Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 19-25, 2014

Thoughty Thursday is all over the map this week. It’s just the kind of week we had, here in Canada.

This was the big news in Canada last week: The lone gunman who attacked Parliament Hill. CBC News.

Mother Jones on how we did with the reporting of the incident.

Our heroes:

Nathan Cirillo The Toronto Star

Patrice Vincent CBC

Kevin Vickers CBC


 

You are your own damned permission slip. This post is one of the reasons I love Justine Musk. You go girl. Hell, I go, too!

I don’t even . . . Why are people making such a fuss about Renee Zellweger’s new look? Plastic surgery shaming? WTF?

Your brain on dreams, with Michio Kaku. I love this dude. Big Think.

End the stigma surrounding mental illness.

 

The Business Insider posts 20 tips for sitting at your desk without hurting your back. I had an ergonomic assessment at work a few weeks ago and the video aligns perfectly with what I was told.

Fibromyalgia isn’t “all in the head.” The Liberty Voice.

The Cryptik Movement speaks about the consciousness of trees. This is really something.

I’m not afraid of spiders, but the Goliath bird-eating spider makes me shudder. IFLS.

The tagline heading around with this next IFLS feature was, the Scottish invented sex! A Scottish fish, that is 🙂

The strange beauty of the deep ocean. IFLS.

Are we getting closer to a green energy breakthrough? IFLS.

A working hover board? Back to the future! IFLS.

The real cyborgs: where wearable technology is taking us. The Telegraph.

Lindsey Stirling does a steampunk western video for Roundtable Rival.

 

Sadness, now. Photographer says goodbye to her beloved pooch after sixteen years.

See you Saturday with more WWC 2014 reportage (I hope).

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 19-25, 2014

There is so much Writerly Goodness this week, I don’t know what to do with myself!

Martha Conway says, Forget heroes: Why heroines are important. Writer Unboxed.

Dave King on the wonders of Whedon. Everything I need to know about plot, I learned from Buffy. Writer Unboxed.

Dan Blank says it’s more about giving than receiving. Writer Unboxed.

Karina Sumner-Smith guests on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. Finding rhythm and voice for a beginning that sings.

How many characters do you need? Jami Gold answers reader questions.

Piper Bayard guests on Jenny Hanson’s blog, Cowbell. Little Darlings Anonymous. I need to be a member 😉

Piper stopped by Kristen’s Lamb’s blog, too, to talk about backstory.

Story concept and story premise. Do you know the difference? K.M. Weiland cites Larry Brooks in this post and podcast combo.

Veronica Sicoe finds a strategy for NaNoWriMo.

Blurb’s Coffee & Quill interview with NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty. There were some audio issues at the start, but there was also a lot of good information about NaNo and what you can do to prepare.

Moar podcasts from Roz Morris and Peter Snell for Surrey Hills Radio. So you want to be a writer? Check them all out!

Mary Robinette Kowal shares her outlines for Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass. I love it when the professionals give us a little peek at how it’s done 🙂

The comma story by Terisa Folaron. Ted.ed.

 

The Oxford comma debate. Ted.ed.

 

Helen Sword says, beware of nominalizations (zombie nouns). Ted.ed.

 

Marlee Neel states the case against good and bad. Ted.ed.

 

Sarah F. Hawkins, lawyer, posts about the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Roz Morris asks, Have we forgotten what science fiction should be?

Project Hieroglyph’s push for positive science fiction. Eoghan.com.

The Wall Street Journal has a book club and Margaret Atwood just chose Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea as the next read.

Tasneem Raja of Mother Jones interviews William Gibson.

The Sword & Laser interview with Delilah S. Dawson. Teh awesome.

 

An interview with Mary Stewart. Off the Page.

 

Jane Austen on men who refuse to hear no. The Atlantic.

J.K. Rowling pens a new Harry Potter story, just in time for Hallowe’en. Buzzfeed.

Sarah Michelle Gellar on how playing a strong female character spoiled her. Perth Now.

Matt Herron returns to the Write Practice to show how to create a setting sketch using Scrivener.

See you on Thoughty Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

Series discoveries, fall 2014

So I think I’ve seen all I want to of the new and returning series this fall and I’m ready to give my report.

I’m going to start with the earliest premieres and then progress by day of the week.

Please remember, these are my opinions only. Just because I’ve not been impressed doesn’t mean that the show is crap, nor does my approval carry with it any kind of magical power.

I just calls ‘em and I sees ‘em.

Saturday night – Doctor Who and Intruders

I was eagerly awaiting the new series and new Doctor, perhaps too much so. I’m sorry to say that I’m not enjoying Doctor Who this year.

Yes, I know, HERESY you shout, but let me ‘splain.

I get the thinking behind the whole gestalt. With a new set of regenerations, the writers are returning to the original Doctor for inspiration.

William Hartnell’s Doctor was clearly an alien. He was a bit imperious and his downfalls often resulted from his inability to relate to his human companions.

So I really tried to like the nod to the original. Unlike previous incarnations, including Hurt’s War Doctor, I haven’t been able to warm up to Twelve.

Maybe it’s that Nine’s “fantastic!” Ten’s “allons y!” Eleven’s “geronimo” and even the War Doctor’s “no more!” have been exchanged for Twelve’s “shut up, shut up, shut up (you stupid humans)!”

Perhaps it was his childish argument with Robin Hood about who would save the day, and Clara, while Clara went off and did it for them. Yay, Clara, but . . . really?

It could be all these hints of an overarching plot that aren’t going anywhere.

And maybe it’s the Doctor’s apparent cruelty in making Clara choose the fate of the moon/egg, and of humanity, Clara’s enraged, though justified, response, his inadequate apology, and her sudden 180, which not incidentally involves her becoming a big, fat liar to Danny. This is not going to end well.

BTW, I missed last night’s episode, so if any of these concerns have been addressed therein, I may yet recant.

So far, however, DW has been a bust for me. I hold out hope, but it’s a dwindling one.

Intruders turned me off in the first episode when, without context or explanation, a child drowned her cat rather than committing suicide as it appeared she was going to do. This was pure sensationalism for me and not even John Simm and Mira Sorvino could get me back after that.

Sunday night – Once Upon a Time and Outlander

OUaT continues to throw new Disney characters into increasingly bizarre situations. Now Will Scarlet (The Knave of OUaTiWonderland) has joined the cast as well as Anna and Elsa of Frozen. I keep wondering why Regina wants her ‘happily ever after’ when she sees in front of her that the happily ever afters that have occurred in Storybrook aren’t that happy.

Snow White is trying unsuccessfully to be mayor at the same time as she’s clinging desperately to her second child for fear of losing him (or otherwise screwing up colossally as she did with Emma). Emma, having lost everyone she’s loved so far in one way or another, can’t let herself be loved by Killian (Captain Hook) and Killian’s old piratical evil is surfacing ala Idol Hands. Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin), may be married, but he’s deceiving his wife and up to his old tricks. Even Robin Hood, though back with his wife, Marion, no longer loves her and his wife has been struck with a freezing curse.

All these happy endings are pretty miserable, but that’s what keeps me watching 🙂

I have loved the first half of Outlander so far. It’s been lush and evocative, and the acting has been excellent.

There have been some deviations from the novel, but they’ve been, in my opinion, well-chosen for the television adaptation, and necessary to tell the story in that form.

The only thing I’m unhappy with is having to wait until next year for the rest of the dear thing 😦

Monday night – Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Castle

Gotham’s okay, but since I know the eventual fate of the main characters, finding out how they got there hasn’t been enough of a hook to keep me watching. And the mob bosses? Meh.

Sleepy Hollow is still good, in my opinion. I like the supernatural retelling and the creative pulling in of various odd historical facts around some of the historical figures with whom Crane was acquainted. The writers of this show know how to torture their protagonists. They’ve clearly studied how to construct a story that holds interest. It is supposed to be about the apocalypse, you know 😉

I’m still hanging in with Castle. I was getting a little weary with it for a while. Kate’s getting a job with the FBI was clearly not a fan favourite and they killed that story line quickly and awkwardly. Since then, though plans for the wedding were progressing, Castle’s character hasn’t been. They went too far back to the days where Castle was a thorn, albeit an entertaining one, in Kate’s side.

With the new season and the new overarching mystery of where Castle was for two months, things have revived a bit, though I must say, I’m still waiting for Castle to develop a few skills. He’s only been assisting the police with investigations for, what, five, six years? His dad is a black ops specialist. I’m thinking something has to come of all this, and soon, or it might go the way of Bones in my books.

Tuesday night – The Flash, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Forever

The Flash isn’t promising for me. Characters seem to change their behaviour on a dime. Even if it’s for a good reason, it’s not realistic.

Yay for Canadian actors, though. It’s nice to see Tom Kavanaugh on the screen again.

MAoS is another series I’m hanging in with. Just when a mystery gets to the irritating point, or a character’s behaviour becomes too bizarre, the saving reveal happens.

I’m impressed with Forever. It’s a medical drama/police procedural like so many others out there, but the introduction of an immortal character and the quirkiness with which his particular affliction manifests is fascinating. His relationship with adopted child (now apparent father), Abe, is lovely, and the mystery behind the other immortal is compelling. Good job, so far.

Wednesday night – Arrow, Criminal Minds, Stalker, and Dominion

Arrow, like The Flash, is okay. I stick with it despite the soap opera like regularity with which the characters fall in and out of love (and with whom) and the bizarre family secrets the just seem to keep on popping up. I like the dual plotline that seems to carry Oliver Queen’s time on the island (and elsewhere) apace with current events in Starling City. That’s about it, though.

Criminal Minds is a kind of guilty pleasure for me. Even though I know profiling has not been proven to solve a case on its own, I just can’t help but tune in to find out what depraved psychopath the BAU is tackling this week. The addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt is an interesting choice as well, and I’m happy to keep watching for my favourite eye candy, Shemar Moore.

Stalker isn’t my favourite of the new season (that place has to go to Outlander), but I like Maggie Q’s damaged character. I’m not so fond of Dylan McDermott’s character, though. I don’t think it was a wise choice to make the man a stalker himself. Even though his concern is his son, I can’t help but think ‘sleazebag’ every time I see him trying to wriggle his way out of the tight corners he repeatedly gets himself into.

Plus, he’s really convincing as a sleazebag. His character is not meant to be sympathetic, and no matter how much he helps the stalker unit bag the other baddies, I think his character is not intended to be a series regular and that Maggie Q will put him away when the truth emerges.

We’ll see.

Dominion didn’t capture me at all. In the opening scene of the first episode, we see a lone man take on a whole bar full of fallen angels. He’s snuck out of his walled city without permission and battles one of the enemy all the way home, his driving a jeep and the fallen angel flying in to smash windows and nearly kill him.

Once he’s revealed to be the “chosen one,” lost his love to an arranged marriage, and the true strength of the enemy is understood, he becomes this uncertain sniveller. Even seeing Tony Head on screen again wasn’t enough to save the series for me. Then again, I was never enamoured of Merlin, either.

Thursday night – Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, Gracepoint, and How to Get Away with Murder

Bones has gone the way of the dodo for me. It was suffering too much from the same kind of character stagnation as Castle, but moreso.

It’s been on for nine slogging seasons and still, Temperance Brennan hasn’t learned the nuances of human behaviour, colloquialism, and though she started the series as a true kick-ass character with wicked martial arts skills, she’s taken a back seat, becoming the brilliant but alien squint/baby momma.

They keep on killing off characters or putting them through hell, but I can’t care anymore.

Grey’s Anatomy, post-Christina Yang, is still decent drama. Like, Criminal Minds, it continues to be a guilty pleasure of mine.

Gracepoint. I’m watching it, but really, I’m wondering the whole time why they just didn’t show Broadchurch instead. Why do North American producers feel compelled to recreate BBC shows for the NA audience? And David Tennant with an American accent . . . I’m sorry, but no.

How to get away with murder is interesting. It’s also a departure for creator Shonda Rhimes. We have another dual storyline, each being told from a different end of a single university semester. While the chronologically earlier storyline progresses at a galloping pace toward its already revealed climax (this was a savvy risk to take), the other storyline repeats the events of a single night, revealing new and intriguing details each time. All of this awesome storytelling is wrapped in the case of the week as Analise Keating puts her students to work for her law firm.

There’s all kinds of unethical going on here, but I don’t care one bit. Unlike Gotham, I need to find out the how of the what, what, what the hell?!??! that lends the series its name.

Friday night – Grimm, Constantine, and Z Nation

Grimm continues to hold my interest (surprise, surprise). Another creative re-imagining of how fairy tales might be “real.” It’s just started, so I don’t have a lot to say about this season yet.

Constantine is another DC comic brought to Network TV. So far, so good. Constantine is another damaged character who is unapologetic about it. He’s also well aware of what an asshole he is, but he’s determined to save the soul of a girl that he lost to hell, even if it means he’ll be damned in the process.

Technically, he’s already damned, but he’s trying, and that’s what’s hooked me.

Z Nation was another series that lost me in the first episode. A Walking Dead wannabe, the story is one of a world that has fallen to the predations of a zombie plague, but there’s one man who’s survived an experimental vaccine for the disease. He’s the only man who’s immune and he must somehow get across the country to a research facility that could use his immunity to manufacture a cure.

What lost me? When they stop off at a town, they rescue a baby from a car crash. There’s no evidence it’s been bitten, and yet, it turns, and when it turns, it somehow starts running around like a speed demon and develops a malevolent intelligence.

That was it for me . . .

I had to be picky. I’m not into comedies or dramas much, so there are a lot of new offerings I haven’t sampled.

For what it’s worth, that’s my opinion of the new television season.

Have any shows struck your fancy this year? I know, some of you are good, and you don’t watch television, but let me know what you think anyway.

TTFN!

Series Discoveries

WWC 2014, Day 2: An hour with Jack Whyte

Jack WhyteJack is simply fabulous. You can read more about him on his web site, camulod.com/aboutjack.


 

When I wrote The Sky Stone, I was called by the Historical Society to speak to a bunch of academics. Do you know what I told them? “Do you think my head buttons up the back?”

Eventually, I was decided to go, and I ended up getting three standing ovations. One of the reasons why? Historians are bound by the historical record. Writers get to speculate. We get to write what the historians wish they could.

That’s the kind of research you have to do, though. You have to be able to speak to a room of historians as though they were your peers.

You can do it all on the internet, but don’t rely on Wikipedia. Because anyone can contribute, occasionally, they do. It’s a place to start, but then go to your public or university library.

Research can obsess you. Answer the questions you need to proceed with your novel but no more.

You have to be able to write with authority.

Look at the art of the time, the architecture, the fashion, the design. Get the whole picture first. Most of it won’t even make it into your novel, but when you get the details right, your fictional world will come alive for the reader.

Q: How did you start?

In college, I was dating a beautiful woman. I called her “the Polish princess.” We made a date to go for a walk together. I read Quo Vadis, while I waited. She was an hour late. It turns out her grandfather was the author. I thought, “Wouldn’t that be neat if this happened to me?”

Everything I write is written to be heard.

I was a great fan of Frank Yerby (Mel’s note: Yes, I totally get the irony of citing Wikipedia in this transcription, but as Jack said, it’s a starting place. You want to find out more, go research.). He wrote magnificent historical fiction.

Read your work aloud. I record it and listen to it while driving. Your errors will become apparent.

Q: What’s a typical writing day for Jack Whyte?

I write from 8 pm to 2 am. The next day, I print and edit the pervious day’s work.

Discipline is the key.

Q: Do you plot?

When I begin writing, I know the ending. Then I look for the start. But I just write. I don’t plot, per se.

I’ve written 9 novels in 37 years.

There’s a bit of snobbery in Canadian Literature. Look at Pierre Burton and Farley Mowat. Commercial success and genre fiction are dirty words.

Q: Have you ever had any legal issues?

Not really. We have a moral obligation not to defame anyone who doesn’t deserve it.

In the end, everything is fiction. Even an historical document, because it was written through the frame of the time its author lived in.


 

Next week: Business planning for creative people.

Tomorrow: Finally ready to write my Series discoveries post and I’ll have a brief update on the week.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 12-18, 2014

This week, the psychology stays light, the science is awesome, and pets will claim your heart 🙂

An illustrated guide to the introvert. Atchuup!

I love this girl’s response to bullying! Up Worthy.

A pep talk from Kid President and Grover for Socktober 🙂

 

Twelve personas that can supercharge creativity and innovation. Launch your Genius!

Intriguing and titillating TED talk on orgasm by Mary Roach.

Watch an x-ray of someone doing yoga. Design Taxi.

Tetrachromacy allows this artist to see 100 million colours (!) An creative superpower. IFLS.

Can we build a better solar cell? IFLS says, yes!

How a lunar eclipse saved Columbus. Discovery News.

The astronomy picture of the day: a full circle rainbow over Australia. NASA.

Wow. The lost forest world of Earth’s largest cave. Mysterious Universe.

How bees work together to defeat a giant wasp. IFLS.

Amazing pictures of lighthouses that have stood the test of time. EarthPorm.

A Labyrinth sequel? ZOMG! i09.

Here’s an idea whose time has come: Nova Scotia to make it illegal to abandon pets. Herald News.

What do dogs really think? Lockerdome.

Just a few more steps . . . and a few more drops. This pug has bladder capacity to spare! And a quirky sense of style 🙂

 

This little bulldog wants to howl. Kawaii! BuzzFeed.

And this sweet little schnauzer gets so excited when her girl comes home from college, she passes out! EarthPorm.

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 12-18, 2014

Lots of writerly tools for your kit. NaNoWriMo prep, Scrivener tricks, and moar!

Catherine Ryan Howard gives us a sneak peek of Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, 3rd Edition. See why Roz Morris thinks of this book as one of her go to references 🙂

Speaking of Roz, here’s here next installment in the novels aren’t movies series: How to write great description in prose.

K.M. Weiland answers the most frequently asked question to come out of her character arcs series of posts: How do you write a character arc over a series?

We all know what a protagonist and an antagonist are (or we should), but what’s a contagonist? Katie answers that question and describes how best to use one in your novel in her weekly vlog.

Becca Puglisi posts eleven novelist-tested (writer’s) blockbusters on Writers Helping Writers.

Janice Hardy continues the NaNoWriMo prep from last week with her post on planning the middle of your novel.

And the third in Janice’s series, planning the end of your novel. Fiction University.

Jami Gold shares her thoughts on NaNo prep as well. Are you ready to start drafting?

Chuck Wendig posts about what you need to know about guns to write them right.

How to create a character sketch using Scrivener, from Matt Herron for The Write Practice.

In related news, Sherry D. Ramsey shows us how to create a submission tracker in Scrivener.

Nina Munteanu explores archetypes in the second part of her hero’s journey series.

See you on Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

Sundog snippet: Writerly events and an update on the construction

Kim FahnerOn Thursday, I went to see my friend Kim Fahner read her poetry at the Open Studio Showcase. Along with Kim were all three of Sudbury’s Poet Laureates, past and present (Roger Nash, Daniel Aubin, and Tom Leduc). Richard Van Camp was MC and storyteller for the evening.

A couple of people signed up for the open mic and added some much needed estrogen to the line up 🙂

The theme of the evening was Identity.

Today, I took a trip out to our Chapter’s to visit with Mat Del Papa and Lisa Coleman-Brown, who were selling and signing copies of Creepy Capreol. While there, I met with fellow Sudbury Writers’ Guild members Renny De Groot, Scott Overton, and Irene Golas.

Mat and Lisa

I an odd turn of events, a gentleman asked the table to watch his collie, fittingly named Lassie, while he dodged over to Kelsey’s for lunch.

. . .

In destruction construction news, the blasting is over, the rubble is cleared, and they’ve torn up all the old paving on our driveway.

SatOct18b

I think they need to move the storm drain and reconstruct the curb before they get the retaining wall started. The hold up with the driveway appears to be the mass of clay around the water shut off valves, which must, of course, be excavated and replaced with proper fill (otherwise, they’ll just have to redo things next year when the frost heaves all that clay again).

Nu is doing well. Phil and I are getting used to the VetPen, but I won’t have further news until Nu has her next glucose curve on the 30th.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, people.

See you all on Tipsday!

Sundog snippet

WWC 2014, Day 2: Have pen, will travel, with Jacqueline Guest

You can find out more about Jacqueline at her web site.Jacqueline Guest


 

When I was young, two books saved my life: A Child’s Book of Bible Ethics, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Don’t give up. If you have the passion to write, revise, edit, and make your novels perfect, you will get published.

As a writer, I have adventures. I travel and meet a lot of interesting people. You have to be flexible to make this happen, though.

I went to Inuvik and when I arrived, this weird dude picks me up—on a snow machine. He’s a man of few words. He takes me back to his place for the night. His place is full of hunting gear. (Mel’s note: This story was much more detailed and entertaining in Jacqueline’s telling. I only recorded the highlights.)

I found out later that he was a fixture of the community. People started dropping by, the elders and other villagers, and everyone told him their stories. I learned so much and met most of the community that way.

One of my books, Wild Ride, was written about the spring bear hunt, or rather against it. The ability to raise awareness is the power of the pen.

Another of my books features the Rocky Mountain Rally. I research everything I write, and experience what I can first hand.

Experience equals content.

The Writers’ Union of Canada and other writers’ organizations keep lists of where presenters have been and where they’re wanted. Do your research and find out where you can go to gain your experience.

What is unique about your book? This is your selling point.

History can give you what you need, but you can’t change it.

There’s also a need for what are called “hi-lo” books. It stands for high interest, low vocabulary and is intended to attract reluctant readers or those with learning disabilities who find it difficult to read.

Books become our touchstones, our points of connection with one another.

What if we are all connected?

Put out positive energy. You reap what you sow.


 

Tomorrow: I’ll have a Sundog snippet for you including a couple of writerly events around town and a brief update on the construction.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 5-11, 2014

Psychology is back in the mix with a pile of interesting TED Talks.

What happened to #BringBackOurGirls? World Post.

How sleep patterns have changed over the years and why we might want to change back. Collective Evolution.

Andrew Solomon: Depression, the secret we all share. TED Talk.

JD Schramm on the silence surrounding suicide. TED Talk.

Eleanor Longden shares her journey from schizophrenia back to mental health. TED Talk.

Elyn Saks on her struggle with schizophrenia and what is taught her about seeing the mentally ill with compassion and clarity. TED Talk.

Vsauce answers the question, why are we morbidly curious? Three’s actually a fair amount of science and psychology backing this one up.

 

And as a follow up, here is Ask a Mortician, on the topic of necrophelia. It’s quite tastefully done, really.

 

Looks like climate change is escalating: 35,000 walrus gather in Alaska. National Geographic.

Remember Rikki Tikki Tavi? The Smithsonian Channel shared this video of the real thing:

 

i09 asks, are we over thinking the dangers of artificial intelligence?

David Brin on the spirit of exploration: comets, Pluto, Titan, and Mars. Contrary Brin.

Jackie Chan’s best story ever? Getting thrashed by Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

 

The Pentatonix cover Clean Bandit’s Rather Be:

 

Get thoughty with it, my friends 🙂

Thoughty Thursday