Link-a-bet Soup

Some great reading I’ve been doing lately that’s really made me think.

Freedom not to choose is a faith worth believing in – discussion of Britain as a state-religion-less society. Not sure I agree 100% (I mean, their anthem is still literally God Save The Queen), but it’s definitely an interesting concept.

Welcome to The Matrix: You Work for FREE & There IS No Payday – For writers, the first in a series of posts about why working for ‘exposure’ is madness, unless you’re in control of said exposure. Some nuggets in here even for people who think they already have a handle on the concept of exposure.

Hundreds of mysterious stone ‘gate’s found in Saudi Arabia’s desert – Google Earth reveals structures some 2000 – 9000 years old, and we basically have no idea at this point what they were used for. IDK about you, but this smacks of plot bunnies to me πŸ˜‰

Book Review for All The Crooked Saints – I’m hanging out to read this one since Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite authors, but I want to wait until I have guaranteed uninterrupted time – which means it might not be for another 5 weeks when school lets out. In the meantime, I’m satiating myself with reviews.

Has the Smart-Phone Destroyed A Generation? – a long read but definitely interesting. A balanced discussion of the psychological effects, both positive and negative, that we are seeing in the rising generations who have been born essentially with a smart screen in their hands.

Pricing Silliness and Learning A Lesson – another one for authors on how pricing seems to be working in 2017, which is quite a bit different to how it worked three years ago. This one has prompted a revamp of Inkprint Press’s pricing policies, which is good for you guys, because many of my paperbacks are now significantly cheaper πŸ˜‰

What have you been reading lately? Feel free to leave books or articles or anything you recommend in the comments! πŸ™‚

Diagnosing Vitamin Deficiencies Through Your Tears!

So this is really cool! Scientists are developing ways to diagnose vitamin deficiencies through your tears! They are especially focused on children, for whom vitamin deficiencies can have a significant negative impact on their growth and development. Also of interest is a way to test quickly, simply, and easily long before physical symptoms manifest, because if you can catch the deficiency when it’s still moderate and before physical symptoms have occurred, obviously you can get better health outcomes for the patients.

Anyway, totally random, but it’s Friday, my brain is melting a little from being back in full-time work, and I thought it was super cool :o)

Be An Inky Awards Judge!

In recognition of the fact that there are potentially a decent handful of teens who occasionally peruse this blog, if you are Australian an aged 12 – 20, and have time to read 20 books in 3 months, you should totally consider applying to be an Inky Awards judge this year! The judging period begins in May, applications to be a judge are open now, and you can find all the details on how to apply right here.

Happy reading! :o)

On Prepping for NaNoWriMo (And Novel-Writing Generally)

The twinny one, Liana Brooks, has an awesome article up on the Critique Circle blog about prepping for NaNoWriMo. Somewhat conveniently, it’s also generally applicable to writing a novel, and is more or less something like the process she and I actually follow when plotting novels. Definitely worth a read, particularly if you’re a writer who struggles through the Dreaded Middles. The link again. Go read. You won’t be sorry. πŸ™‚

FGU Outtakes: 9 Awesome World Things You Should Know About

This time, a happier post.

Most of you should be aware by now that I have been busily beavering away on FGU, or From The Ground Up as it’s more properly know. If not, you’re either new, or have been tuning me out with remarkable efficacy πŸ˜› In the first instance, HI WELCOME NICE TO MEET YOU!! And in the second, it’s safe to come out again now: THE BOOK IS DONE.

Oh my gosh, the book is DONE. SO. MUCH. RELIEF. Mostly from my editor, who, when I blew my second deadline, was I’m pretty sure determined I was never going to finish. Sorry. *cookies for editor*. I got it in before the hard deadline. That’s a good thing, right? O:)

But anyway, long-story-short, I’ve spent the last year doing all sorts of research for FGU, and a lot of it didn’t end up fitting into the book. So for your daily dose of random today, Awesome Things I Learned While Writing FGU That You Should Learn Too! *o/*

1) There are social spiders. These spiders live in colonies that have two distinct roles: the warriors/food trappers, and the nurturers/offspring rearers. Shockingly enough, these spiders have the whole anti-discrim thing a lot more down-pat than humans do: every spider chooses its occupation, warrior or nurturer, based on its personality. You guys. That’s just seriously COOL.

2) Swarming has long been a source of bafflement, for scientists and anyone else who bothered to stop and think about it: How do all these individual creatures know where they’re going? How do they change directions so suddenly and all together? How do they determine when to swarm? Why do they swarm? WHAT IS THIS MYSTICAL SENSE? Turns out that the answer, at least in locusts, is to avoid cannibalism. Don’t believe me? This article explains it perfectly.

3) On a similar note, collectives of individuals often display this thing called ‘collective intelligence’ – the group as a whole is more intelligent than the individuals it contains (yes, this is a Thing, despite humanity often proving the opposite, that a group of people can be a whole lot stupider than its individuals :P). Schooling fish demonstrate this by a school’s ability to seek out shade, even though individual fish are really, really BAD at being able to get from areas of light to areas of dark.

4) If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you’ll have heard me freak out a couple of times that fungi are really just brainless insects with an external digestive system. (True facts. Fungi have waaay more in common with insects than plants. Oh the terror.) Well, it turns out that when you combine certain species of fungi with certain species of leaf-cutter ants, you get… a cow? Well, not actually a cow, but together the two totally separate species work together to mimic the digestive processes of a cow and its saliva/host of enzymes and bacteria. The ants literally use the fungus as their external digestive system, and the fungus uses the ants as saliva. BIZARRE.

5) Hexaflexagons. I have no words. Just… go watch the short video clip already.

6)Β Allow me to introduce you to the Anternet. Yep, scientists have discovered that behaviours ant colonies demonstrate (particularly when it comes to showing restraint in their gathering behaviours) are remarkably similar to internet protocols. Can humans think of nothing for themselves? πŸ˜€

7) One of the most exciting things for me was learning about all the things we still don’t have an answer to. It’s so easy, in our contemporary society, to assume that we have all the answers; that everything there is to be discovered has been; that there’s nothing new left in the world – or the universe. Happily, this is very untrue, and so: 13 things we still have basically no clue about.

8) You’ve probably heard theories that the Earth is close to carrying capacity, and that we’re going to run out of room. Well, I’ve got some good news for you: the population of the Earth is expected to stabilise as early as the middle of this century. Take a look at what the break down is expected to be.

9) And a reminder that was timely at some points during the writing process: Sleep is a Competitive Advantage. Get more of it.

Are We Self-Censoring Our Way To Dystopia?

So, this is a lesson I conducted for my seniors literally just now, and it was awesome and thinky and I wanted to share πŸ™‚ We are studying the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and in that context we are looking at the idea of censorship. You don’t have to have read the novel to get the below; the first video gives a nice summary of the high points, though the presenter speaks very fast, so I recommend doing what I did with the class and watching it twice if you’re not familiar with the novel.

Essentially the point is this: In the novel, books are banned, to the point where firemen no longer put out fires, they start them – for the sole and exclusive purpose of burning books, and sometimes the houses wherein they are contained, and sometimes the people who refuse to leave them to burn alone. Instead of books, people ‘connect’ via wall-sized screens, spending their days watching glorified soaps – alone or with others, it doesn’t really seem to make much of a difference. Much is made, in the novel, of the fact that the government enforces this regime for its own benefit – but the line that slips by at the time, only to stick in your mind and later bring everything into startling clarity, is this:

β€œIt didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.”

The censorship started with the people. They literally censored themselves stupid. And I wonder – and many other wonder… Are we doing the same thing right now?

Nine Things

Because I have found Fun Things recently, and if you really expect me to write a thinky post between Christmas and New Year’s, you’re madder than I am.

1) Nine traits of creative people. This is, somewhat surprisingly, a very insightful article that made me sit back, smiling, and give the happy sigh of the Understood.

2) Photos from the 18 & 1900s of various dog breeds. While some pics demonstrate the sad lengths that breeders will go to, I feel somewhat vindicated by the fact that Labradors look very similar, then and now. Moral of the story: the more quinessentially DOG your dog looks, the more likely it is to be hereditarily health. #AmyWisdom.

3) Yoga for Handstands. Pics of the various yoga poses you can practise to help you learn how to do a handstand. New Year’s Resolution #1: learn to do handstand.

4) The Curiosities. A collection of short stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff, with random, illuminating, and sometimes hilarious annotations by the authors. Hands down THE BEST short story anthology I have ever read to date.

5) The Midnight Rainbow. A pretty, pretty, PRETTY book full of hope and imagination and the real, genuine magic that only comes from the mind of a five-year-old. You’d think a story narrated by a 5-yr-old girl would be simple; you’d be wrong. You’d think a story about a mother suffering postnatal depression after a stillbirth would be horribly, horribly sad; you’d be wrong. You’d think a story about night rainbows would be fantasy; you’d be wrong. You’d think that, because it’s not fantasy, there would be no magic; YOU WOULD BE WRONG*. This is the most beautiful, quirky, hopeful book I have read in a very, very long time. Also one of the most genuine. Please go read it now.

* Although if you are defining ‘magic’ narrowly as ‘supernatural occurences and the like’, then yes, you would be right. Not wrong. Moving on.

6) Paying for People’s Drive-Thru. Because there are people out there who know how to be Decent Human Beings, and we should celebrate them.

7) The Art of Oversharing, by Fizzy Grrl, because Important.

8) Earth’s poles are shifting due to climate change. Trufax. New Scientist said it so. /nodnod. One day, I could live in the NORTHERN hemisphere, y’all!!!*

* Without moving out of country. Obviously I could live in the northern hemisphere if I emigrated to, say, Russia.

9) And last but not least, if you haven’t seen the silent monks singing the Hallelujah Chorus, you’re in for a treat. Hurrah! πŸ™‚

 

So there you go. 9 things, just for you. Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season :o) *cookies*

Link-a-Bet Soup ;)

Wow, it’s been forever since I did a link-a-bet. I think maybe not since the blog lived on Blogger! o.O But anyway, tonight: a selection of Things I Have Found.

 

First of all, I am tremendously excited. My writing – I hesitate to say idol, because in my social context that’s a no-no, but you know what I mean πŸ˜› The writer I admire most in the entire world and who I want to BE when I grow up answered an oddly stupid question from me on her Tumblr. Behold, Maggie Stiefvater on whether or not a writing career is fun.

Also in writing-related things, this highly awesome graphic of The Story Coaster (if a book was a roller coaster)! πŸ˜€

In non-writing-related things, this stunningly beautiful post on “What I Won’t Tell You About My Ballet-Dancing Son” prompted a tear or two.

And in popular news, Elizabeth Esther says it best: Miley Cyrus. How predictable of you. She also has wise words about the importance of moderation in parenting, as in all things, reminding us that Princess Excess is just the other side of the Princess Banning coin.

Sarah Bessey agrees: maybe Barbies aren’t so evil after all. πŸ™‚ I’m really feeling these ones. I grew up with Barbies, as well as copious dogs and horses (especially Puppy in my Pockets! The originals, not the scary modern onesΒ [website music warning].), a few dolls that my sister loved and I ignored, a million billion and a half stuff animals, home-made marble mazes, lego houses, books, trampolines, drawing pencils, and more. The Barbies were just one facet of play – exactly how any of these things ought to be. Moderation. Not just for assessment!*

*(Sorry, that was a bad joke only Canberra college [yr 11/12] teachers will get.)

And speaking of teachers, Twitter is the newest ThingΒ for us; have you heard? πŸ˜‰

And finally, should you happen to be a) a teen or teen-at-heart, b) in Canberra the first week of October, and c) at a loose end for entertainment, I have recently discovered that the second (there was a first?!) Festival of Australian Children’s Literature will be on sporadically throughout October, but mostly in the first week.

 

There. Linkage for everyone!Β No, wait. I see one base uncovered.

Here, for the science crowd. I don’t think I’ve linked you yet to the Mars One expedition? Well, watch that space (haha), because if all goes according to plan, people will be living on Mars in a scant decade: the first humans are scheduled to land late in 2022 or early in 2023. And it’s not too late! You can still apply to be one of them! Though this is probably the bit where I mention the fact that it’s a one-way ticket…..

 

Right. Now we have linkage for everyone. /nod. My work here is done. I’m off to bed.

Night!