May 27, 2008 • No Comments
I was trolling around on the internet looking for Fun Facts About Bloodsuckers and came across the term “vampire” applied to household appliances that utilize standby power. This seems to apply to anything with clocks, status lights or other “instant on” features. These days, most appliances larger than a toaster have something that glows or flashes, so the power drain adds up.
I usually keep my stereo and computer hooked into power bars with surge protectors, so it would be easy enough to turn everything off with one button. Sounds good: be green, save money. Vampires, since they live enough years to see the long-term effects of pollution, will undoubtedly approve.
The down side is that all the electronics guys I talk to say that putting something like a VCR through the “power up” process each and every time it’s used is very hard on the machine – not to mention the inconvenience of resetting all its features.
I think there is some truth to this. I killed (staked?) a VCR when I was unplugging it all the time due to cord-chewing kittens. One day it just wouldn’t find the stations any more. In a similar vein, the guy who installed my cable modem insisted it should not be unplugged or it would disrupt some internal cycle.
So what to do, besides demanding manufacturers make more earth friendly stuff? I’ve been trying to research a bit, but can’t find an easy solution. I want to do the right thing environmentally, but I am loathe to damage my toys.
I am finding plenty of OTHER interesting environmental tidbits. This site has some good tips:
May 22, 2008 • No Comments
Just a heads-up that my long-suffering term critique buddy A.J. Menden and I have a new joint venture here: http://community.livejournal.com/capes_coffins/
This is just an added extra to regular blog programming. Come join us in our new sandbox for excerpts and more!
May 20, 2008 • No Comments
I spent the weekend decluttering and cleaning, and it felt wonderful. Yeah, I know. A sure sign of procrastination.
I could have been doing a lot of more creative things, like getting started on my next piece of writing, but I realized that the nesting phase was a necessary part of my pre-book activities. I needed to dust, straighten, tidy up my reference shelf, and put away the debris from my last project. I even filed away old receipts. Now all is cleared away and my laptop sits in readiness, free of the thicket of sticky notes usually adorning my desktop. There’s room for something new.
It led me to think about writing habits. There are big writing rituals and little ones. What are yours? The big clean/file purge? Picking out CDs? Gummy bears? Toys and mascots?
May 16, 2008 • No Comments
There’s never a shortage of weird and fascinating things out there if one takes the time to look. For instance, I stumbled on this: http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/Article/The_British_Occult_Secret_Service.html
A lot of this was familiar to me from previous reading, and some of it was contradicted by other things I’ve read. But there were a few nuggets here I’m looking forward to following up.
I’m not all that familiar with the occult connections to WWII. The idea that Ian Fleming (author of James Bond) was a key player in the deception and capture of Rudolf Hess (an important member of Hitler’s High Command) is pretty interesting. The fact that he did it by leaking false astrological predictions is proof that truth is stranger than fiction. I’m definitely going to have to dig around and see what else I can find out!
May 14, 2008 • No Comments
Apparently it is now possible that the little voices in your head were put there by someone else. Perhaps a hack flogging breakfast cereal.No, I’m serious.
I love a piece of fun advertising as much as the next person, but this really makes me wonder. As an author, I have imaginary conversations going on in my head anyway – which brings to mind the old saw about a certain breed of lunatics becoming either a) serial killers or b) the next Joan of Arc or c) fiction writers.
However, the tech (called hypersonic sound technology) to replicate this phenomenon commercially is now available. It works by beaming sound waves that are inaudible until someone steps into their path. Apparently, hitting a solid object (such as a shopper) causes the sound waves to slow, mix, and whisper their message into the shopper’s ear. No one around them can hear, at least until they step into the beam.
Once this tech becomes mainstream, we run the risk of being yammered at by ads wherever we go. Which of course, only ups the ante for the next new marketing ploy.
Maybe we can try hypnotic manipulation. You’re calm. You’re getting sleepy. You’re going to buy my book now …. Three copies …. Take them to the cash desk … Now take out your credit card ….
May 13, 2008 • No Comments
I’m finally getting around to posting some shots of The Queen. She and the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness (DLKB) are not on speaking terms, mostly because he bounces too much and tries to eat all her food. Not easy to see in these shots, but she has the approximate configuration of a bowling ball on tiny, dainty paws.
May 11, 2008 • No Comments
My good friend has an elderly cat. I shared house space with Mr. H (the cat) and his brother for the first many years of his life. Now that he is of a curmudgeonly age (the cat, not my friend), I am one of the auxiliary humans called upon when something medical needs doing.
Lately, this something has involved pumping fluids into him via subcutaneous injection. The ritual involves swathing Mr. H in a large yellow towel and clinging on for dear life while my friend stabs him with a needle. Then we assume the position long enough for the drip to happen. If the Paws of Death do not emerge from the towel–one sneaky claw at a time–about twenty minutes later we emerge unbloodied and the cat sloshes away. Mr. H looks weird with one side bulging full of ringer’s solution, sort of like half a sumo cat. The good part is it perks him right up.
This is not without its ridiculous side. The other night I was sitting there with a half-nelson on Mr. H and thought, “great, he’s fighting back with his bladder.” Turned out the needle had gone in and right out the other side of the fold of skin. We were hydrating my pant leg instead of the cat. My friend withdrew the needle and started over, only to discover the solution still trickling out of Mr. H like a half-hearted garden fountain. I always assumed skin would heal over a needle prick instantly, but he’d sprung a leak where the extra puncture had been. Happily, he did not start leaking air and whizz around the ceiling like a burst balloon.
All’s well that ended well – when we were done Mr. H still chased his kibble around the floor like a maniac.
May 6, 2008 • 1 Comment
I have yet to find the proper method of dealing with post-book blahs. It’s been about a month since RAVENOUS went off to eat my editor, or vice versa. Of course I want to be assured it is the most wonderfulest book ever, but on the other hand it’s kind of nice not having to look at it for a while.
Wise people would be cranking out new chapters. That’s not me. I’ve spent the intervening time slaying an inconvenient dragon (not writing-related), so it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the back porch drinking beer. No slacking here, but now that dragon is drake kebab, and I need to get going on the next book. I’m ready.
Sadly, my muse is at the cleaners. Orcs in pursuit of a scorched earth policy have tramped through my brain with flame-throwers. I know what the next book is about, but my storyland still hasn’t bounced back. I’m not shocked—this happens with every book. In a week or so, I’ll be fine. I just need some un-dragony down time, playing in the herb patch and wasting time at outdoor markets.
Which leads me to the question—does everybody feel like road kill after they finish a book and, if so, how long does it last?
April 22, 2008 • 1 Comment
X-posted from FFF – the topic was how has the internet changed the compositional process.
How the internet has changed my writing. Hmm. Let me see … oh, wait, here’s a new message! Better check it out! Wow! A great deal on worms for the compost! …uh, back now. Hmm. So many people are going to read this, I’d better get the right answer. If I get the wrong one, it’ll keep coming back to cyberhaunt me forever. Golly. Maybe I should Google myself to see what people are saying and try and work from there. Ah, another message. Better go read that.
Okay, concentrate. How has the internet changed my writing? It does give me instant look-up for all kinds of facts. I can spend hours looking stuff up…hours and hours…it’s good to find a bunch of sources and then cross-check them to make sure they’re reliable ’cause you just never know who put them up and then maybe checking with a regular library might be a good idea, which I do the minute I stop fooling around eBay.
Oh, another message … Wow, I didn’t know the human body could do that.
Seriously, folks, I don’t know that the Internet has changed my actual writing style or the way I write my books, but then being a natural Luddite, I started out writing longhand. The benefits to me have been the breadth of exposure to other writers, on-line critique groups (waves to anyone tuning in who belongs to the OWG), and access to coaches and classes I would not have otherwise enjoyed.
However, there are distractions, like email and endless surfing, that slow me down. If I’m in the mood to procrastinate, it’s deadly.
As a sidebar, I wonder if the Internet has changed readers. It seems to me the long, complex books are a harder sell these days—at least in genre fiction. I’m not an expert on these things, but I wonder sometimes if the Internet, along with other electronic media, is one of the many factors that have created an audience eager for faster-paced, edgier books. Has the need to keep up with the pace of information changed our tolerance for slower, more subtle writing?
April 20, 2008 • 3 Comments
My temporary web site is up at www.sharonashwood.com. There’s not much there yet because, let’s face it, until I at least get a cover design for my book there’s not much to include. However, having someplace to put all that good stuff once it arrives makes me feel better. I’m on the web; therefore, I exist and can move on to other things. It’ll be nice when the official and better designed site gets up and running, but this at least gives me a place to hang out.
I’ve wanted to spend time on this blog relating interesting tidbits about the supernatural in the news. However, I’ve suddenly been hearing a lot about nanofoods. Not exactly paranormal, but not exactly normal either, and worth a thought.
Nanofood is, apparently, food with enhanced molecular “extras.” The point is to change the properties of food to, say, taste like whole fat mayo when it’s mostly water or make something whip to a froth that isn’t supposed to. The possibilities for enhanced nutrient contents or really good “diet” foods is huge, what one writer described as a new industrial revolution.
What nobody knows at this point is the long term effects of this stuff and, after the outcry against genetically modified foods, it seems the development of nanofoods is happening in a quiet way. I read one oblique reference to a problem with the nanobits unexpectedly going diving in the nucleii of nearby cells–something the researchers viewed with understandable concern. Extra bits swimming in the DNA. Can’t be good.
I might be excused for thinking of the Borg. Already I have enough problems walking past a bakery and thinking “resistance is futile.”
And this all goes to prove that, whatever I dream up as a writer, reality is much more strange.