed The Rowan and its sequels.
What's your favorite Anne McCaffrey book?
P.S. I'm taking tomorrow off, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I'll be back on Friday with my usual science links.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Please tell us about yourself.
The basics: I was born and raised in New Jersey, spending my formative years with a book in my hand (or sneaked under the desk during math class). I tried my hand at writing romance novels in the ‘80s, took a twenty-year detour through the business world, and finally escaped to Alaska and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. I now live near Portland, OR, and am a freelance writer and editor. My other esoteric skills include astrology, tarot card reading, and the ability to do a perfect split.
Some things I love: Caramels, Muppets, office supply stores, Nathan Fillion, fudge, Stargate SG-1, sappy love songs, snarky humor, fountain pens, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, crystals, my Jeep, down comforters, my fabulous hundred-acre couch, Winnie the Pooh, flamingoes, and comfy clothes.How did you get into writing and editing? Which came first? Which do you prefer?
Writing came before editing—the editing part was kind of accidental. I always like to know how things work, so when I started writing seriously, I read a lot of writing books and studied other people’s writing to figure out how stories are put together. Later on I joined a critique group. I learned an amazing amount from analyzing other writers’ works-in-progress and pondering not just what wasn’t working, but why it wasn’t working and how the problems could be fixed. I found I enjoyed that and had a talent for it, and people started asking me specifically to help them with their work. Eventually that led to getting paid.
I love writing and wish I could spend more time on it each day, but it’s also very satisfying helping other writers achieve their dreams. If I had to pick one or the other, though, it would be writing.How did you get into freelance editing? What are the pros and cons of being a freelancer?
After I finished my Creative Writing MFA in 2008, I hoped to ease into full-time editing by getting an office job and freelancing part-time. But the economy crashed the second I hit Portland and there were no office jobs to be found, so I was thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool as far as freelancing was concerned. Looking back, I’m glad it happened that way, because otherwise I don’t know if I would’ve taken the plunge.
Pros: setting my own schedule, working at home in my pajamas, setting up my business and my services in a way that fits my goals and personality. Plus I get paid for reading some really awesome books!
Cons: uneven income, no holiday or vacation pay, having to provide my own medical insurance and other benefits, extra self-employment taxes, dealing tactfully with the occasional writer who doesn’t want to accept how much work their project needs.
Could you please explain the difference between developmental editing and copyediting? Do you find one type of editing easier or more enjoyable?
Developmental editing has to do with the craft of fiction writing—the way the story is told. Plot, story structure, character development, point of view, narrative tension, dialogue, setting, scene structure, tone—all the “big picture” issues.
Grammar, spelling, typos, word usage, and similar language issues are copyediting issues. If copyediting also includes correcting paragraph and sentence structure, clarity and flow of ideas, it’s usually called line editing.
There’s some overlap between these definitions, depending on the editor, and some editors will also address language issues in a developmental edit, but I normally don’t. Usually after a developmental edit scenes will have to be added, cut, or totally revised, in which case any line editing/copyediting has to be done all over again. Which means the client will have wasted their money having me do it the first time, and I don’t want that.
Copyediting is easier, but developmental editing is more fun.
What is Aladdin’s Samovar about?
It’s about a woman named Amber Polaski who buys an antique brass samovar that turns out to have a (very sexy) genie in it. She makes a wish to find her long-lost father, only to find that he’s on the run from the Mafia. People get shot at, shrink wrapped, and pounced on by a pack of Happy Puppies—and Amber is forced to defend herself against Mafia assassins with common household appliances. Plus, Jasper the genie turns out to be nothing but trouble—in more ways than one!How did you get the inspiration for Aladdin’s Samovar?
When I was getting my Master’s degree in creative writing, I started a short story about Amber finding the genie in her samovar. (I wish I could remember what possessed me to put a genie in a samovar instead of the usual lamp, but I don’t.) I never finished the story, because in that version she had only one wish, and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted most.
I put the story aside and didn’t get back to it until three years later. At one point after writing the first version, I’d had a conversation with a classmate who said that since Amber had never met her father, her wish would be to meet him. (That was a head-smack moment for me; those things always seem so obvious once someone has pointed them out to you.)
Once I reread the story with that in mind, I wondered what would happen if Amber found her father, but he wasn’t what she expected—if he were, say, on the run from the Mob. I immediately realized that could be the jumping-off point for a novel—or even a series. And Aladdin’s Samovar was born.
Did you edit your own book, or did you hire another editor to look it over? What factors influenced your choice?
I have beta readers who help me pick up any inconsistencies in my work (and let me know if it’s really as funny as I like to think it is). But other than that, I’m my own editor—I’m a nitpicky perfectionist, so I’m usually more critical of my work than anyone else is.
I also have writing colleagues that I turn to when I’m stuck on a solution to a writing problem, who are kind enough to brainstorm with me and let me bounce ideas off them.Who are your favorite authors and why do you admire them?
Hmm—so many writers; so little time… I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, because her characters feel so real, and I always finish her books convinced that I know what it’s like to live in the 1700s. She also raises a lot of interesting questions about the way we look at issues like violence, gender, war, honor, marriage and religion, by voicing various points of view from people who lived in completely different circumstances than we do.
I also love Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series—about a sixty-year-old widow from New Brunswick, New Jersey who becomes a CIA operative. Some of the books are kind of dated now, but the character is so much fun!
And a non-novelist—I’m a blatant worshiper of Joss Whedon, the TV/film writer who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. He’s so deliberate (yet brilliant) in his storytelling—everything is planned out and he knows exactly where he’s going with the long-term story arcs in his shows. I also love his originality—he knows every potential cliché in the business and manages to throw a fresh, surprising twist on each one.
Are you planning to write other books?
I’m already working on the second book in the Amber and Jasper series. One of the characters from the first book, Iggy the homeless dwarf, was formerly a carnival performer. He drags Amber (and the genie) off to help him rescue a friend from his carnie days. There’s a murdered clown, buried treasure, a midget cowboy show, and a very scary ventriloquist’s dummy. Plus some unexpected romance, and hopefully a lot of laughs!
What do you like to do to relax?
One of my favorite things to do is kick back on my aforementioned couch with a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a good novel (or a stocked-up Kindle!). When I’m on vacation, I can easily go through a book a day. I also ice skate—I take figure skating lessons and once in a while I do a competition—jumps, spins, spangly dress and all. And I love to sing Karaoke—mostly cheesy country songs.
What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?
I look like a little suburban cream puff, but inside I really want to be Xena the warrior princess, wear studded black leather and kick butt.If you had three wishes, what would you wish for (besides more wishes)?
Jasper the genie is already smirking! (When he grants a wish, it rarely turns out the way you thought it would. He’s a trickstery kind of genie…)
Let’s see. I think I’d like a superpower—the ability to fly. Flying dreams are so cool…the reality would be amazing. My second wish would be that Dulce de Leche ice cream would no longer have calories (and no, Jasper, the no-cal version has to taste the same, or there’s no point). I guess my third wish would be that my Amber and Jasper books go viral and become runaway bestsellers. Either that, or that Michael Trucco would give up his acting career, throw himself at my feet, and become my Boy Toy. (Kidding!)
Or we could go with world peace, ending hunger, and cleaning up the Texas-sized island of plastic garbage in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
Aladdin's Samovar is available on Kindle for $2.99.
If you'd like to contact Lauren, please e-mail her at writerservicesATlauren-sweetDOTcom
Sunday, November 20, 2011
This is the month in creating writing goals and making big accomplishments. What is your greatest accomplishment -- in writing, your life or perhaps something incidental that had a big effect on you?
Amparo posted before me, and Matt will post tomorrow.
I think I would have to say my biggest accomplishment is my relationship with my husband, Eugene. We met over twenty-one years ago. We dated for fifteen years before we got married, and much of that time we were long-distance. If we can go that long and endure so many changes, I'd like to think we can make it through the rest of our lives together. Love you, hon!
Friday, November 18, 2011
Genetic variation plays role in kindness
Smart swarms of bacteria inspire robotics researchers
Bats change ear shapes, making their hearing more flexible
Researchers reveal potential treatment for sickle cell disease
Prairie soil may provide answers to countering climate change
Mimicking the brain, in silicon
That's it for now. Enjoy your weekend. I'll be posting on Sunday for the blog chain, so stop on by if you're online.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
It's funny that when we write books, no matter how exciting the story is, there always seems to be that middle sloggy section that's hard to write. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and plow through it. At least it's a lot easier to edit a story after it's done than trying to change a finshed crochet project!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
As a scientist, I'd love to find out what makes a she-male a she-male. Is it mostly genetics, mostly environmental, or a mixture of both interacting? The percentages of she-males varies, but there's a group of hawks in France with 40% of the males looking like females. Why is that so high?
Whether or not you want to draw any parallels to human behavior, this does sound like an interesting trait to include in an alien race.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
“The New World of Publishing: 95% of All Authors Will Never Indie Publish.” He admits this number is a guess, but he raises some good points about the thoughts that go through writers' heads, discouraging them from either trying to indie publish or to stop after putting out just a couple of books. No matter how you feel about traditional or indie publishing, I think it's worth a read. At the very least, it's worth knowing you're not the only author out there with negative thoughts in your head. ;)
Have you ever suffered from a second-book stall, where after completing the first project, you struggle to start, finish, or submit/publish your next project? How did you get out of that?
Friday, November 11, 2011
Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut,
the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written and performed by the author herself, for free!
All you have to do is
purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and
then email the receipt to:
then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!
To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.
not familiar with
check out the book trailer:
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page,
yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of
heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as
with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with
difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout,
seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that
allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world
begins to unravel … String Bridge is
a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a
hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
Thrust and Sleep Before Evening
of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult
scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds
barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop
character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her
next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones
Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds
String Bridge: http://www.stringbridge.com/
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Carbon Monoxide Relaxes City Dwellers
How We Experience Fantasy Determines How Much We Enjoy It
Fatherhood Can Help Change a Man's Bad Habits
High-Tech Spider for Hazardous Missions
How Arctic Microbes Respond to a Warming World
Scientists Find Evidence of Roman Era Megadrought
I hope you enjoy them!
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
It looks interesting, but it seems like it might be more useful for plotters instead of pansters like me. (I admit I'm a bit stuck with Scattered Seasons at the moment, so I spent the evening outlining what I've written so far to figure out where to go next. Maybe I'm only a semi-panster, which sounds even odder.) On the other hand, it looks like there's much more to Scrivener than a virtual corkboard.
So, does anyone out there have previous experience with Scrivener? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it to others?
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
What's your favorite monster?
Several other people have mentioned cute or cartoon monsters, so I don't feel quite so embarrassed revealing my favorite monster. Perhaps I should be, seeing he comes from a 70s Saturday morning cartoon show that I liked a lot as a kid (and I doubt it was for the science). Who is he, you ask? Look no further:
After all, who wouldn't want a fire-breathing sea monster on their side? Of course, that does mean you have to put up with Godzuki...
Strangely enough, I've never seen the Godzilla movies. I should do that in my numerous microseconds of free time.
I'm the last one in this blog chain, so you can either start from the beginning with Matt or work your way backward with Amparo.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Technology makes storing radioactive waste safer
World's most powerful laser could "tear apart the vacuum of space"
(I found this article linked here. Wouldn't it be cool if scientists could prove the existence of other dimensions?)
"Vampire" Bacteria has potential as living antibiotic
(Humm, coincidence that this article was released the day after Halloween? I think not.)
Do bacteria age?
Communication in the depths--perhaps not as primitive as we would like to think
And I can't ignore this one from CNN:
It's not "Star Trek," but NASA wants a tractor beam
I do have something to celebrate--Lyon's Legacy is finally part of Smashwords' Premium Catalog. I had to redo the formatting a couple of times before it passed the AutoVetter. Hopefully it will be easier with my next project.
Do you have anything to celebrate this weekend?
Thursday, November 03, 2011
OK, all you NaNo writers, time to get back to writing!
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
If you routinely juggle multiple projects, how do you balance them? And how much writing can a working parent accomplish on any given day?
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Thanks so much for your review and interviews, Michelle! Please contact me so I can have that gift basket shipped to you.
Also, Briane Pagel just posted his own review of Lyon's Legacy on his website, plus I have the honor of being the first author to answer his "10 1/2 Questions." You can check both of them out here. Thanks, Briane!
OK, back to the laptop for a couple more minutes....
Monday, October 31, 2011
I got a nice treat over the weekend; Michelle McLean reviewed Lyon's Legacy over at Operation Awesome. She said, "This book just had a little bit of everything; science, time travel, romance, major character growth, a bad guy you want to smack upside the head, heartache, and hope."She also interviewed me on her blog and on Pots 'n Pens. Thanks so much, Michelle!
I happen to live not too far from Sleepy Hollow, Illinois. Friends who live there invited us to join them at the town's festivities this weekend. There was a costume contest, hay rides, and a chili contest. The main attraction was twofold. The first part of it was a huge bonfire lit shortly after sunset. Although the day was sunny, it quickly got cold in the evening, so I was grateful our friends had reserved a spot as close to the bonfire as we were allowed to go. The second attraction was an appearance by the Headless Horseman about an hour after the bonfire was lit. (I found out later he was actually a she.) He rode in on a horse, carrying a jack '0 lantern by his side. He passed back and forth in front of us a few times, then rode slowly along the barrier so kids could pet the horse before disappearing back into the night. Thankfully, the experience wasn't too scary for a four-year-old.
Here are some pictures my husband took of the bonfire and the Headless Horseman:
Enjoy your holiday, and beware of strange horse riders!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Scientists create computing building blocks from bacteria and DNA
Your DNA may carry a "memory" of your living conditions in childhood
Rare model animal for studying depression
More time outdoors may help Johnny see
Paper-based wireless sensor could help detect explosive devices
Researchers build transparent, stretchy, skin-like sensor
New technology helps spinal disc regeneration
Scientist Cracks Mysterious Copiale Cipher
Among interesting articles in the November 2011 issue of Scientific American is one about an experiment to test whether microbes can survive a trip from Earth to Mars and back. If they can, then perhaps a long time ago, Mars could have seeded Earth with life. Check out the issue if you can.
Have a good weekend, and see you on Halloween!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Time to work on some cheers...."Write, write, write all night! Sixteen sixty-seven will do it right!"
Um, maybe I should just stick to SF and fantasy....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I hope everyone enjoyed the fair yesterday! I added some books to my "To Read" collection; I hope you did too.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
M. A. Leslie is sponsoring an Internet Book Fair Blogfest today. It's a chance where authors get to promote their works and readers get to discover new books and authors. If you're coming here for the book fair, welcome! If not, please check out the link and browse the selections. There are a lot of authors participating, so you should be able to find something of interest.
My contribution to this book fair is Lyon's Legacy, a science fiction novella featuring Joanna Lyon, great-granddaughter of the legendary TwenCen musician Sean Lyon. Joanna may have inherited some of her ancestor's musical talent, but her parents' bitter divorce and her Uncle Jack's attempts to remake her into another Sean have left her hostile toward her family and music. Her passion is for science, but since she has no access to the family funds, she struggles to earn enough credits for graduate school. Then her uncle sets up a business deal with her employer to make Joanna go on a mission for him: travel via the spaceship Sagan to an alternate TwenCen universe where Sean is still alive. Joanna must collect a DNA sample from Sean so her uncle can create a clone of him. She refuses at first, but finally agrees to go. Secretly, however, Joanna believes her uncle will exploit the clone, and she plans to sabotage the project to stop him. But when she falls in love with one of the scientists in the Sagan's genetics lab, clashes with other time travelers who fear she'll change how history develops on the alternative TwenCen Earth, and receives devastating personal news, Joanna will find herself pushed to her limit even before she comes face-to-face with her hated ancestor. Their encounter will leave her changed forever. Will she still be able to thwart her uncle's plan, and what will she have to sacrifice to do so?
This story is available as an e-book for $2.99 at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. It's the first book of the Catalyst Chronicles series. The second book, Twinned Universes, will be ready early 2012.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy the story!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Banished from Heaven for refusing to harvest an unwilling soul, Liam Chase drinks to forget night after night until the Angel of Death pays him a visit. For the price of a few humans souls, Ziva promises to get him reinstated into Heaven. Liam doesn’t doubt her influence, but milking humans of their light is an unspeakable crime, punishable by eternal oblivion. He’d rather rot on Earth than commit such a monstrous sin. But the Angel of Death didn’t get where she was by taking no for an answer. Ziva is a huntress of extraordinary skill and cruelty. If he refuses, his loved ones will be her next targets. And Ziva never misses. Ziva has already set her sights on Shannon, the soul he once refused to harvest, and his beloved servant, Evie. He’ll do anything to keep them safe, even if it means his death. But something goes wrong just as he concedes, and the chain of souls picks a new mistress before he has a chance to deliver. Brought for trial before the most feared angel in Heaven and Hell, Liam discovers he has failed to protect his loved ones and now they too could share his fate.
You can purchase it for $2.99 at B&N, Smashwords, and Amazon. It is an e-book.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Here are some articles from Science Blogs that I found interesting this week:
Dark Matter Mystery Deepens (It doesn't behave as predicted)
Psychopaths' word choices
Self-Replication Could Lead to New Materials
Gratitude as an antidote to aggression
Record-Breaking Photo Reveals a Planet-Sized Object as Cool as the Earth
Tech turns iPhone into SpyPhone
Superhard, amoprhous diamond created
That's it for this week. Enjoy your weekend, and see you Monday!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
1. I finally borrowed my first e-book from the library today. (If you're curious, it was Juliet Immortal.) I've been stalking the library website for the past few days since I knew I was next on the hold list. The process was much easier than I expected it to be. I followed the link in the e-mail notification to the website, signed in, and checked out the title with a few clicks. I did have to download it to my Kindle afterwards, but that was just another couple of clicks. I had thought I'd have to go through Overdrive (a special program for borrowing media like this) or download the book first to my computer and then transfer it to my Kindle via cable. Instead the book downloaded wirelessly to my Kindle. Gotta love that! While I was there, I browsed through more books and placed holds on a couple more. I think it will be a balancing act to figure out how many books to place on hold in order to get a steady but not overwhelming stream of them.
2. If you read Writer Beware, you may have seen this guest post today about an author who has been attempting to get her book back from her publisher since, according to her, the book is no longer "in print through regular trade channels." What exactly does that mean? She contends the book is no longer physically available in book stores and is only available in the publisher's warehouse. Robert J. Sawyer responded on his blog saying he found the book available through some Canadian bookstores and in on Amazon.ca. (I tried looking for this book tonight on the U.S. Amazon website and saw it was listed as being "temporarily out of stock.") Does this author have a case? I am nowhere near qualified to rule on that, but I think the wording in this contract is subject to interpretation. This case is a reminder to all of us that in any contract, the wording should be as clear and specific as possible; if you're not sure about something in it, you have the power to negotiate before you sign the contract, not afterward.