Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman talk about Sir Terry Pratchett

Stages of Novel Writing

In the midst of euphoria over finishing the last novel, I jumped headfirst into writing the next, and now, three months later, I’ve reached the stage of, “What the hell was I thinking?”

And yet it progresses.

Most writers seem to have very similiar stages in writing longer manuscripts. Mine generally follow this pattern:

  1. Let’s do this thing!
  2. I’m on a roll!
  3. Wow, this is taking a lot of time out of my life.
  4. What the the hell was I thinking?
  5. I am wasting my time on this piece of crap.
  6. I should take up knitting instead.
  7. Okay, that was cool, maybe I’m not so bad a writer.
  8. Hey, this thing is coming together finally.
  9. The end is in sight!
  10. Yay, I’m done, and that ended completely different than I thought it would!

But being that I’m only three months into it, it’s pretty good (at least for me) to already be at Stage Four.

Monty Python Sketch: Novel Writing

It’s about time I shared this…

Dedicate One Hour a Day to your Fiction

One HourDedicating only one hour a day to your fiction writing doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a lot easier to do than several hours, and much easier to maintain.

You’ll find that you’ll make more progress with that simple one hour a day than you will with sporadic binge writing.

Also, one hour a day of writing will give you a heck of a lot more progress than zero hours a day writing.

Google Earth Pro: Also A Tool For Fiction Writers

You may (or may not have) heard that Google now gives away their professional version of Google Earth:

https://www.google.com/work/mapsearth/products/earthpro.html

You don’t even have to fill out the form. Just download, install, and sign in with your email address and the password GEPFREE

This is a great tool for fiction writers who want to explore the setting of a scene in a place that you may not have visited in a while (or have never visited). The Pro version includes street view, but here’s where it’s a plus: the street view pictures are very high resolution. Example below…

The Tree I Grew Up In

That’s the tree I grew up in, in front of the house that burned down a week before my dad died. There was quite an elaborate tree house in that tree back in the 1970’s. The resolution of this photo is 24 megapixels, the same as if I’d snapped the picture with my very own DSLR.

While I no longer believe Google is going by it’s “Don’t be evil” mantra, at least they’re still giving us some pretty cool tools.

Coffee Helps Fight Dementia

A study published in the May 2010 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease purports that caffeine may protect against cognitive decline that occurs as a result of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  The report goes on to specify that caffeine can help:

  • Normalize brain function and prevent degeneration
  • Reduce effects of Alzheimer’s
  • Improve memory and overall cognitive performance
  • Protect against Parkinson’s disease

Caffeine appears to reduce amyloid-beta production, and that in turn helps inhibit growth of plaques in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s.  The other effect — and this falls into the realm of research that shows happiness is, in itself, incredibly good for you — is that caffeine can act as a powerful mood lifter, relieving the depressive symptoms which are thought as the most prevalent complication of cognitive decline.

So, coffee (or at least the caffeine in it) is a mood lifter?  I guess so.  I know I’m significantly less happy in the morning if I don’t get it.

Personal Drones: A Clear and Present Danger?

This has little to do with writing, and more to do with human nature. I also find myself conflicted by my love of toys and fear of the misuse of technology.

I’ve gotten into flying remote control drones with video cameras on them. Example of one of my videos:

They are extremely fun to fly, and then you have the added bonus of being able to relive the adventure over and over again from the point of view of the drone’s camera.

Bear in mind I’m flying toys, not professional drones. But even as I was first flying them, and watching videos of the big professional models (some of which can carry many pounds of payload) it crossed my mind how easily it would be to weaponize these.

Then yesterday I was reading about how the Secret Service was freaked out because they found one on the White House grounds.

As I was telling some friends the other day, it’s only a matter of time before these are either going to be severely restricted or outlawed altogether. While I don’t really want it to happen, I feel it needs to happen. You can easily buy a drone that can be remotely piloted, or even have a course automatically set, and it can fly for miles — and carry pounds of anything, anywhere.

Explosives? Nerve gas? Biological agents?

Yes. All of the above. Easily.

Think you can protect yourself by jamming the remote control signal? Think again. They can be programmed with a destination and then guide itself there with onboard GPS. For the price of a good camera, you can have your own personal guided weapon.

Friends urged me to not say anything about this, as it will give bad people bad ideas — but I’m sorry, the bad people already have the bad ideas, and that’s why I must unhappily urge that these fun, awesome devices be locked down and regulated. Because if you don’t do it now, something bad will happen, and then they’ll be locked down and regulated anyway.

Doing it now will save lives, because I guarantee you deranged minds are already plotting evil.

This is not something I want to be able to point to and say, “I told you so.”

Still doubt it? Check out how far this readily available drone flew, and think what could have happened if the remote pilot was a terrorist: