Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 12-18, 2017

Time to warm the ole brain pan. There’s mental corn that needs popping.

Arnie Seipel shares the dark origins of Valentine’s Day. NPR

Daniele Cybuskie relates three fairy tale romances in honour of Valentine’s Day. Medievalists.net

Henry Rollins: what side of history do you want to be on? LA Weekly

Mario Livio reports on the discovery of Winston Churchill’s lost essay on alien life. Nature

Tom Hale shares these stunning aquatic vistas by finalists of the underwater photograph of the year competition. IFLS

Cats sailed with the Vikings to conquer the world. Bec Crew for Science Alert.

Katy Evans reports on how dogs and monkeys judge you on how you treat others. IFLS

Do crows have funerals? You betcha. Ask a Mortician

 

Tom Hale encourages you to observe the evidence of evolution in your own body. IFLS

Lesley Alderman: the year of conquering negative thinking. The New York Times

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the people who never forget and what they’re teaching us about memory. The Guardian

Sarah Knapton: our seas have become a plastic graveyard, but can technology turn the tide? The Telegraph

Google’s “DeepMind” AI understands the benefits of betrayal. Robin Andrews for IFLS.

I admit it. I was #furiouslyhappy to find this list of more than 150 learning resources compiled by Janet Alexandersson for Medium.

Here’s hoping creative connections are being made.

See you on Saturday for more WorldCon 2016 reportage.

Stay strong, be kind, and be well!

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 12-18, 2017

All rightie, then! Let’s get to the writerly goodness.

K.M. Weiland shares eight ways to troubleshoot your scenes and five ways to make them fabulous. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jami Gold explores the different ways in which you might approach story structure for a trilogy. Later in the week, Shaila Patel guest posts: creating the right first impression.

Sharon Bially writes about galleys: what are they and why you need them. Writer Unboxed

Leanne Sowul stresses the positive: what stress can do for you. DIYMFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Dr. Sally Parry, Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis Society, for DIYMFA radio.

Oh! And lookie, lookie, who’s joining the DIYMFA team? Why me and three other awesome genre columnists! Now it can be told!

Joel Eisenberg guest posts on Kristen Lamb’s blog: you’re too smart to go down stupid.

Chuck Wendig wonders, is it time, dear writer, to ditch your literary agent? Terribleminds

Then, he trots over to Writer’s Digest to post 15 ways to earn your audience as a writer.

Becca Puglisi makes another entry in the character motivation thesaurus: realizing a dream. Writers Helping Writers

Oren Ashkenazi examines five cases of unfulfilled foreshadowing. Mythcreants

Andrew Falconer explains why fantasy writers should embrace their heritage. Mythcreants

Jennifer Schaeffer compiles 51 of the most beautiful sentences in literature for Buzzfeed.

How Shakespeare invented thinking on the page. Oxford Handbooks Online

 

Marie Howe: protecting your inner life in times of political turmoil. Literary Hub

Taylor Jones: linguists have been discussing “shit gibbon.” I argue it’s not entirely about gibbons. Hilarious. Insightful. Creative. Inspiring. I now have a new lexicon of swearage to draw upon 😀

Nnedi Okorafor states that The Parable of the Sower is the dystopia for our age, not Nineteen Eighty-Four. Modern Ghana

Philip Pullman announces a companion trilogy for His Dark Materials. NPR

The Legend of Korra continues in Dark Horse comics. James Whitbrook for i09.

Phil Plait writes a not really Bad Astronomy review of Arrival. Blastr

And that was your informal writerly learnings for the week.

Come back on Thursday for some thoughty 🙂

Be well until then.

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Generation starships

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

genstarships

Panellists: Pat Cadigan, Gregory Benford, Mark W. Tiedemann, Brenda Cooper (moderator), Jerry Pournelle

Joined in progress …

GB: We can work out the engineering problems. The people problems, we can’t.

JP: We have to have some form of artificial gravity. Currently, interstellar travel can only be accomplished by accelerating half way and then decelerating the other half. The Fermi paradox says there might be one civilization, not planet, not planet with some form of life, but one civilization, per galaxy.

PC: People choose to live in habitats orbiting Earth. They don’t have artificial gravity. The solution could be epigenetics. Adapt the body to life in space. Once you pass a few generations, the privations become irrelevant. Then we have to face the challenges of exploration and colonization of new worlds. We’ve faced some of these problems before. The prairie skies produced agoraphobia. When the generation ships land, people will be totally freaked. We’ll need to regulate space and noise.

BC: There was a 100 year starship symposium at which it was posited that generation ships would have to have a military-like social structure.

MWT: I don’t see why we’d want to do that. It would work, but not without the benefits that make such a system worth it.

GB: That might be the wrong analog. If you have a pool, you need a lifeguard. The army has a purpose in the larger community. A genration ship is a community.

JP: The Melanesians who settled Hawaii knew they were going on a one way trip. A worker who works, lives, and never leaves Manhattan might as well be on a colony.

PC: If we have habitations around Saturn, it’s too far away for help to get there in the case on an emergency. It would have to be a regimented society. They would have to constantly be checking their equations, their plans. They would never want to be doing something for the first time.

MWT: The personalities of the volunteers will influence what happens on the ship, and in the colony.

BC: What would people on the ship do for fun?

GB: What does anyone do? Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

PC: Even the frivolous pursuits would have to be engineered.

MWT: I think virtual reality would be a major component.

BC: How can you teach generation after generation order and discipline and then expect innovation and creativity to emerge at the destination?

JP: That’s what novelists are for.

And that was time.

Next week: The dark side of fairy tales 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you found something of interest or entertainment.

Be well until next I blog.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 5-11, 2017

I hope this batch of thoughty pops your mental corn (i.e. sets off a chain reaction that results in awesome creativity)!

Why the Middle Ages are called the dark ages. Medievalists.net

Dr. Dark Age begins a series on the “Dark Enlightenment” on Public Medievalist with this post: a brief history of a terrible idea. Fascinating reading. The gist is this: “’Dark Enlightenment’ (DE) is a theory dreamed up by self-styled Internet philosophers who claim to trace modern-day problems to the end of the Middle Ages. According to DE proponents, the Enlightenment’s humanism, democracy, and quest for equality are responsible for the decay of Western civilization.”

Simon Segal reports on the case of the curious crystal weapons (sorry to max out the alliteration there). Curious Mind Magazine

Lady Gaga on GoalCast: remember who you are.

Leroy Little Bear: Canada is a pretend nation. REDxTalks

Sylvia Van Kirk relates the tale of Thanadelthur, the Chipewyan known as “Slave Woman.” Canada’s History Mel’s note: Thanadelthur’s life and deeds were recorded primarily by the white men whom she helped. Keep this in mind as you read.

Robert Kolker introduces us to Thomas Hargrove, a life-long “data guy” who’s working on an algorithm that identifies trends in unsolved murders. Bloomberg Businessweek

Cade Metz says the danger of artificial intelligence isn’t Skynet, but the end of the middle class. Wired

Bad astronomer Phil Plait has moved to SyFyWire and shares this amazing image of Jupiter from below. Later in the week, Phil turns his gaze earthward to examine the mysterious blue jets that blast up from certain storm clouds. Then, he offered some tips on how to best see Friday’s penumbral lunar eclipse. Sadly, it was a snowy night here in the Sudz, and I couldn’t see a thing 😦

Anna Vlasits introduces us to the secret, skin-powered alphabet of squid. Wired

Short, but sweet, I hope you agree 🙂

See you on the weekend with more WorldCon reportage.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong!

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 5-11, 2017

And here, for your edumacation, is Tipsday!

K.M. Weiland presents most common writing mistakes, part 56: unfulfilled foreshadowing. Helping Writers Become Writers

Later in the week, Kate explains why you should write a story with a plot.

Jael McHenry wonders, how do you cook your books? Writer Unboxed

June Stevens Westerfield: why you need a media kit, even if you aren’t published yet. Writers in the Storm

Michael Hauge joins the Writers Helping Writers coaching crew: does your character description create a powerful image? Then, Angela Ackerman advises how to accurately describe your character’s pain. Writers Helping Writers

Janice Hardy offers a simple trick to create a stronger first person narrative. Fiction University

Naomi Hughes returns to Jami Gold’s blog with her top three writing craft issues: how to spot ‘em, and how to fix ‘em. Later in the week, Christina Delay offers her five steps to avoid overwriting.

Constance Renfrow lists the eight most common reasons she sends a rejection. DIYMFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Sebastian Barry on DIYMFA radio.

Jamie Raintree: writers, we are the lucky ones.

Kameron Hurley: yes, you can say no to your editor(s).

Katy Waldman looks at how sensitivity readers are changing the publishing ecosystem: is my novel offensive? Slate

Chris Saylor talks about capitalization on Marcy Kennedy’s blog.

Susan Spann wants pirates to beware: how to prepare and use a DMCA takedown notice. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle shares some lessons from the sloppy writing of The Tommyknockers. Mythcreants

Let’s go back to a future where science fiction does good time travel. Wired

David Mitchell offers his perspective on writing: “ignore everything else.” Joe Fassler for The Atlantic.

Publishers Weekly shares the full text of “Bad Feminist” author Roxane Gay’s Winter Institute 12 keynote speech.

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura: Mr. Darcy, you’re no Colin Firth. The New York Times

Eeee! The Avengers: Infinity Wars teaser. i09

And that was your informal writerly learnings for the week.

See you Thursday *waves*

Be well until then.

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Mining history for the future

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

historyfuture

Panellists: Dana Cameron, Jennie Goloboy, Jack McDevitt, Robert J. Sawyer, Renee Collins (moderator)

Joined in progress …

RJS: Alternate history does what science fiction does, but takes a step back in time rather than looking to the future. Jean Auel’s novels and Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle are examples.

RC: What are we mining history for?

JG: History is a great way to see how things could have been, “if only.” What if Shakespeare lived in Native North America?

DC: There’s a hashtag: #whatshouldhavehappened  It gives us a great opportunity to look at our tropes and culture through the lens of the other.

RJS: History teaches us the rate at which events happen. You can see the cause and effect in retrospect.

JG: The thing about historians is that they’re always looking at what’s different between then and now. There’s something inspirational about the possibilities of change.

DC: The rate of change is faster now, though.

RC: The contrast and comparison is fascinating.

JM: Another approach is that we are the past. What do people in the far future think of us?

RJS: Science fiction is the literature of human contingency—Robert Charles Wilson. We engage in thought experiments. How could things have gone differently?

RC: What are the advantages of using history as the basis for science fiction?

JG: Usually science fiction and fantasy writers get the details right.

RJS: In my Neanderthal Parallax series, I researched heavily in paleoanthropology texts and journals. I looked for the more interesting theories. One of them was that Neanderthals didn’t have religion. My Neanderthals did.

DC: Coming from my background, I had a difficult time writing alternate history.

JG: It’s worldbuilding, not a mistake.

JM: Science fiction writers have an advantage. We can manipulate time. We value history.

And that was time.

Next week, I’ll be transcribing my notes on generation starships.

Be well and stay strong until then!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 29-Feb 4, 2017

Just a little bit of thoughty this week.

Frank T. McAndrew, PhD explains why our grief over a dog is so intense. Psychology Today

Heather Plett: what it really means to hold space for someone. Uplift

Pallab Ghosh reports on the discovery of our oldest human ancestor (and, boy, is it a beauty). BBC

John Walsh examines how doctors measure pain (and whether it’s of any help to patients). The Guardian

John Broich revisits how journalists covered the rises of Mussolini and Hitler. The Smithsonian Magazine

An open letter from the Canadian tech community: diversity is our strength. BetaKit

Rachel Browne covers Prime Minister Trudeau’s fight against fake news. Vice

Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital will provide surgeries for patients affected by the U.S. travel ban. Maclean’s

Jenny Zhang shares an amateur’s guide to activism for frustrated Canadians. Medium

Johnny Silvercloud: why isn’t anyone talking about the radicalization of whites? AfroSapiophile

Rae Paoletta reports on NASA’s twin experiment. Gizmodo

John Newsom: science illiteracy in the U.S. is a serious threat according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Greensboro

ASAP Thought: a brief history of the fear of immigrants.

 

Detroit’s muddy bottom conceals cars, cannons, and guns. Robert Allen for the Detroit Free Press.

Hope it was enough to get your mental corn popping, ‘cause you know I want to inspire you to create great things 🙂

See you on the weekend.

Be well until then.

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 29-Feb 4, 2017

It was another fantabulous week of writerly goodness 🙂

K.M. Weiland helps you find the exact right story hook. Helping Writers Become Authors

Nina Munteanu helps you make your opening count.

Over on Writers Helping Writers, Angela Ackerman writes about describing your character: making every detail count.

Jessica Stawser is acting out of character. Writers in the Storm

Cathy Yardley: writer, know thyself. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass bid us add a touch of romance to our stories. Writer Unboxed

Susan Spann explains how to evaluate a publishing contest. Writer Unboxed

Porter Anderson: “… when authors hunker together to kvetch about “writing is so hard,” they’re romancing the career in a profoundly counter-productive way.” Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt: be the encouragement you want to see in the world. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy: how to write a teen voice. Fiction University

Fae Rowan invites us to use the energies of 2017 to jumpstart our writing careers. Writers in the Storm

Naomi Hughes returns to Jami Gold’s blog with her top three scene issues.

Becca Puglisi delves into overcoming mental illness for the character motivation thesaurus. Writers Helping Writers

Gabriela Pereira interviews Shanthi Sekaran about capturing diverse experiences on the page. DIYMFA

Bess Cozby: three questions you should ask before committing to a revise and resubmit. DIYMFA

Michelle Chalkey lists five benefits of the writer-editor relationship. DIYMFA

Brandon Taylor helps you escape the slush pile. Electric Lit

Blake Atwood launches his new column, editorially speaking, with this post: how to find a book editor you can trust. The Write Life

David Robson introduces us to the untranslatable emotions we never knew we had. BBC

Chris Saylor reminds us how to use apostrophes properly. Marcy Kennedy’s blog

Meet the 2017 Canada Reads contenders. CBC

Ursula K. Le Guin writes a letter to the editor, responding to a comparison between “alternative facts” and fiction. Oregon Live

Andrew Postman’s father, Neil, in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, posited Brave New World as our probable dystopic future as opposed to Nineteen Eighty-Four. It turns out, he was right. The Guardian

David Tennant, the eleventh Doctor himself, tells us everything will be all right.

 

Alisdair Stuart believes it’s time for Doctor Who to change television history for the better. Tor.com

And that was your informal writerly learnings for the week!

Stay strong until Thursday!

tipsday2016

The next chapter: January 2017 update

Hey all you lovely people 🙂 *waves*

This is probably going to be a shortish post.

January was a quiet month. So, I worked and I wrote.

I exceeded my drafting goal for Wavedancer and for blogging, but didn’t meet my revision goal for short fiction. I find it difficult to pull my head out of one form and stick it into another. Also, the publication I’d intended to submit it to has closed to submissions. Though there is an anthology call looming, I don’t know that I’ll be able to write a new piece of short fiction to the theme. Again, it’s not where my creative head is at right now.

But I got a start on a new version of a story and a few ideas for revising others. Yay me 😉

januaryprogress

I wrote 17,943 words of my 15,500 word goal for Wavedancer, or 116%. I’m well on my way to a finished first draft by the end of February.

I only revised 500 words of my 2,500 word revision goal for short fiction.

And I wrote 6,388 words of my 5,800 word goal for this blog.

That’s 24,331 words written and 500 revised.

The way I figure it, my overages more than compensate for the lack of revision 😀

For my off-book goals, I drafted and revised a guest post and submitted some material to my editor/mentor for review.

I booked my hotel for the Story Masters workshop in May, submitted my eligible short fiction for consideration in a year’s best anthology and to the Auroras. It never hurts to try 😉

I’ve also updated some of the information on my website and I’ll be reviewing the information on various social media profiles for consistency shortly.

That’s really all she wrote this month (pun intended).

We’ve received most of the furniture for the living room/dining room, but it’s been too cold for Phil to continue work on the bookshelves. The garage is not heated.

Once the last of the furniture has arrived, I’ll share the pictures.

As I said at the outset, January was a quiet month. February promises the same. The older I get, the more I feel like hibernating in the winter.

It’s good for the writing, but not much else.

Be well until next I blog!

The Next Chapter

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 22-28, 2017

Lookie, lookie, there’s a lot here to get your mental corn popping.

Chris Lonsdale reports on how Silicon Valley is teaching language to machines. Venture Beat

Jackson Landers: Harry Houdini was an ingenious inventor but didn’t want anyone to know about it. The Smithsonian Magazine

Alice Park discovers that a sedentary lifestyle can age you as many as eight years. Time

Chris Buckley and Adam Wu report on the disappearing Datang fishers. The New York Times

Medievalists.net reports on Rheged, the early medieval kingdom recently discovered in Galloway.

Hedges are the life-giving arteries of the land. Fionnuala Fallon for The Irish Times.

Liz Langley reports on how hummingbirds survive the winter. National Geographic

Carolanne Wright reports on the Harvard psychologist who says ADHD is largely a fraud. Wake Up World

Chitra Ramaswamy shares the secrets of people who never get sick. The Guardian

Alexandra Shimo learns first-hand about the high cost of food on First Nations Reserves. TVO

Gloria Galloway: a private donor funds Wapekeka’s suicide-prevention program. The Globe and Mail

Waking Times points out that 20 million Muslims marched in protest against ISIS, and mainstream media ignored it.

Matt Novak shares Carl Sagan’s eerie prediction. Paleofuture

You need to watch Aziz Ansari’s wonderful SNL monologue. Mother Jones

And here’s Ashley Judd’s epic rap:

 

For a little balance, Kid President explains how to disagree with someone 🙂

 

ASAP Thought: why you should never stop protesting.

 

More social consciousness raising. Prince EA: I am not black.

 

Now for some kawaii. Zoos get into epic #cuteanimaltweetoff. Bored Panda

Be well, be kind, and keep protesting!

thoughtythursday2016