Monday, October 12, 2015

Facts for Fiction: Life on the Edge

I'm in the middle of reading Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. Life obviously takes place on a scale well above where you think quantum effects (such as electron tunneling) would take place. However, many chemical reactions vital for life require quantum effects to work. For example, the book starts off discussing how migrating robins sense the magnetic field of the earth to determine where they are in relation to the equator. The molecules robins use to sense the magnetic field depend on quantum entanglement to work. Quantum effects also play a effect on the sense of smell, DNA replication, and possibly even consciousness. If you're not familiar with quantum mechanics, don't worry; the author explains the concepts involved in each chapter. Quantum biology is a relatively new field. Although the mechanisms discussed in this book may seem too mundane to be worthy topics of speculative fiction, the book may still be useful for writers. (Unfortunately, living beings contain so many particles that as a whole, it would be nearly impossible to put all of them into a quantum state at once. I do play with this idea somewhat in Twinned Universes, so in the next story, I may have to tweak how the quantum quirk works.) If you like both physics and biology, you'll like this book.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Science of the Week, 10/9/15

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

New fossils intensify mystery of short-lived toothy oddball
(odd enough to make a good fantasy creature)

Ancient rocks record first evidence for photosynthesis that made oxygen
(from UW-Madison scientists!)

Many atolls may be uninhabitable within decades due to climate change

Flame retardant breakthrough is naturally derived and non-toxic

Long-term contraception in a single shot

Researchers discover clues on how giraffe neck evolved

Bio-inspired robotic finger looks, feels, and works like the real thing

Lab-grown 3-D intestine regenerates gut lining in dogs

room temp skyrmions, a new type of digital memory?

Today would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday. I doubt I'll be able to do much to commemorate the occasion, but here's a video of one of my favorite songs of his:

Also, tomorrow is Star Wars Reads Day. When my son was first learning to read on his own, it was difficult finding books at his reading level that he liked. Fortunately, he was just getting into Star Wars at that time, and there are a lot of Star Wars books for young readers out there. So check out your local bookstore or library and see if they have some activities planned for your favorite Younglings. After all, every Jawa knows books are the biggest "utinni," or treasure. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

IWSG: Making the Most of Short Writing Sessions

It's time again for another Insecure Writers Support Group post. You can find the sign-up and the linky here.

These days, I seldom have the luxury of a long writing session. (Unless my husband and son go somewhere without me or if I take time off of work.) I typically either write on my lunch hour or after my son goes to bed. Typically, I also have other things to do during this time, and sometimes I let myself get distracted by something I find online. That makes it hard to get into the zone of thinking about your story, let alone make your word count. How do you handle it?

What I've found that works for me is to have an idea of what I want to do in that scene. I've never taken well to outlining an entire book, but I can manage to plan a scene in advance. Sometimes I leave myself notes at the end of a writing session so I remember where to pick up later. Other times I can plan it in my head and retrieve it during the writing session. Sometimes setting myself a word challenge for the session works, but all too often I allow myself to get distracted.

In order to make the most of writing sessions, you have to recognize opportunities when they present themselves. I carry a netbook in my purse, so if I'm waiting somewhere, I can take out my netbook and write. I even write while I'm on the road with my family--as long as my husband is driving, of course!

How do you make the most out of your writing sessions? Please leave your answer in the comments.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Four Years of Lyon's Legacy and Being Indie

Tomorrow marks the four anniversary of Lyon's Legacy's publication. That also means it's been four years since I've officially become an indie author. I'm no longer a newbie, yet I still have a lot to learn about writing craft (or rather, writing what readers want),
the dreaded marketing, and managing other aspects of writing business. I admit I have fewer books out at this point than I thought I would. It's humbling seeing all the other works and writers out there, especially when they seem to be doing better than you. However, Hugh Howey wrote a blog post some time ago about how there will always be writers in front of us and writers behind us. It's important to keep that in mind, to enjoy the journey, and to help other writers when I can.

I still enjoy having the freedom to decide when a book is ready to publish. I'm grateful I can pick which editors and cover artists I work with. I can continue to promote my backlist whenever I want, and I keep a much larger share of sales than I could otherwise. As an indie, I can publish a novella in paperback and even audio, something most traditional publishers might not bother with. Every work I publish brings me closer to my goals.

I don't have any special promotions planned for tomorrow, as I want to put more work out in the Catalyst Chronicles series before promoting it. Of course, Lyon's Legacy is still permafree, so feel free to pick up a copy if you haven't done so already. In the meantime, there's more stories to write.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Science of the Week--10/2/15

Welcome to October! Are you ready for Christmas yet, let alone Halloween?

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

NASA confirms evidence that liquid water flows on today's Mars
(of course I had to lead with this one, but there's a caveat below)

We've found liquid water flowing on Mars, but we're not allowed to investigate it
We emit clouds of microbes wherever we go

The 3D printer so big it can make houses

Engineered viruses could combat human disease, improve food safety

I've got your back--fishes really do look after their mates!

New theory of stealth dark matter may explain universe's missing mass

New precise particle measurement improves subatomic tool for probing mysteries of universe

Wearable electronic health patches may now be cheaper and easier to make

Hopes of improved brain implants

A natural light switch: the protein behind a light-sensing mechanism

Turning off the infanticide instinct

Scientists unravel root cause of plant twists and turns

Making batteries with portabello mushrooms

Manmade aerosols can alter rainfall in the world's most populous region

Cryogenic system freezes up to 99% of CO2 emissions from coal power plant so carbon can be stored, potentially repurposed
(I like the idea of being able to reuse the carbon later--trapping it forever in an inaccessible will lead to other problems down the road. Of course, we have to live long enough to reach that point.)

Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to mounting waste
(perhaps sometime in the future we'll have a plastic-based ecosystem)

Asteroids found to be the moon's main water supply

Have a good weekend, everyone, and see you Monday!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September/October Goals

I had four writing goals for the month of September:

1. Get to 30,000 words in Fifth Season.
2. Outline the current draft of Chaos Season (it may seem strange outlining after the first draft, but I need to get an overview of the book so I can plan the developmental edit.)
3. Edit the first 3-4 chapter of Chaos Season.
4. Finish the rough drafts of the short stories for my Young Seasons collection.

I did manage to finish items 1 and 2, and started 3 and 4. However, I didn't get very far with them. My productivity has been dragging this month. It's probably a case of trying to do too much on too little sleep. (OK, a new Facebook game didn't help either.) So for October, I'm going to focus on just Chaos Season and Fifith Season. I'm over 32,000 words for Fifth Season, so I'm going to shoot for at least 45,000 words in that while I edit 3-4 chapters of Chaos Season.

In addition to the books, I have several other goals for October. My family and I plan on several appearances with the 501st on the weekends. We plan to see our friends in Madison for our annual get-together. I have to help Alex with a book report on top of his homework, plus take him to taekwando and archery classes. (Eugene and I will be part of the archery class as well.) And on top of all this I have to figure out how to make Alex's Halloween costume (he wants something very specific based on a documentary he's seen.) Who knows how much of this I'll manage to accomplish? For now, my first goal is to go to bed early and try to shake my sore throat before it gets worse.

How often do you meet your own goals? Do you ever feel you plan too much?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Justice for All (The Outcast Book #1)

Pat Dilloway has a new book coming out tomorrow, and I wanted to share the book information with you. I like the blue tone of the cover!

Justice for All (The Outcast Book #1)

Robin Howe was a normal teenager until her police captain father is killed by henchmen of the evil Madame Crimson. When the justice system won't take any action to avenge her father, Robin takes it upon herself. Except her first attempt leaves her nearly dead and with Madame Crimson's people on her tail.

To protect Robin, her father’s former partner gives her a new identity that sends her to St. Martha’s Academy for Young Ladies in rural New Hampshire. There she tries to keep a low profile, which isn’t easy when Madame Crimson’s spoiled daughter Tonya takes a special interest in making Robin’s life there a living hell. Yet when a rival gangster tries to kidnap Tonya, Robin has to embrace her heroic destiny.

Buy the ebook for $3.99 here ( or the paperback for $12.99 from Createspace (

Author bio:
Patrick "P.T." Dilloway has been a writer for most of his life. He completed his first story in third grade and received an 'A' for the assignment. Around that time, he was also placed in a local writing contest for a television station, receiving an action figure in lieu of a trophy, thus securing his love with the written word. Since then, he's continued to spend most of his free time writing and editing. In the last twenty years, he's completed nearly forty novels of various genres. When not writing, P.T. enjoys reading and photographing Michigan's many lighthouses. In order to pay the bills, he earned an accounting degree from Saginaw Valley State University in 2000 and for twelve years worked as a payroll accountant in Detroit.

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