Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 18-24, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Eleanor Cummins: how humans have created color for thousands of years. Popular Science

How nature works as seen in stunning psychedelic illustrations of scientific processes and phenomena in a 19th century French physics textbook. BrainPickings

More researchy goodness. The Ritman Library is making its Hermetic collection available online.

Satellite data reveals a record number of fires in the Brazilian rainforest. BBC

Mary Anne Potts explains what it’s like to swim through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. National Geographic

On a local level, the CBC reports on the Sudbury Conservation Authority’s puzzled reaction to direction and further cuts to funding.

SciShow Psych spelunks the uncanny valley.

David Armstrong shares neurologist Laura Boyle’s struggle back to health: in men, it’s Parkinson’s, but in women, it’s hysteria. ProPublica

SciShow Space news: new hypotheses about Jupiter’s core and estimates of the numbers of Earth-like planets.

More SciShow Space. This time, they’re breaking down the process that could make Mars settlement possible.

Simon Cooper, Charles Kemp, Daniel R. Little, and Duane W. Hamacher discuss: why do different cultures see such similar meanings in the constellations? The Conversation

SciShow wonders why there aren’t cancer-sniffing dogs in service.

I hope you found something to inspire or support your current creative project.

See you on the weekend for my next chapter update.

Until then, be well 🙂

ThoughtyThursday2019

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 18-24, 2019

Ack! We’re in the last week of August! The weather’s still holding though. I, for one, am going to extend summer for as long as I can.

Whether you’re heading back to school or work, take some time to enjoy these informal writerly learnings 🙂

Vaughn Roycroft talks story endings: happy or sad or something else? Kathleen McCleary considers the values of good fiction. Writer Unboxed

Christina Delay extolls the power of the writing tribe. Then, Jenny Hansen covers the writer hierarchy of needs. Margie Lawson wants you to strive for excellence by using what you learn. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland: how to tell if your story has too much plot, not enough character. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Cat Rose about being a creative introvert. The Creative Penn

Roz Morris offers seven swift storytelling hacks for backstory, description, dialogue, exposition, point of view, and plot. Nail Your Novel

Victoria Mixon takes a different approach to character motivation. Then, September C. Fawkes shares four keys to a powerful denouement. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci compares static and dynamic characters.

Abigail K. Perry delves into James Scott Bell’s eleventh signpost scene: lights out. Brenda Joyce Patterson takes a deep dive into playwriting. Then Bethany Henry offers five tips for creating engaging characters. DIY MFA

Janice Hardy explains how to write a scene (and what qualifies as a scene). Fiction University

Jami Gold hopes you take a leap of faith in fiction and in life.

Oren Ashkenazi analyses seven stories with contrived character conflict. Mythcreants

William R. Leibowitz details his research for his latest novel: using facts as the base of science fiction. Writer’s Digest

Laurie Penny says, we can be heroes: how nerds are reinventing pop culture. A story about stories, fanfic, structure, the hero’s journey, and awesome. Wired

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be back on Thursday with some thoughty links for you.

Until then, be well.

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 11-17, 2019

Looking for something to trigger your next creative project? Here are some resources to get your mental corn popping.

Liam Tung: the US Navy is ditching touchscreens for physical throttles on their destroyers. Technology isn’t always our friend. ZDNet

In SciShow Space news: dark matter may have originated before the big bang. Also, what’s a neutron star glitch and what does it tell us about how the universe works?

Dr. Becky considers the “WTF” star (AKA Tabby’s star) and why its strange dimming remains a mystery.

Merrit Kennedy reports on experimental shorts that are really an exosuit that boosts endurance on the trail. NPR

Rachel Hartigan Shea take us inside Robert Ballard’s search for Amelia Earhart’s plane. National Geographic

Adrian Blomfield: Ebola has killed 2,000 people in the last year—why is it back? The Telegraph

Rachel Sugar says, in a world of chaos, escape rooms make sense. Vox

Kevin Loria: how to eat less plastic. Consumer Reports

E. Jamieson and Sadie Ryan explain how Twitter is helping the Scots language thrive in the 21st century. Because language! The Conversation

Annie Zaleski calls Kate Bush at 60 an exquisite pop genius whose influence endures. Salon

Erica Tennenhouse reports on a dolphin who adopts a baby whale and cares for it for three years. National Geographic

Nick Haddad relates the mysterious fate of the world’s largest butterfly. UnDark

Ben Hoare introduces us to seven of nature’s more colourful show-offs. Science Focus

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 11-17, 2019

It’s time to dig into another week’s worth of informal writerly learnings 🙂

Elizabeth A. Harvey is remembering Toni Morrison. Then, Nancy Johnson shows us how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye offers a masterclass in craft. Porter Anderson: murders she didn’t write, a provocation on writers in the context of real world gun violence. Rheea Mukherjee: negotiating social privilege as a writer. Jim Dempsey wants you to explore the wonders of your character’s world view. Sarah Callender forgets to remember that writing is an act of faith. Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci helps you get back into the writing habit after a break.

C.S. Lakin visits Helping Writers Become Authors: how to evoke reader emotions with “surprisingness.” Then, she heads over to Larry Brook’s Storyfix to explain how to effectively “tell” emotions in fiction.

Emily Wenstrom offers three tips for creating your author newsletter before you’re published. And here’s my latest column: find storytelling inspiration with the women of the Kalevala. Constance Emmett shares five tips for surviving rejection. DIY MFA

Lisa Hall-Wilson shares four ways to go deeper with point of view. Then, Laura Drake starts with character first. Writers in the Storm

Michelle Barker wants you to remember that the wand chooses the wizard. Writers Helping Writers

Janice Hardy explains why you want nitpicky critiquers. Fiction University

Robert Lee Brewer explains the difference between slight of hand and sleight of hand. Writer’s Digest

Some reassuring advice from Chris Winkle: why you shouldn’t worry about someone stealing your manuscript. Then, Oren Ashkenazi offers advice on choosing naval tactics for your pre-gunpowder world. Mythcreants

Sam Bleicher offers some unusual writing tips on dealing with facts in science fiction. The Creative Penn

Ferris Jabr: the story of storytelling. Harper’s

Thanks for visiting. Come back on Thursday for some thoughty.

Until then, be well!

Tipsday2019

Book review of The Calculating Stars

What Amazon says:

TheCalculatingStarsOn a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

My thoughts:

I loved this novel not only for the author’s reimagining of the space program, but for her unflinching examination of gender equality, racism, and mental health, all of which are pivotal to her plot.

Elma York, a calculator and former WASP pilot in the second world war, and her husband, a lead engineer with NACA, witness the meteorite strike that takes out most of the east coast while they are out of town. Their home along with Washington DC and NACA headquarters are destroyed.

The nation’s capital is moved to Kansas where, in the wake of the strike, the first order of business is to convince the newly formed government of the meteorite’s longer-term effects, including rendering Earth inimical to continued human existence. They have to establish colonies off-world to ensure humanity’s survival.

As the new space program, under the oversight of the International Aeronautics Coalition moves forward, forces of opposition in the form of Earth First rise and seek to reallocate all government funding to supporting the meteor refugees and helping to keep Earth sustainable, sometimes violently.

Elma strives to have women included in the space program—the ultimate goal is settlement, is it not?—and inadvertently becomes a celebrity as one of the first “astronettes.” As the Lady Astronaut, she must make public appearances as well as enduring astronaut training while coping with severe social anxiety.

She becomes aware of the discrimination against astronauts of colour and struggles to overcome her embedded prejudices and become an ally for her new friends. The “I” in IAC does stand for international.

Kowal’s characters are complex and flawed, as are the relationships between them. The Yorks are in a committed marriage and their relationship is real and messy and wonderful. The Lindholms have their own different, but no less challenging marriage. Elma’s friendships with the other women astronauts aren’t easy, but they’re stronger for their conflicts. Her relationship with Betty, who is—and always will be—a journalist first, is particularly fraught.

Elma has a complicated history with the lead astronaut, Stetson Parker, who was her CO during the war. He’s misogynist and preyed upon the younger women WASPs. Elma reported him. The fact that he’s once more in a position of authority over her and the rest of the women astronauts causes Elma further problems.

Aside from the initial meteorite hit, there are plane crashes, rocket crashes, natural disasters and action aplenty, just in case you think the above descriptions make The Calculating Stars sound too much like a character study. It’s that, and so much more.

The novel has won the Nebula and Locus awards and tonight, it may win a Hugo.

You don’t have to take my word for it, but I give The Calculating Stars my highest recommendation.

My rating:

Five out of five stars.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 4-10, 2019

It’s that time of week again. Let’s get your mental corn popping!

Jake Cline: internet slang is more sophisticated than it seems. An introduction to Gretchen McCulloch’s new book, Because Internet. Because language 🙂 The Atlantic

Dr. Becky relates the story of the Milky Way.

Rowan Jacobsen dives into SoulBuffalo and their ocean plastic field trip for corporate executives. Outside Online

Veronique Greenwood explains why indoor air quality is important to our bodies and our brains. BBC

Bill Sullivan shares his surprising findings about why we like what we like. National Geographic

Joe tries out human echolocation. It’s okay to be smart

SciShow examines the mammalian dive reflex.

Kate Bueckert reports on a flicker of hope in the insect world: firefly and monarch numbers are up according to Ontario researchers. CBC

And that was thoughty Thursday. Thanks for visiting and I hope you found something you need.

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

ThoughtyThursday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 4-10, 2019

You’ve worked hard this week (so far). Reward yourself with some informal writerly learnings.

Jael McHenry: it’s always in the last place you look. Donald Maass considers persuasion.  Then, Kathryn Craft wants you to give your reader an experience. David Corbett has a conversation with Zoe Quinton about developmental editing. And Kathryn Magendie writes about becoming a rogue planet (when you lose your publisher). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland shares part two of her five character arcs at a glance series: the three negative arcs. Helping Writers Become Authors

Abigail K. Perry looks at characters in terms of grit, wit, and it. Slush Pile Survivor

C.S. Lakin explains when telling, not showing, emotion is the right choice. Writers Helping Writers

Leanne Sowul: what writing can do for you. DIY MFA

Jenna Moreci lists her top ten worst dystopian tropes.

Sangeeta Mehta interviews Sarah LaPolla and Kim Lionetti for Jane Friedman’s blog.

Chuck Wendig: on writing from a place of fear vs from a place of love. Terribleminds

Reedsy offers a guide to fantasy subgenres.

Chris Winkle: filling in your story’s middle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi relates six common forms of bad writing advice. Mythceants

Jami Gold: when writing advice goes wrong.

Robert Lee Brewer looks at the difference between it’s and its. I know, seems basic. Doesn’t mean I don’t make the mistake from time to time. Reinforcement is always good. Writer’s Digest

Richard Lea and Sian Cain pay tribute to Toni Morrison, who died August 6, at the age of 88. The Guardian

Dwight Garner honours Morrison as a writer of many gifts who bent language to her will. The New York Times

There were so many more tributes, this humble curation would have been huge. I just chose a couple.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something of value.

Until Thursday, be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Book review of Putting the Science in Fiction

Another overdue review.

What Amazon says:

Science and technology have starring roles in a wide range of genres–science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, and more. Unfortunately, many depictions of technical subjects in literature, film, and television are pure fiction. A basic understanding of biology, physics, engineering, and medicine will help you create more realistic stories that satisfy discerning readers.

This book brings together scientists, physicians, engineers, and other experts to help you:

  • Understand the basic principles of science, technology, and medicine that are frequently featured in fiction.
  • Avoid common pitfalls and misconceptions to ensure technical accuracy.
  • Write realistic and compelling scientific elements that will captivate readers.
  • Brainstorm and develop new science- and technology-based story ideas.

Whether writing about mutant monsters, rogue viruses, giant spaceships, or even murders and espionage, Putting the Science in Fiction will have something to help every writer craft better fiction.

Putting the Science in Fiction collects articles from “Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy,” Dan Koboldt’s popular blog series for authors and fans of speculative fiction (http://dankoboldt.com/science-in-scifi/). Each article discusses an element of sci-fi or fantasy with an expert in that field. Scientists, engineers, medical professionals, and others share their insights in order to debunk the myths, correct the misconceptions, and offer advice on getting the details right.

PuttingTheScienceInFiction

My thoughts:

I subscribe to Dan Koboldt’s newsletter and refer to his site as a resource for research. When I learned that he was putting some of the essays from his site into a book, I had to buy it. Now I have a great reference on my shelf which is a starting point for research.

The book is divided into sections that cover biomedical topics, including death, genetics (Koboldt’s specialization), neuroscience, wildlife biology, artificial intelligence and other computer-based technology, Earth and the planets of our solar system, astronomy and space flight, and, finally, the future of space travel and exoplanets.

Chuck Wendig writes the foreword, on the advice to write what you know and what it really means (do your research). In his signature playful tone, Wendig clarifies the advice and demonstrates how he’s applied it in his own writing life, finishing by calling Putting the Science in Fiction a great launching pad for essential research.

The contributors themselves write with humour—find out why, as a woman working in a lab, you should never wear thong underwear—and draw on their personal expertise for an enjoyable read. In the chapters addressing space travel, they reveal their geek roots, honouring the books, television shows, and movies that inspired them while at the same time pointing out the technical misconceptions such media promote.

Putting the Science in Fiction is a great reference for any writer’s shelf.

My rating:

Four stars out of five.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 28-Aug 3, 2019

And now, it’s time to get your mental corn popping.

‘They have become the new religion’: Esther Perel says we expect too much from relationships. “Out in the open” with Piya Chattopadhyay on CBC.

Why the trend of surveilling strangers online proves we are horrible. This ties in to the post I shared by Kim Fahner last week and why we should resist objectifying others for our amusement or sense of superiority. “Spark” with Nora Young on CBC.

Allie Volpe explains why kids invent imaginary friends. Guess us writers just never grew up 😉 The Atlantic

SciShow Psych looks at the differences between men and women who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Ethan Siegal: today is not 24 hours long. Forbes

Dr. Becky observes the cartwheel galaxy. Space is weird

The BBC reports on the discovery of a clay tablet on which the oldest extract of Homer’s Odyssey has been found. Struggled for a while over whether to post this in Tipsday or here on Thoughty Thursday, but the latter won out, because archeology.

Chris Dawson: North Bay unrolls its first accessible beach mat. The Northern Life

Jeffery DelViscio explains how a bionic hand helps amputees “feel” again. Scientific American

Martin Giles wonders, is AI the next big climate change threat? We have no idea. MIT Technology Review

Massive ice melt caused by heatwave over Greenland. CBC

Kent German explores the relationship between redwoods, birds, and microphones in the quest to save an endangered species. CNET

SciShow makes a dog Q&A compilation 🙂

Because tardigrades! Chubby, misunderstood, and not immortal. Journey into the microcosmos

Thanks for visiting and I hope you found some inspirational fuel for your next (or current) creative project.

Until tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

ThoughtyThursday2019