Friday, December 18, 2015

Science of the Week, 12/18/15

At long last, The Force Awakens! My family and I were supposed to see the movie last night, but since my son had his tae-kwon-do test then, we had to reschedule. Luckily we were able to get tickets for this evening. No spoilers, please!

Anyway, here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

Helping others dampens the effects of everyday stress

New microscope create near-real-time videos of nanoscale process

U mad bro? Computers now know when you're angry

New results from world's most sensitive dark matter detector

Humans evolved to get better sleep in less time
(This doesn't explain my insomnia, though)

Fish oil helps transform fat cells from storage to burning

I'm not sure yet how much blogging I'll do over the holidays. While I have the next two weeks off, I expect to spend most of my time taking care of household chores and my son, seeing family, and writing/editing. I need to plan some down time for myself too. Whatever you have planned for the rest of the month, enjoy it!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Age and Creativity

Despite my busy schedule over the weekend, I managed to read Susan Kaye Quinn's The Legacy Human, first part of the Singularity series. It's about a teenage boy who's an artist, and he has to compete against other teenage artists for the chance to win immortality not just for himself, but for his dying mother. It's a good book,fast-paced and thought-provoking, and it's the current front-runner for my Hugo nomination. However, one of the issue it makes me think about might not be what Quinn had in mind.

In her world, teens compete to ascend (be transferred to an augmented state) because they're most likely to survive the process. Given that the youths apparently don't have to work or go to school (which could explain some of the problems in their society), it's plausible that they could practice enough to master their art. But what kind of life experiences or perspectives can one accumulate in less than two decades? Is this system fair to the late bloomers--assuming that the losers or those not picked for the competition would bother continuing their art with no hope of the big reward? Even a prodigy like Mozart benefited from maturity. Perhaps as a middle-aged writer, I'd rather read about characters closer to my age, ones more likely to inspire me, than ones I'm now old enough to parent. There are certainly real-life examples of people being creative at every stage of life, from Mozart to Grandma Moses.

Do you feel age makes a difference in creativity? Do you think it's harder to have a creative mind as one gets older? Alternatively, how does one preserve a creative mindset as one gets older. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Science of the Week, 12/11/15

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

First worldwide survey of religion and science: No, not all scientists are atheists

Rudeness at work is contagious

Study undercuts idea that "Medieval Warm Period" was global

I'm afraid that's it for this week. This weekend is going to be very busy for me. My family is making two appearances to support Toys for Tots, we're going to a Science Night at our local museum, my son has a chess tournament tomorrow, and we're taking a special train ride with Santa on Sunday. I really hope things slow down a bit, or at least give me time to write. Hope your weekend isn't too hectic!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Deathbushes and Mixups

Books Three and Four of the Season Avatars series each feature a different Avatar as the main character. Book Three, Chaos Season, stars Jenna, the Avatar of Summer, as the viewpoint character, while in Book Four, Fifth Season,the viewpoint shifts to Ysabel, Avatar of Fall. Jenna's magic centers on plants, while Ysabel's magic revolves around animals. Perhaps it's not surprising both of them will face a unique plant or animal unlike anything they've encountered before. The difficult part is choosing what names to give these new species.

My current name for the plant Jenna must deal with is "deathbush." It grows very quickly, thrives in conditions that would kill other plants, and has poisonous thorns. It's not based on a single real plant (though they smell like thyme) but was inspired by a combination of undesirable traits.

Ysabel names the creatures she finds "mixups," since they're a mixture of reptile and bird. I based it on troodons, the dinosaur with the greatest brain-body ratio and therefore supposedly the most intelligent. Since this is a fantasy world, I may modify them a little to make them bigger and more intimidating, or possibly give them other features too.

As readers, what do you think of these names? I like the idea of using compound words, since they are descriptive. While "deathbush" doesn't sound too bad to me, I wonder if "mixup" downplays the threat factor of the animals. Since both of these book are still in the first draft/revision phase, I can alter the names without affecting the other books in the series. Please let me know if you think I should keep or change these names. If you have ideas for new names, feel free to suggest them. If I pick a name you suggested, you'll be mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of the appropriate book.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

IWSG: With a Little Help from the Beatles

It's time again for the monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. 

This time of year can be a sad one for Beatles fans. November 29 is the anniversary of George Harrison's death, and of course the anniversary of John Lennon's murder is coming up next week on December 8th. There's only one way to cope with the loss of these fine musicians, and that's to play their music. Every December, I treat myself to a Beatles marathon by playing all of their original albums in chronological order. That's not counting solo albums (it may be hard to believe, but I don't own all of them), bootlegs, or collections. It is a definite pick-me-up, and it makes me feel happier and more inspired. Every year I wonder why I don't do it more often.

As writers, we may become obsessed over word counts and goals. We may have other responsibilities on top of writing, duties that can drain us and disconnect us from our muses. It's important to remember to treat yourself to good things too so your creative well keeps flowing. For me, it's Beatles music. What feeds your muse? Please share in the comments.

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