Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 24-Mar 2, 2019

All rightie, then! It’s time for some informal writerly learnings.

Lisa Hall-Wilson: how to make dominant female characters likeable. Then, Tiffany Yates-Martin helps you get unblocked and avoid writer’s block. Later still, Orly Konig shares the secrets to turning a lemon into a book. Writers in the Storm

Julia Munroe Martin advises on the care and feeding of the weary writer. Barbara O’Neal is a writer seeking experiences (it’s called filling the well). Then, Jeanne Kisacky asks, what keeps your characters up at night? Writer Unboxed

Jenna Moreci offers her top tips on writing healthy relationships.

 

K.M. Weiland examines her difficulties with writing: seven things to try when writing is hard. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy explains the difference between archetypes, tropes, and clichés. Later in the week, Janice explores one common way writers weaken their descriptions. Fiction University

Emily Wenstrom shares her tips for decluttering your social media accounts.  My latest column came out on Tuesday. How to build an alien: extremophiles. Then, Gabriela Pereira interviews Glynn Stewart about twisting the tropes of military science fiction. DIY MFA

Jerry B. Jenkins stops by Writers Helping Writers to help you write backstory through dialogue.

Chris Winkle wants you to plan super light stories. Mythcreants

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something to help you progress in your creative endeavours.

Be well until next time!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 2-15, 2018

Last week, I had two skimpy links to offer. As I said, my brain refused to brain in the week following NaNoWriMo. This week, the neurons mustered, and so I have a reasonable selection of stuff to pop your mental corn 🙂

The Guardian editorial staff shares its view on editing human DNA: a bad idea, and badly executed.

This “city” for people with dementia is the future of memory care. Katherine Schwab for Fast Company.

More neuroscience with Shannon Odell. Your brain on hangovers. Inverse

 

David Paul Kirkpatrick is breathing in the light. An instruction in the “Golden Flower” meditation. Better Humans/Medium

Matt Novak: how did Mary Queen of Scots send her secret messages? Paleofuture

Lizzie Philip takes a close-up look at the most influential medical book of the 16th century. Atlas Obscura

Robert Iriondo: differences between AI and machine learning and why it matters. Data Driven Investor

Brandon Specktor reports that Earth’s mysterious “deep biosphere” harbours millions of undiscovered species. NBC

Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its baby powder. Lisa Girion for Reuters.

Christine Ro: the psychology behind stalking. Vice

And on that disturbing note, that was thoughty Thursday.

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

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 23-29, 2018

Welcome to thoughty Thursday where the goal is to get your mental corn popping!

That Phoenix debacle that keeps popping up from time to time in my social media feeds or these curations? Yeah, that one. Here’s a video that may help explain things:

 

Sarah DiGiulio explains why your weird dreams actually make a lot of sense (according to neuroscience and psychology). NBC News

Megan Feldman Bettencourt: how forgiveness has been weaponized against women. In other words, to truly forgive someone, they have to be held accountable. Harper’s Bazaar

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the dead beneath London’s streets. Smithsonian Magazine

SciShow introduces us to the incredible biodiversity of Lake Baikal—plus, extremophiles!

 

Matt Reynolds examines the almighty tussle over whether we should talk to aliens or not. SETI, METI, and the arguments for and against. Wired

Stephanie Pappas: humans contribute to the Earth’s wobble. Scientific American

SciShow Space looks at the Dark Matter vs. MOND debate.

 

Eric Mack: NASA turns 60 and it’s reinventing itself for the SpaceX era. Cnet

Adrien Mauduit shares his time-lapse video of the skies over Tenerife:

 

Florence + the Machine cover Tori Amos’s “Cornflake Girl.”

 

Beck: Colours

 

I hope you found something interesting in this edutainment mix.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my next chapter update for September.

Until then, be well, my writerly friends 🙂

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CanCon 2015, day 1: Ecology and story workshop with Nina Munteanu

It took us a little longer to drive to Ottawa than I thought, so I was late for this workshop. My apologies to Nina and to any of my readers who experience confusion as a result. If you think there’s something missing, you’re probably right 🙂

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Overlapping ecosystems are vibrant.

Ecologists ask why and how.

  • Why do species eat this food and not that one?
  • How do the environment, other species, diet, etc. limit population growth?

Adaptive traits:

  • Mimicry
  • Camouflage

Autotrophs (producers – species which produce their own food)

Phototrophs (produce food from light)

The Bracken Fern. Ubiquitous. Found on every continent except Antarctica. Very successful. Carcinogenic. Breaks down vitamin B. Reproduces by both spores and rhizomes.

Fiddleheads contain cyanide. Aggressive symbiosis. They attract ants which in turn defend it against other predators (peonies do this, too, though they don’t contain cyanide).

Nothing else will grow in a hemlock grove. It kills all potentially competitive species.

Some primates live with viruses that cause disease in other species because the monkey is the virus’s ‘ideal’ host. (Mel’s note: I think this was a digression into other forms of symbiosis–monkeys aren’t phototrophs.)

Chemotrophs (produce food from chemical processes)

Heterotrophs (consumers and decomposers, including us)

Parasites

Saprotrophs – fungi and bacteria

Detrivores – insects and earthworms

Lynn Margulis proposed the Gaia hypothesis and symbiogenesis (Google search for more information).

Endosymbiosis – cooperative adaptation.

Darwin’s theory of competition (survival of the fittest) is incomplete. It doesn’t explain altruism.

Symbiosis leads to happiness.

  • Kin selection – the choice to support the reproductive group including sacrifice for the greater good (heroism).
  • Group selection – the choice to limit population growth in favour of x (where x is more food, habitat, etc. for all).
  • Reciprocal altruism – The vampire bat, for example. All hunters may not be successful, but the successful hunters will share their food with the unsuccessful and with mothers/pups (by regurgitation) to ensure the continued strength of the community.
  • True altruism – Dolphins will help humans and other species for no apparent gain. (Mel’s note: they may also rape their own and other species for no apparent reason, but that’s another story.)
  • Communal feeding – Lions in prides.
  • Satellites – In some frog species, the small males will hang out with the big, noisy ones and ‘head off’ the eligible females attracted by their big, noisy brethren.
  • Niche partitioning – competing species that coexist in the same ecosystem by voluntarily partitioning food, habitat, etc..

Adaptation and extremophiles

The brine shrimp of Mono Lake (California) thrive in inland seas with salinity that kills potential predators. They can also survive being dried out.

There are flies that can swim and dive because they carry their own oxygen supplies in air bubbles.

There are bacteria that feed on sulphur.

The Microbes of Lake Untersee in Antarctica live in a super alkaline environment with lots of dissolved methane in the water. They create stromatolites—the largest ever found anywhere.

Bacteria in the Rio Tinto thrive in extreme acidity and high iron content in the water.

The fungi of Chernobyl feed on high levels of radioactivity.

The Atacama Salt Flats in Chile is the most arid desert in the world, yet hypolithic algae have evolved to thrive where no other plant life can.

Tardigrades (also known as water bears or moss piglets) can survive anywhere, even in space (for approximately ten days). They can be revived after a century of desiccation and endure 1000 times the lethal dose of radiation for a human. Technically, they’re not true extremophiles because they have not adapted to prefer, or thrive in these environments. They merely survive.

 

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The rest of the workshop was taken up by an exercise in which we applied ecology to the characters of our stories. How have our protagonists adapted to thrive in adverse conditions, compete against, or mimic, other characters, to become the heroes of our stories? In what ways do they show altruism, and is it true altruism, or another form? How does the unique environment of the story world affect them?

It was a very interesting workshop and I’m sorry to have missed the beginning of it.

Unfortunately, because of my late arrival, I did not get a picture of Nina or the workshop participants.

It was a good start to a great weekend of panels, though.

Come back next Saturday when the CanCon 2015 reportage continues with advice on pitching your novel.