AROW80 Check-In for February 26, 2014

Hello again! I am currently sitting on my couch, watching the last episode of Midsomer Murders that Netflix has and feeling very sleepy and cozy and generally in pretty good spirits.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. — Still working on this ; I realized today that I’ve gone a week and only had French fries once. Which says something, since a week ago it would have been the reverse (i.e. gone a week and only NOT had fries once).
  • Keep dentist appointment next week — That’s tomorrow.  And I am ever so nervous about what they’re going to find. But, again, Tooth Pain Roulette is getting on past old.
  • Work on getting exercise  — Still needing to work on this.  The cold weather isn’t helping but my biggest problem is being a lazy butt. 

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out — Still working on Chapter Seventeen but there’s not much left to write of it before I’m on to Chapter Eighteen. I’m thinking that I’m going to end up raising my estimated number of chapters from 20 to 30, just to give a bit more wiggle room.  And I have a feeling that a couple of those extra chapters may end up going at the beginning of the novel.
  • I’m checking out the Manuscript Wish List Day tag on Twitter. Not that I’ve got a manuscript even close to completion but it’s interesting to see what agents and editors are looking for. #MSWL is the tag.
  • Also, as I’ve been on a podcast kick: Writing Excuses is a really cool podcast, aimed at covering different aspects of writing. They’ve got about nine seasons worth of episodes and a lot of them are SF-centric, but there’s also a lot of general writing advice as well.

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AROW80 Check-In for February 23, 2014

Happy Sunday! Hope all is well and that all your breakfasts have been nummy ones the last few days.

I’m cheating a bit and writing this entry on Saturday night before I go to work so as to be able to get to bed earlier than I usually do.  This will probably not succeed but at least I am making a stab at it.

Personal Goals: 

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices. — This has been going fairly well; I’ve bought some things to take to work for lunches and I’m sticking to eating at regular times and eating sensible things when I do.  And I downloaded a Calorie King app on to my iPod so that I can make decisions about what to eat when I go out.
  • Keep dentist appointment next week — 
    That’s coming up this Thursday afternoon. Not looking forward to it, but not particularly enjoying Tooth Pain Roulette every time I drink something cold either.
  • Work on getting exercise, which should be easier now that the snow has begun to melt off (MELT SNOW! MELT! MELT! MELT! AHAHAHAHAHAHAA!). — I walked around Target today! Yeahhh, consider this one still needing to be worked on.

Writing Goals:

  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Fifteen and Chapter Sixteen — following the formal procedure of ‘This feels like a stopping point’. And I’m now on Chapter Seventeen. This book is definitely going to be more than 20 chapters long
  •  I’ve also hit 65,000 words and am onto a second notebook. I’m hoping that if I fill both notebooks with roughly the same amount of words (I ended the first one at 56,665  words), I should have a good start on a draft. Then I just need to write the other four books in the series and we’re golden!
  • Still working on plotting out an ending for Defcon: Fade Out.  Which I have a feeling is going to mean getting a better handle on the beginning of the book.  And figuring out if I’m really close to the end with Chapter 15 or if I’m more at the middle of the story.
  • I have also been making some decisions about the first book of the Defcon series. I’m thinking that it might be a divided story, featuring at least two different groups reacting to the aftermath of World War III and setting up the series proper.
  • And toward that end, I have started keeping a separate, smaller notebook with which to write down ideas for the current book in particular and the series as a whole in general. I’m also keeping track of places where I’m going to need to address problems/fix plot holes/improve things when I begin typing things up for the current draft.  As is traditional, it is a graph paper steno notebook.

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Weird dream….

I had a very weird dream last night — as you do — where many weird things happened but in which the weirdest thing was that I was explaining the historical backdrop for Defcon: Fade Out to a group of people at a bar and Casper Weinberger  — sort of/not really — was among them, nodding approval as I got my facts straight about the state of US vs. Soviet relations circa the early 1980s.

This is either a sign I’m on the right track or a sign I’ve got one wacky subconscious. Either way, it’s all good!

Also, Chapter Fifteen is done!

AROW80 Check-In for February 19, 2014

Happy Wednesday, did you have a nummy breakfast? I had teriyaki chicken and a loaded baked potato and it was pretty darned nummy.

The last couple days have been busy-busy-busy and hurry-scurry around here. The girlfriend is potentially starting a new job soon (she’s kind of Schroedinger’s Temp right now in that we’re pretty sure she’s getting the job but we don’t know when she’ll be starting).  This has required a lot of filling out of forms and then the faxing of said forms as well as drug tests and fingerprinting, plus she’s getting her teeth worked on and had her first appointment for fillings today. Which went very well, to the point that you can only just barely tell where the fillings were put in. It looks like the tooth never even broke.

And I was finally a good girl and signed up for a dental appointment for next week. So, go me!

Had the appointment with the dietitian yesterday and got some good advice about planning a diet to help manage my diabetes. Really, it all comes down to things I already know and should be doing, but that I don’t do because the bad habits are easier.  But, I’m going to be making a change because easy habits are going to make things harder on me in the long run.

I’ve also got an appointment with a doctor over at the diabetes education center as the dietitian I saw — not sure exactly what I’m seeing them for, but likely it’s something to do with helping me to get my A1C back down toward 7.0 and to help keep me from having to take insulin.  I’ve got kind of a phobia about having to go on insulin — partly because I hate needles and partly because I know that when I do manage my diet and make an effort to take care of myself, that my health can and does improve. And I want to work harder on that because insulin + bad habits isn’t going to be a fix either.

That and I am oh my God so afraid of needles it is not even funny. I am not kidding.

On a cheerier note, I’ve discovered a podcast called The Thrilling Adventure Hour,

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a staged production in the style of old time radio that is held monthly at the Coronet Theatre. The show has been running since March 2005. It is live audio theater. Each episode features three non-serialized segments as well as songs and commercials from fictional sponsors. The show is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and directed by Aaron Ginsburg. The show’s original songs are written by Acker & Blacker with composer and band leader Andy Paley.

The podcast breaks the show into the different segments (descriptions of which are at the above link), so you can follow one show or listen to all the different podcasts. My current favorite is Beyond Belief which is kind of like an urban fantasy version of the The Thin Man and spoofs all sorts of different fantasy/horror stories which can be seen in titles like “Rosemary’s Baby Shower” or “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang You’re Dead” (Christine).

Among the other series on the Thrilling Adventure Hour are science fiction shows like Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars, The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock and Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier, a superhero story, Captain Laserbeam and over-the-top spy/adventure stories about Amelia Erhart, Fearless Flyer and Jefferson Reid, Ace American (which features Nathan Fillion as Jefferson Reid).    You can find episodes for download on iTunes and at Nerdist.com.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour was recommended by the folks who do the Welcome to Night Vale podcast (also awesome and weird and incredibly endearing — particularly considering it is a show that features a little girl who is a disembodied man’s hand, a man with a suitcase full of flies and mysterious dog park.)

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide.

The show is also available at iTunes or Stitcher or Libsyn or Feedburner or Soundcloud.

My only complaint about Welcome to Night Vale is that episodes come out on the 1st and the 15th, and since I’ve listened to the entire archive, now I have to wait for new episodes to come out. WHINE!

Right so, on to goals and such:

Personal Goals: These are easy-peasy this week

  • Work on following diet plan that the dietitian worked out and generally making better food choices.
  • Keep dentist appointment next week — which’ll be a new patient visit with X-rays and the finding out of how bad my teeth are. I have a feeling my dental insurance is going to get one hell of a work out.
  • Work on getting exercise, which should be easier now that the snow has begun to melt off (MELT SNOW! MELT! MELT! MELT! AHAHAHAHAHAHAA!).

Writing Goals:

  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Fourteen on Sunday night/Monday morning and have moved on to Chapter Fifteen.
  • I’m getting close to the end of Defcon: Fade Out which is at once terrifying and awesome.  Awesome because I’ll have finished a book for the first time ever and terrifying because I have no idea how I’m going to get from where I am to an ending. Any and all advice, sincerely appreciated!
  • I’m listening to an audiobook called The Family That Couldn’t Sleep : A Medical Mystery by D.T. Max about prion diseases — things like scrapie, mad cow disease, kuru, etc.  It’s fascinating, but I kind of wish I hadn’t listened to the part about how prions are nearly impossible to kill by any of the usual disinfecting methods and can be passed on by contaminated dental instruments….

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Join the Insect Army!

As I said over at Mr. Scalzi’s blog, I want to be either a trilobite (the Ute Native Americans of Utah used to wear them as amulets against disease and bullets and called them pachavee (little water bug) according to Wikipedia) or a 7-spotted ladybird, which is the state insect of Ohio. That’s right, we got a state insect! And a state fossil, which is the trilobite appropriately enough.

Whatever

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

Heh heh heh.

I realize, of course, that the person who wrote the comment above meant “insect” as an insult. But what do we know about insects? They are numerous, adaptable, highly successful as a class, and, when they put their mind to it, absolutely unstoppable. No wonder this person seems absolutely terrified.

As it happens, I have for a long time said that there are three types of writers: dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches. Dinosaurs are the writers…

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AROW80 Check-In Post for 2/16/14

A very, very quick update due to it being nearly 0630 and I am exhausted.

1. Chapter Thirteen of Defcon: Fade Out is DONE! And Fourteen is underway! I’m largely rewriting an old draft and adding in things.

2. I have a sneaking suspicion that Defcon: Fade Out is going to be longer than the original 20 chapters I expected it to be. I’ve already realized that there’s at least a scene and at most an entire chapter that hasn’t been written and needs to be.

3. I’ve definitely got to make a dentist appointment this week because I’ve found a ginormous cavity in one of my back teeth. Luckily, I can still chew and all but yeah…that tooth needs some looking at.

A special thanks to everybody who commented on my WIPpet Wednesday this week — and an apology for not setting up the scene better! Next time, I will do better about that!

Hope everybody had a great week and will have a great week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

The Liebster Award

 

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Tonette dela Luna was kind enough to give me a Liebster Award for my “sheer magnitude of awesymmetry” and I am now getting around to posting about this award with all do apologies to her for taking this long to get around to doing so. I do appreciate it

The rules for the award — or at least this iteration of it — are thus:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you. — so, thank you to Tonette dela Luna
  2.  Answer the ten questions asked by aforementioned lovely person. — See below!
  3.  Nominate ten other awesome and lovely people. — Not done yet, but will get on it as soon as I finish #4
  4.  Send off ten questions you’d like them to ask you. — need to come up with some questions
  5. Let the nominees know how awesome they are by popping by their blog to inform them of their greatness. — To be completed!

TEN QUESTIONS BY ME (well, by Tonette dela Luna):

1) You. Dinner. Plus five guests. Alive or dead, real or fictional. Name them. Oh, and as a bonus, what’s on the menu?

The dinner would be at the Olives restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I’ve actually eaten there once and it was the most amazing experience ever and if I’m going to have a once in a lifetime meal, I’m having it there! Not sure what anyone else would be having, but I’ll be having a steak and their tempura green beans.

As for the guests, hooo…ok, my girlfriend is a given so I’m coming up with five other people in addition to her: Stanislav Petrov – because the guy saved the world and the least I can do is buy him a great dinner; Harriet Tubman – because she has been a hero of mine since I was a child; Bill Mauldin – because his Willie and Joe cartoons helped to teach me about the realities of war; Carol Burnett — because her variety show taught me so much about humor  and, to be utterly, utterly sappy, my dad who died when I was five and who I never got the chance to know.

2) You just won $1,000,000.00, tax free. First off, congrats. Question: what plans do you have for the money?

First and foremost, I’d pay off my debts which luckily would still leave a nice chunk of change left over, so I’d set up some savings for me and the girlfriend. Sadly, I don’t think a million would be enough for me to quit working but it might be enough for me to cut back some of my hours and would definitely be enough to build a cushion for the two of us.

I’d help out some friends of mine and set up a fund for my younger relatives (the ones who are basically under 21) to help them with their future plans – college, trade schools, etc.

Then, once that’s squared away, I’d make some donations to charities – Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, some local homeless shelters and to my hometown school district among others. Most likely in that case, I’d call up the school librarians and ask about their wishlists. And I’d likely make a nice dent in my wishlists as well.

3) Ever feel you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? Pick any point in history you feel you’d most likely fit in the best.

Oddly enough, not really? I like this time about the best – okay, so I don’t really have much in the way of experience with other times – but if I could go back to any one point in time, it’d probably be back to the Early Cambrian period to see trilobites.  Or go back to the Library of Alexandria with a wand scanner.

Oooh! Or, there was apparently this one battle during the Crusades where the European knights were mounted on stallions and the Arab/Muslim knights were mounted on mares and I once heard someone speculate that at least some of those mares were probably in heat and I think that would be a thing to see.

Ok, last choice: the day the Berlin Wall came down. I’d love to be in Berlin for that.

4) Do you believe in the paranormal? Care to share any inexplicable stories with the rest of us?

I’m a skeptic, so I think that what we call paranormal experiences can often be rationally explained…but I am also more than mildly superstitious about things.  For example, I knock on wood a lot – and I’ve even justified knocking on plastic because the oil that’s used to make plastic used to be trees and therefore is a kind of wood.

Though when I was in elementary school, my aunt and I did once see a UFO – as an adult, I think what we saw was a collection of several swarms of bees or other insects, which, while it isn’t aliens from outer space, is still pretty freaking awesome if you think about it.

5) Do you believe in fate, love at first sight, or coincidences? If yes, why? If no, why not?

Not sure about fate or love at first sight – I think they can happen but it’s probably pretty rare – but coincidences? Oh yeah, those happen all the time. They’re part of the weirdness that is our universe.

6) Do you believe we’re alone (or not alone) in the universe?

It depends – do I think that there is life in some form somewhere else out there in the infinite vastness that is the universe, then yes. There are too many planets out there that are similar enough to Earth — not to mention, the discovery of extremophiles here on Earth tells us that Jurassic Park did get one thing right — Life Will Find A Way.

Now, do I think that they are buzzing our planet and that they made a secret deal with Eisenhower back in the 1950s or that we have their technology hidden away in Area 51, no. Mainly because I don’t think that the US government could keep something that huge a secret.

7) If you were offered a seat on one of the first spacecraft excursions they’ve got planned, would you go? Why or why not?

Ooooh…I don’t know. I’d want to go, god knows I’d want to go. I mean, it’s space! Bit I have a bad feeling that I wouldn’t do so well in space.

8) Have you ever done or said something you regret, only to take it back and make things worse? (Uh, no. I’m not asking leading questions that might potentially albeit anonymously find their way into one of my books because, really, that would be wrong, but seriously, inquiring minds want to know, right?)

Oh yes, yes I have.  And that’s all I’ll say on the subject, oh questing author!

9) What is one thing you regret NOT doing or saying, and to whom?

I regret not calling my maternal grandmother more before she passed away.

10) What did you have for breakfast this morning (or the morning you read this question)?

Chinese food! Egg drop soup, General Tso’s chicken, sesame balls and crab Rangoon (I work late 2nd/early 3rd shift, so I’m usually waking up around 3 in the afternoon and therefore breakfast is often made up of lunch foods).

 

WIPpet Wednesday for 2/12/2014

In honor of finishing the evil Chapter Twelve of Defcon: Fade Out, I give you the beginning of the infamous ham radio conversation. (12th Chapter for the 12th of the month! — also 2+1+2+2+0+1+4 =12):

With that, Gina turned back to her radio set and pulled on her headset as she twisted a dial, tuning in a frequency. Joseph and Sadie covered their ears at the screech and squawk of static. 

“Hello, CQ, CQ, CQ, this is WA8EK, that’s Whiskey, Alfa, eight, Echo Kilo.” Gina repeated the greeting and her call sign twice more, before continuing.  “This is Whiskey Alfa eight Echo Kilo, standing by for a response.  Repeating, WA8EK standing by for a response.”

After a few minutes, which seemed to drag on forever, — especially for Sadie who practically danced with nervous anticipation — a voice came back over the line. 

“Hello, WA8EK, this is WA8PP.” The voice also spelled out his call sign phonetically and repeated his greeting twice more as Gina had done. “You are coming in five by five, this is Cecil.” He phonetically spelled his name, then repeated it. “Thank you for contacting Town Crier Messenger Service, where your words move at the speed of our feet! How can I help you today?”

# # # # #

WIPpet Wednesday was begun by  K. L. Schwengel.  If you want to participate, post a snippet from your WIP, related in some way to the date and link back to here — where you can also read and comment on others’ excerpts.

 

AROW80 Check-In for February 12, 2014

CHAPTER TWELVE IS DONE! REPEAT: I HAVE FINISHED CHAPTER TWELVE AND AM NOW ON CHAPTER THIRTEEN! Let there be cake and celebrations throughout the lands! And feel free to substitute ‘cake’ for whatever nummy food you prefer. I am magnanimous in my victory!

Went out to eat on Monday and heard, for I think the first time in my life, people actually chanting ‘USA! USA!” (we were eating at a sports bar and the Olympics, among other sporting events, was on).  What was amusing to me was the fact they were cheering on the American team in curling — which is not the sort of sport I would have pegged people who would chant ‘USA, USA!” as backing but good on ’em for supporting a non-mainstream sport.

To me, curling looks like a lot of fun, but I have a thing about ice.  Or, more correctly, I have a thing about falling on the ice.  And about falling in general, to be honest.

Previous Goals:

  • Personal Goals: I did not make a dentist appointment. I will do this soon.
  • Writing Goals:
    • Chapter Twelve of Defcon: Fade Out is done, as I have mentioned. And the first scene of Chapter Thirteen is also done, so booyeah!

Goals for This Week:

  • Finish Chapter Thirteen before the end of the week.
  • Pick up books at library — which may interfere with the above ‘finish Chapter Thirteen’ goal.
  • Noodle more on worldbuilding and some ideas I have for what may be the first book in the Defcon series.
  • Curse the snow unto the seventh generation. — I have a feeling that I will be doing this until about June, at this point. Though honestly, the snow is taking the blame for the cold weather in general. 
  • Work on being better about following my Twitter — still working on this.

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for February 9, 2014

What I have learned from Midsomer Murders: 

  1. Pillows should be regulated like handguns.
  2. NEVER EVER SAY “Oh, it’s you!” as this will get you murdered.  Apparently it is some kind of a signal that sparks murderous rage in people.
  3. People in Midsomer county really should be used to finding bodies by now. I mean, hasn’t everybody who lives there been murdered at some point?

Seriously though, I do like the show a lot, particularly for the fact that the folks in the show seem to be somewhat aware of just how crazy murderpants their county is.  Also, I like that the show can be dark without being gory.

Previous Goals:

  • Personal Goals: Still taking my meds; appointment with the dietitian is coming up and I’m going to make a dental appointment for myself this week.
  • Writing Goals: I hashed out the radio scene in Chapter Twelve! I basically used a mock conversation from a ham site as a template for the call signs and official bits of chatter and inserted my own dialogue. And also made things a bit more readable, since the mock conversation looked like this:

Hello CQ CQ CQ, this is G3YWX, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, CQ CQ CQ, this is G3YWX, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, CQ CQ CQ, this is G3YWX, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, and G3YWX, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray is standing by for a call.

G3YWX, Golf three Yankee Whisky Xray, this is G3QAB, Golf three Quebec Alpha Bravo, Golf three Quebec Alpha Bravo

Yeah, not the most enjoyable read, is it? I got around it by using phrasing like “She repeated the greeting three times” and “she spelled out Grandma’s name phonetically, pronouncing each letter carefully.” It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for now and that’s what I was after!

  • I chomped through my interlibrary loan books and found some good crunchy information that will be helpful. And also found some other sources that I want to look up because I am to books what Cookie Monster is to cookies.

Sea Is for Cookie

“Sea is for Cookie” by Put_It_All_On_Red based on The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Hokusai and, of course, Cookie Monster.

Goals for This Week:

  • Work on Chapter 12
  • Make some photocopies of some of my research materials before I return them.
  • Noodle more on worldbuilding and some ideas I have for what may be the first book in the Defcon series.
  • Curse the snow unto the seventh generation.
  • Work on being better about following my Twitter

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

Relogging: The cost of reading every book: We know their names

The cost of reading every book: We know their names.  — this article by slacktivist is about the founding of the Library of Congress and the origins of the books that helped begin that library and the all too real cost in human lives paid for those books.

From the article itself:

Elsewhere, I’ve seen it said that the last people who might have read everything were probably Thomas Jefferson (d. 1826) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (d. 1832). Whether that’s true of either I don’t know, but Jefferson certainly tried. Jefferson’s problem was that Virginia did not have a library that held every English book, so to read them all, he had to buy them all. That was expensive. It took more money than Jefferson had, so the acquisition of his vast personal library put him deep into debt.

That debt was part of the reason, or the excuse, Jefferson gave for never being able to afford the emancipation of his slaves — something he always said he wanted to do, yet somehow never quite got around to doing.

Insecure Writers’ Support Group Post for February 5, 2014

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

From this month’s main post:

 Every writer is at a different stage of the journey and no two paths are identical. We do have a few things in common though – we all fight insecurity and we all need support. We’re looking for guidance, encouragement, and answers to our questions. We can find all of that here online, through the IWSG postings, the Facebook group, and the resources on this website. […]What do you need help with today? 

Ham radios. Specifically, how to use a ham or shortwave or even a Citizen’s Band (CB) radio to contact someone else in another city.  In my current WIP, I have a character using a radio to contact someone else and I’m not sure how to go about it.   I know it probably doesn’t work like a telephone and I have done a bit of Googling so that I can at least write the scene I have in mind and move on to other things (with the caveat that I’ll clean the scene itself up during editing), but I still have a little voice nagging at the back of my head that I’m writing about something that I know nothing about and I shouldn’t be doing that and I need to go research and figure this out exactly so that the scene will be right, dangit!

Of course, if I listen to that little voice I would have to go out and get a shortwave radio operator’s license before I could come back and write a scene that is one small part of one chapter of a potentially twenty chapter book. The characters involved are minor characters and while the scene is important, it’s not because of the radio message. It’s because of something that gets said while the characters are talking before/during/after the sending of the message. So, yeah, while a shortwave radio operator’s license would be pretty freakin’ awesome to have, it’s a bit overkill-y for me to go get one. Particularly when I have access to Google, not to mention my local library and their interlibrary loan program (which is seriously so on beyond awesome, I am not kidding! I basically have access to libraries across my state!).

And this doesn’t take into consideration all the other research questions I have both big and small. For which I would, per the nagging little voice, have to go back to school and get multiple degrees, take dozens of courses to learn various skills and travel extensively and quite possibly be reincarnated half a dozen times in order to be really sure I got the details right.

I hate that little voice…

The upshot of all this is that research is important to me. I like having the facts straight when I’m writing because I feel that having the facts straight helps improve the fiction.  Yes, I say this as someone whose WIPs include worlds featuring third shift vampire hunters, a reverse-Batman private eye, atompunk space pirates vs. Cthulhu and a post-WWIII world with human/chimpanzee hybrids running around.  But, to me, bringing realism to ideas like this actually does help make them stronger because the realism provides sturdy hooks from which to stretch the string of disbelief, which is where the implausible/improbable/unlikely ideas are hung. If the hooks aren’t strong enough, the weight of the ideas will yank them off the walls of…uh…okay so the metaphor starts to break down a bit when you get to the walls but you get the idea.  If the hooks don’t hold, the weight of the ideas will pull them out of the wall and your reader out of the story.

So, I worry a lot about getting details right in my books/stories. I wrote a fanfic once and I literally spent more time trying to figure out the details of the setting than I did writing the story itself (hour and a half on research; about an hour on the story) – because if the setting wasn’t right, the story wouldn’t have been right, or at least not right to me. I read anecdotes like Heinlein taking three days to do the calculations for an orbit in one of his juveniles – something that ended up being two sentences of text or something like that – and think that is something to aspire to because even if the reader never sees the work that goes into the story, the story itself will show the care that was taken in crafting it.

On the other side, I worry about researching too much. Or, rather, to the point where I’m really just avoiding working on the story and indulging myself in gathering interesting facts and research materials like some sort of hybrid between a librarian and a dragon. Because oh my gosh is research fun or what? Especially now that I’ve discovered interlibrary loan. But there does come a point where the research has to stop and the story telling has to begin, otherwise what’s the point of doing the research? The problem is finding that point.

And on the third side, I worry about not doing the right sort of research. More correctly, about missing the unknown-unknown, the thing that not only don’t I know but the thing that I don’t know that I don’t know.  Like…well, I don’t know, do I? But the examples that come to mind are the kinds of stupid and/or offensive mistakes like details about guns or crime scenes  or anachronisms — not to mention logical errors and plot holes and other goofs that can derail a story.

Of course, Worry #3 can turn into Worry #2 and grows out of Worry #1 so really, these aren’t so much separate worries as they are all a part of the same big Worry Mobius Strip that never ends and cycles around and around and around while the annoying little voice yammers at me until I force myself to shut it out and pick up my pen and do my best to write down the ideas that are in my head while also keeping track of the things that I need to know in order to polish the ideas in my head into the story that’s hiding in the back of my head.

And it also helps to know that there are people I can go to for information and advice, both on-line and off.  I have a coworker who used to be a pathologist and I was able to ask her if a decapitated head would be put in its own body bag or simply put in the same bag as the rest of the body (she said separate bag). I can come on-line and find communities like IWSG as well as little_details or the Nanowrimo forums that are dedicated to answering questions.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

AROW80 Check-In for February 5, 2014

I want to go on record as saying that if I ever get my hands on that damn groundhog….I won’t do anything to him because I am a soft touch for all animals, even ones who have consigned me to fresh frozen hell AGAIN! And there’s more coming this weekend?! AUUUGH!!

Thankfully, there are thirteen seasons of Midsommer Murders on Netflix.

Previous Goals:

  • Personal Goals: I’ve been taking my meds as scheduled; haven’t been able to do much in the way of exercise because it freaking snowed again. I have been trying to watch my diet and eat less/eat better. This is made tricker by being stuck in the house thanks to the FREAKING SNOW THAT WILL NEVER STOP inclement weather that seems to be visiting us again, oh dear.
    • I did make a dental appointment, but it was for my girlfriend who had a tooth crack. Luckily, it didn’t split near the nerve and the dentist says that it can be fixed with a filling instead of a crown (which is a cost difference of about 800 bucks so, yay dentist!).
  • Writing Goals: I am briefly stalled on Chapter Twelve of Defcon: Fade Out, due to a research question. But, I did enough research tonight that I can fake my way through the scene and fix it in editing.
  • Speaking of research: I got another load of books through Interlibrary Loan, including Civil Defense Begins At Home by Laura McEnaney, which talks about American nuclear civil defense efforts in the 1950s and has a whole chapter about African Americans and civil defense which speaks to my interests! Wooot!

Goals for This Week:

  • Write up a post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group
  • Work on Chapter 12
  • Appease the snow gods, possibly by sacrificing a chocolate chip cookie to them. Well, the essence of chocolate chip cookie; the physical cookie I will eat so as to not muss the sacrificial area.
  • Shovel my sidewalk, for all the good it’s going to do.

Hope everybody who is in cold places is keeping warm and everyone in hot places is finding a way to keep cool.

Also: I’ve hit 50 posts! WHOOT!

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About That Coke Ad

Whatever

Dear every conservative getting his underwear in a twist about that Coca Cola Super Bowl commerical in which not only was the “deeply Christian patriotic anthem” sung in something other than the English that Jesus spoke, but also featured a gay couple being happy with their kid:

Dudes, you’re aware that Katharine Lee Bates, the writer of the song, was almost certainly a lesbian, right? And while undoubtedly Christian, Bates used her faith as a foundation for progressive social activism that would have given the conservatives of her time, and possibly some conservatives now, the shudders and shakes (she also nearly resigned her professorship at Wellesley when the school thought to force its faculty to profess their fealty to the Christian faith).

Bates was a pacifist with the dream of uniting people “from the Pacific to the Atlantic, around the other way… and that will include all the…

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The Devil’s In The Details II–Keep Research from Taking Over

Some good thoughts on research and writing from Kristen Lamb. You can read the first part here: The Devil’s in the Details — Taking Your Fiction to Higher Level

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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All right, we’ll do Research Part Duh, um Deux. Last time we talked about how research can take a book to the next level and I also vented about my personal bugaboos when it comes to guns. But here’s the thing, our target audience is likely to have bugaboos as well.

If we write military books, we want military people to like them. But, if we fail to research even basic stuff, we can turn them off. Same with thrillers, historical and even SCI-FI, etc.

Part of the reason for Star Trek’s success was that Roddenberry refused for ST technology to be made up willy-nilly. All technology and “science” had to be based around and grounded in some salient scientific theory….so you can thank Star Trek for automatic doors, cell phones, iPads, and science is still working on hot green women. Apparently there are only so many writers engineers…

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AROW80 Check-In for February 2, 2014

Ok, it’s Sunday again and that means I’m posting this before bed at Oh My God It’s Early again, so here’s the short and sweet spiel for Super Bowl Sunday!

Are  You Ready For Some Updates?:

Personal Stuff Wins the Toss:

  • Bad News First: Went to my doctor’s appointment and my A1C levels were not good. Basically, the A1C test gives you an idea of what your blood sugar levels are on average.  As with anything relating to blood sugar, the lower the numbers, the better. Golf scores, not bowling.  On my last A1C, the level was 7.2 which is damn close to normal; this time, it was 9.2 which isn’t near normal at all.
  • Good News Second: I’ve got an appointment with a dietician to talk about changes I can make in my diet to go along with my medication.  Also, I’m making plans to get more exercise which, when combined with diet and medication should help me get that score down.

Writing Stuff Does…Something Else Football-ish:

    • I have FINALLY WORKED on Chapter Twelve of Defcon: Fade Out.  I finished a scene tonight and plotted out the next scene.
    • But Wait! There’s More!: I’ve also plotted out Chapters Thirteen, Fourteen and Fifteen! I’m planning on the book being at least twenty chapters long, so I’m on the downhill slope! WHOOT!

Plans for the Week:

  • Finish Chapter Twelve, start on Chapter Thirteen
  • Make dental appointment to see about toothache.
  • Pick up books from Interlibrary Loan at library.
  • Check in with folks

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!