Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Science of the Week, 5/22/15

(This obviously wasn't supposed to be posted until Friday. I originally had it scheduled then, but the setting must have changed during editing. Apologies for that.)

Happy Memorial Day weekend to those of you who celebrate it! I'll be at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin this weekend. I'll be reading from Scattered Seasons Saturday afternoon along with other members of Broad Universe in a rapid-fire reading, and I'll be participating in the Sign Out Monday morning. Along the way I'll help out at the Broad Universe table and party, see friends, and attend panels. There will be a more detailed report next week.

In the meantime, here are some of the most interest science news articles I read this week:

A proven approach to helping the ultra-poor

Translating thought to print with spider silk

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

Personal microbiomes shown to contain unique "fingerprints"

Nano memory cell can mimic the brain's long-term memory

Photonic computing at the speed of light












Take Off Your Pants!

The title doesn't refer to clothing, but to a writing method of working without a plan, more commonly known as "pantsing," for writing by the seat of your pants. I tend to write like this myself, but this often means it takes several drafts for me to come up with a workable plot. That said, I've tried outlining before but haven't been very effective with it. Writing projects more quickly and with fewer drafts would allow me to increase my output (which is important for indie authors who want to earn a living) and take care of all the projects I have in mind but don't have the time for. So I thought I'd read Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker. She says in the beginning of this book she was able to write a complete book in three weeks with this method. I don't think I could manage that with a day job and a school-age son, but I'd like not to take months or even years either.

In my previous attempts at outlining, I always started at the beginning of the book and listed the main events of the plot in order. Hawker takes a different approach by first focusing on the emotional journey of the main character. According to her, the point of the story is the main character's personal growth as she learns to overcome a flaw. So, with Hawker's approach, you would first develop the main character, the weakness she must face, and the external goal that will force her to grow. From there, you would develop other characters, the theme, and a couple other aspects of the story. Finally, you would come up with the events of the story, using the Hero's Journey as a template. Another key part of plotting is pacing, and Hawker describes a technique to keep readers hooked.

There are a few things about Hawker's method that I didn't agree with. Some stories and genres don't seem to focus on character growth. For example, the detective in a mystery series, like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, doesn't develop much, if at all, over the story. This type of story focuses in ideas, not characters. Also, Hawker states that an antagonist typically wants the same goal as the protagonist, as if they're competing for a prize. I don't think that's always the case. Nonetheless, she's more experienced at outlining than I certainly am. Even though I'm already halfway through Chaos Season, I'm going to try this method to develop the second half of the novel and plan the parts in the first section that need changing. At the same time, I'll also work on outlines for the final two books in the series, Fifth Season and Summon the Seasons. This will be tricky, as a different Avatar is the main character of each book, yet some characters will continue to develop after "their" book is over. Good thing Hawker's method can be used for books with multiple main characters too.

For the writers out there, do you plot or pants? If you plot, what do you think of Hawker's method? Readers, do you feel character growth is always more important than action? Why or why not?


Monday, May 18, 2015

Three Stuffed Animals Visit the Field Museum

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you may already be familiar with Stan, Rex, and Oscar, three stuffed animals we bring with us on trips, photograph in unusual locations, and give funny lines. Oscar, the orca, is the oldest; we got him on our honeymoon when we started this tradition. Stan (the green T-rex) and Rex (the brachiosaurus) were adopted from the Field Museum for Alex. The three stuffed animals got to come with us to Members' Night at the Field Museum, and they had a blast (or should I say we had a blast with them.) Here are a few highlights:

 Stan: "I am Stan, the God of carnivores! Hear me roar."

Rex: "Should we bow?"

Oscar: "Are you kidding? He's got a big enough head as it is!"



 Stan: "What? How could it go on without us?"

Rex: "It probably wasn't as fun."














Oscar: "Yes, I am a prime example!" 














  Stan: "NOT funny!"

Rex: "Not funny at all!"

Stan: Murderers!
Rex: Wrong meteorites, Stan.









Stan: Recognize anyone?
Rex: Nope.
 Stan "Hey! This wasn't on the agenda today!"

Oscar & Rex (laughter off screen)




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

SF Women A-Z Now Live!

If you missed any of my posts during the A-Z Blogathon, now's your chance to catch up. I've compiled and reorganized my posts, added more authors, and formatted and re-formatted everything in triplicate. I had to do three separate versions--an eBook with a full set of links (including Amazon), an eBook without the Amazon links, and a paper copy without links. Trying to keep the text consistent among all of those versions was a big pain, and iBooks kept rejecting my book no matter how many links I removed. But all three versions are now live! Here are the links:

Amazon (US)

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Scribd

Inktera

Createspace

I just published it to Google last night, so I'll update when I have the link for that too.

I had to set the eBook price to $0.99 on Amazon, but everywhere else it's free. Please feel free to report the lower price. I figure the book will gain more visibility that way. Also, please keep your fingers crossed that I get the paper copies in time for WisCon next week. They should arrive the day before I leave.











Sunday, May 10, 2015

Showcase: The Stone of the Tenth Realm



The Stone of the Tenth Realm
The Realms Trilogy, #1
Author: Eva Gordon
Release Date: April 15, 2015
Publisher: Eva Gordon
Link to publisher's page: http://www.ravenauthor.com
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count in Print: 523
ISBN: 9781513016856

Snippet: Epic Fantasy. The Stone of the Tenth Realm, the story of a young woman who escapes a Nazi concentration camp and stumbles into a parallel world.
 

Book Synopsis:
Sophie Katz, a Jewish chemistry student, harrowingly escapes a Nazi concentration camp. By way of Prague and with the help of a golem and a magic stone, she is transported into the Tenth Realm, a magical dimension that parallels the world she left behind.
Logan MacLeod, a Scottish warrior, hunted for a crime he did not mean to commit, flees to the Bestiary, a forest so dangerous no man dares enter. Drawn by the haunting sound of his bagpipes, Sophie and Logan meet.
Even as love ensues, the dark evil of the Third Reich threatens the Tenth Realm, led by Gustaf Hissler, Adolph Hitler’s doppelganger.
Together they must join the forces against Hissler in the Tenth Realm and help stop Hitler from world domination in Sophie’s realm. Will they be able to stop the Third Reich before its evil conquers all of the realms?





Buy Links:

 
 
About the Author

Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series lined up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.
Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. When not in her den writing, she can be found teaching animal lore at writing conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure.

Follow Eva Gordon:

     
     



Wednesday, May 06, 2015

ISWG: Too Many Projects!

Last month, my blogging time was taken up by the SF Women A-Z project and getting Scattered Seasons ready for release. But even though late April-late May is my favorite time of the year due to all of the flowers in bloom, I won't have much time to enjoy them. Here are the projects, both personal and writing-related, that will continue to keep me busy this month.

WisCon--I will be moderating the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading Saturday afternoon, helping out (if needed) at the Broad Universe party Sunday night, and participating in the Sign Out Monday morning. I'll also be working at the Broad Universe table for at least one shift, maybe more if necessary. I've already ordered new bookmarks to give out and copies of Scattered Seasons to sell; I'll order more books once I get them updated. While I don't have to study up on a subject for a panel, I do need to prepare introductions for the Broad Universe readers and make sure flyers are available.

Alex's Birthday Party--My son's birthday is at the end of the month, the weekend after WisCon. This year he wants a laser tag party. I've already got that booked and the invitations sent out. Since it won't be at home, all I need to do is order a cake and prepare goodie bags.

Writing Projects--I'd really like to bring SF Women A-Z: A Reader's Guide to WisCon. Hopefully, there will be enough time to order both a paper proof and the actual copies before the convention; I may have to rush shipping.

Chaos Season is about 40,000 words, or about halfway through. I'd like to finish the first draft by the end of June, which is doable if I can average about 1,000 words a day. Of course, with my other projects, that may not always be possible.

Once I finish the draft of Chaos Season, I need to put it aside for a while and work on some short stories. There's "The Unnumbered World" from the Catalyst Chronicles series and featuring a minor character, Julia, as she and her father adapt to a new life; Young Seasons, a collection of four short stories about the Season Avatars from Scattered Seasons; and two other short stories I'd like to include in a fantasy short story collection at some point. And then when those are all done and Chaos Season finished, I still have more long-term projects, such as one more novel in the Catalyst Chronicles and two in the Season Avatars series, to complete. Guess I don't have to worry about running out of writing projects any time soon.

Now that Scattered Seasons is out, I need to update my website with buy links. I also need to start making better use of my mailing list. Hopefully I can convince a few more people to join it at Wiscon.

Another thing I want to do is set up an account with IngramSpark to distribute paper copies of my books. That will give me a better chance of actually getting them into bookstores. However, I think I need to assign the books new ISBNs since I got the original ones through CreateSpace. I need to set up the books with IngramSpark this month if I want to take advantage of a special. Fun, fun, fun...

Other--As I mentioned Monday, we want to turn the playroom into a Lego Star Wars display, but first we have to repaint and get shelves. Then I'd really like to hold a garage sale this summer to clean out all the old stuff in the basement. I don't know if we'll get raised garden beds this year, but I would like to get a few things planted. Plus, my husband and I also have to assemble Star Wars costumes if we want to join the 501st.

How will I ever cope with all this? Well, I do have a new bike, so I've been going for rides in the morning. I've only done it on weekends so far, but at least I do get to go out and enjoy the flowers briefly. I also took a couple days vacation to work on things and take some time with friends and family.

As far as juggling it all, it's a matter of setting priorities and realizing not everything will get done immediately or be done perfectly. But I'm a working mother, so I'm used to that.

Oh, and the costume I plan to use for the 501st is a Jawa. No one guessed it.

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