Stories

Stories drive everything. One of my day job goals is to do more, and more effective storytelling. Something I feel is lacking in my stories is plot. Just not enough of it. I tend to drive away from conflict personally, so sometimes I do too much of that in my stories. So one of my writing goals is to conflict more. (In my stories…not in my life.)

Stories and Pixar!

Pixar has a class on storytelling at Khan Academy. You can get a free class on stories from Pixar. It’s got a few activities, some videos, I highly recommend it so far. The one for storytelling is out already. There is more on characters coming up.

If you’re enjoying videos there’s a playlist of Ted talks about storytelling.

Science Story

But there were creatures with mouths far more frightening than that of any shark. They lived at a time before fish, even before backbones, and they fed on their neighbors with a nightmare apparatus of moving mouthparts.

That’s good story telling! It’s from Scientific American about this creature.

This is actually one of my favorite written Scientific American articles and I’ve been saving it, go read the whole thing. Here’s another tidbit…

Pamdelurion could push their creepy mouth cone outward into a kind of pyramid before flinging open to present their spikes and close around smaller, softer prey.

Stories at work

Not just our day jobs. Writing is work too. And it is interesting because I think that, at least from what I see, sometimes authors (especially myself!) forget to tell the story to convince someone to buy the story. It’s sort of like how you wouldn’t want a resume from a proofreader littered with errors. That’s literally the tool they are using to sell themselves. Well authors should be amazing at telling the stories to sell our stories.

I feel like I just got too meta.

More from Harvard. (I promise this is the last one for a while! I’m almost at my limit, though I think I could get more through the library!)

The post valentine’s day roundup-NSFW

Very very loosely sex and love related roundup. Very loosely.

NSFW

It’s now a real word! (From Merriam-Webster who is also resisting lies in a fantastic way) It was part of their 1000 new words, but this one is 100% the best for this post.

Bad Chart Thursday

(not this Thursday, every Thursday!) From Skepchick

I was actually surprised to find that at 61%, The Sex Lives of Potato Men is actually more popular than Trump.

Superbowl Porn!

Pornhub statistics are endlessly fascinating. They do serious numbers. Somewhere working at pornhub is a giant stats nerd who has been let loose on the database.

Then something amazing happened — the Patriots began one of the largest turnarounds in football history. As word quickly got around to Bay Staters, traffic plummeted to -53% below average at 10pm, about the same time as it began to increase in Georgia.

And

Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all dropped more than 40%, while some Southern states like Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi only dropped by 17% to 18% during the game.

Speaking of bad charts? These are phenomenal.

Also, I over-scrolled and got down to the comments. You think the comments are full of sex comments? One of the top comments was asking what was used to plot, Python or R? Giant stats nerds.

Venus

This is a hilarious and awesome video about Venus.

Libraries are awesome!

Check out your local library

I was trying to figure out what to post about, I have one that I’ve been working on about unconditional love and my rant about it, that’s not ready yet. But while I was doing it a few things happened. I got a notification that a book I’d been wanting to check out was available, I found a couple of resources I’d been wanting some more information on (audio mixing, I’m trying to get better and faster, and website security), and I looked up and checked out another book.

Check out your local library
Check out your local library

Libraries are awesome!

Seriously, have you checked out what your local public library offers lately? Oh, you think it’s just books and a dusty card catalog? HA! Get with the times, because libraries sure as heck have!

Want to watch movies? Like live music and drinks? Want to have a book club that talks about books? Want a chance to talk about your books? Yeah, they do all these things.

Has classes ongoing on urban homesteading. Want to learn about raising chickens, apartment gardening, or maple sugaring (no I’m not in Canada)? Show up and you can take classes on all of that and a whole lot more.

Things that are really common at libraries:

  • Need help doing your taxes?
  • Looking for a job?
  • Need homework help?
  • Trying to start a business?

Libraries want to help you!

You can, of course, check out books in person. BUT you can also check out books online at most libraries, ebooks, audiobooks, comic books. And movies, music, tv shows. All of these things can be done online. Seriously, your library might not have the same selection as Netflix, but they likely have movies you won’t find on Netflix either.

Your library also likely has tools to help you learn other stuff. My library has Lynda.com available to everyone online. I’m signed in and listening to a course on securing WordPress sites. I did a whole bunch, but I want to see what else I can do.

I also have access to a wide range of journals and magazines that I wouldn’t normally. I use these to research occasionally. (And if I was fancy and dealt better with humans, I’d haul myself in physically and get help from the fantastic librarians in person.)

Also, there’s so much more!, libraries are an amazing resource for understanding what is going on in the political realm. Not just our local libraries but the Library of Congress is a deeply important institution for cultural memory. They have some amazing resources online as well. It has always been important to support libraries, they are one of the best, and often more democratic ways to share information. You can walk down, get a library card, use it in the physical location, use it online, you don’t need all the money to access it. And we need to help make sure it stays that way. So support your local library. Your local library is hyper local politics that really matter. You might know your city council person or mayor, you might be friends, heck you might be related to them. Tell them that the library matters to you. Tell them that it is one of the most important cultural and democratic instiutuions and you value it. Tell them to put dollars into the library to continue to add value to your neighborhood. Keep it in your neighborhood.

And seriously. Go get a library card! It’s worth its weight in gold.

Information and Confessions

Information is critical

You are undoubtedly not surprised by this. If you are, I’m concerned about you. Seriously. Sci Am points out that the free flow of scientific information is critical for democracy. You should also not be surprised by this. But it is a very good article about it. About what is reasonable and what isn’t.

And for sharing that information? The Sunlight Foundation has a list of who is allowed to talk and who isn’t.

It is actually hard to keep track of what is happening today. Which day is today? Something changed. My head hurts.

Information matters. You want a pretty picture of why? Indexed has ALL THE PRETTY

Confessions

I’ve been trying to do the #authorconfession hashtag questions from J M Sulivan every day this month. Take a few minutes and think about your work in progress. Think about it from a different angle, answer a different question. It’s good to keep my brain in the game rather than having it run off screaming which is what it wants to do.

 

Depressing, sad, and nerdy

Comics

I love SMBC. They are weirdly nerdy in so many wonderful ways. Like this one about pop music. And if you are like ugh pop music, SERIOUSLY GO LOOK! You’ll thank me.

Another wonderful comic site, Indexed. This one is something I need to remember over and over and over. We still try. We need to try. Keep trying.

Vaccines are awesome

Seriously, there is probabally someone reading this that is alive because of them. They save lives. Vaccines save lives. Vaccines keep people from getting sick at all. Vaccines keep people from getting acutely ill. So what does the current asshole with all the power want to do? Kill people. Not sorry. That’s what shit like this will do. People will die. Human beings will die if the complete lies that another asshole who was only trying to make money manage to gain traction.

Adults need boosters too. Check yours. Save a life.

Technology is awesome

Heart pumping gif
Heart pumping

I could watch this gif all day, despite the super bloody nature of it, it is still amazing.

This is what happens when you invest research money into science and a range from basic science research all the way to direct impact and outcomes you can …wear? Do you wear a silicone sleeve around your heart? I think wear.

Also from Ars (I do like Ars a lot) net neutrality.

Republicans at the FCC and Congress say they intend to repeal or replace net neutrality rules. Trump’s transition team is also reportedly pushing a proposal to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its role in overseeing competition and consumer protection and to move those functions to the Federal Trade Commission.

If you care about the internet, go read the whole thing. If you are reading this right now? The internet matters to you. Go read the whole thing. Net neutrality matters to you. Even if you aren’t sure? I’m sure for you. It matters to you if you are reading this.

Save

2016 by the Numbers

Every year at my day job I have to pull together information for everything I’ve done for the year. Usually, this comes this week, someone several levels above me running through and saying they need it. I try to be prepared.

So this is my 2016 Roundup of all the shit I’ve done.

ALL the numbers from my 2016!

Quick review of my goals?

Back at the start of 2016 I made a post about my goals.

Narrating

I really dove into narration this year. While I’ve done some of it elsewhere and at other times in my life, I’ve never done as much or as all in as this year.

I narrated 3 novels. One of my own, one for another author, and one for another author under a penname. (You can see narration at Audible.) Three novels this year! I narrated three goddamn novels this year.

Oh but we are just getting started.

I also narrated 7 novellas.

Plus I narrated 2 parts for the anthology I’m an author in. (That isn’t out yet, still waiting for the other parts next year.)

Something like 50 hours of professional narration that I did in 2016.

Podcasting

While we are on the topic of talking into a microphone. I created a podcast. Yup 600 Second Saga was an endeavor of this year. I’ve had 46 episodes so far. (A Halloween bonus episode and 5 preseason episodes.)

I’ve gotten the chance to work with a lot of amazing authors. I’ve gotten the chance to share their stories in a new way and share something I love. Bite-sized stories and audio. It has been a lot of learning, but I also feel like, at least as of now, I made some good decisions at the start.

I still love the name. I still love the format. I still love the time limit.

Some of the stuff I tried I didn’t like as much. I wasn’t thrilled with Halloween month. I liked the episodes, but I just didn’t feel like I did what I could have with it.

Marketing! I need to get better at marketing (Like! Share! Subscribe! Submit!) but I think I have a good, high-quality product. When I started the podcast I subscribed to a few other shows that started at the same time…I’m the only one left.

Studio

Going along with these two I’ve seriously improved my studio. Overall I’m really pleased with it, with the quality of sound I get, with how long it takes to produce things. I’m still improving and changing. But I really did all of this in 2016. So…created a studio.

Publishing

This was the first I did any self-publishing. In 2016 I self-published 1 novel and 3 novellas (1 under a penname).  HOLY SHIT I PUBLISHED. Plural. A fucking novel. I published a fucking novel.

I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve done. A lot of time was dedicated previously, and in this year, learning about publishing and what I needed to do to be successful. I feel good about what I’ve done. I have so much distance to go. But I’m more determined than ever to keep going.

I’ve got plans for publishing a few things in 2017 as well. I have 1 novella in a penname that is 85% of the way there. I have a Smoke Jumpers novella planned for, I believe, March. I’m hoping for a second Smoke Jumpers piece in the fall but I’m less sure on that one. I am very much hoping the anthology I’m a part of (Monsters in the City!) will come out this year. My piece for that is done and has been for…a while…a long while.

Writing

Holy shit I wrote this year on top of all that up there?

I wrote 4 novellas? Wow. I wrote 4 novellas. Wrote, edited, edited, edited, and got to various stages of ready.

I finished editing 1 novel, I am still working on editing another novel.

I wrote…mumblemumble 40 plus flash fiction pieces. Not all of them were good. Many got tossed upon finishing.

Huh. I’d been feeling like I was doing bad at writing this year. Maybe not that bad?

Goals

Most of my goals were writing goals – 30 in 3? Done. So very done. In less than a year at that. I did not write a novel. (Fail.) I did more than the 1 novella. I did not get a full anthology worth of Smoke Jumpers. But I did get a few pieces, and one published.

Other

Also this year? I started an email list. I’ve been trying to be really consistent with blogging. I’ve started trying to use FB and Twitter and Pintrest as an author and better.

Goals

Reading. I did quite a bit more, and in other genres. Not quite as much as I planned, but very much on the right track.

Critiquing. I did a couple of novels. I tried to sign up for Scribophile.

(I had a giant thing at work where I’m part of a training program that has taken a lot of this fall and will take a lot of spring. I also got a promotion to a fancier title this year.)

And I’m sure other things I’m not even remembering.

Holy shit it has been a hell of a year. No wonder I’m exhausted.

Save

Talk to me!

For starters welcome to everyone who has picked up following the blog from the fantastic NaNo Hop.  I wanted to put all the places you can find me in one nice and tidy spot for anyone who wants to talk to me or reach out to me.

Let’s start here

I’ve got a WordPress blog so if you are on WordPress you should be able to follow me that way. You can also use my RSS feed. If you’d like to get emails you can join my email list. If you want to get messages each week about the new 600 Second Saga episode, then join weekly. If you want to only get announcements when I’ve got a new book or giveaway then go for a few a year (less than 6 a year).


How often do you want to get emails?

Ok next up: Social Media…bumbumbum

Facebook:

My account (friend me, I don’t bite)
600 Second Saga-Mariah Avix author page

Twitter:

@MariahAvix This is probably the most active of the social medias right now. I’m not great, but I’m trying.

Pinterest:

Mariah Avix I stand by what I said a while ago about Pinterest being social media for introverts. I hate that it has a bad name because it is feminine. I keep bringing this up and I will keep doing so. But it is awesome for drama free, stress-free, oh, I want to pull together a bunch of inspiration for my book kind of stuff. You can share, find stuff, etc. Weirdly it is also one of the things that most makes me want to read someone’s book. When I see them pulling things together, it is like a glimpse of a beautifully woven mat, I can’t wait to see the final thing.

YouTube:

600 Second Saga This is mostly the podcast, though my book trailer is also on there.

Goodreads

Mariah Avix I’m there both as an author and as a reader.

And then, of course, there is the giant list of places to find the podcast which you should be able to see in the side bar on the webpage.

Or you can just email me too, I like email.

Animals

Here’s your breakish for animals.

Jaguars

Humans have killed 26 Panamanian Jaguars this year from Mental Floss.

Cattle and sheep ranchers are setting up shop in jaguar territory, which puts everyone in a pretty dangerous position. More than half of the forest in the Isthmus of Panama is already gone. The cats are running out of safe spaces to go. And on top of that, humans have moved in on their wild food supply.

Humans are not good at (or depending on your point of view extremely good at) living with the rest of the world.

They survived the ice age. Hopefully, they can survive the human age.

Nova Scotian Blobs

That’s an animal right? Yup! And it is an incredibly cool one. Well many? Bryozoan colony from Doubtful News.

Bryozoan Colony from Doubtful News
Bryozoan Colony from Doubtful News

I love stuff like this. Both super weird to me animals and things that people think are crazy and possibly <ins conspiracy here> but turn out to be something so much cooler! Also I love “zooid” which according to the all powerful Wikipedia is “a single animal that is part of a colonial animal. It it one of those things that gets the gears in my brain turning. Crazy zooid aliens.

Werewolves

Not real animals. Maybe slightly less cool than zooid bryozoan colonies, but maybe easier to turn into fantasy creatures…maybe not. More common to turn into main characters?

An old post about Jacques Roulet and werewolves in France is a great read.

In that year two hunters came across two wolves feeding on the body of a dead 15 year old boy. As they chased the wolves into the forest they came across Jacques Roulet with his clothing in tatters, his hands drenched in blood, and with shreds of human flesh under his fingernails.

BEARDOG

That is all. Go look. Seriously.

Out of this world roundup

Busy doesn’t even touch on how my last two weeks have been. But I’d like to go out of this world a little so here’s a roundup.

Far far out of this world

Looking for Technosignatures at Centauri Dreams has a great post about one of the great ways to discover life elsehwere, technosignatures.

One thought is to look for signs of imbalance suggestive of technologies like ours, producing air pollution that can be measured by spectroscopic analysis. 

See, pollution might be good. Assuming that you think aliens spotting us would be good.

Explosively

How Do Supernovae Fail? at Universe Today (which I love, and highly recommend)…

But it turns out some supernovae just don’t bring their A-game. Instead hitting the ball out of the park, they choke up at the last minute.

They’re failures. They’ll never amount to anything. They’re a complete and utter disappointment to me and your mother. Oh wait, we were talking about stars, right.

So awesome!

Perspective

Get some perspective on your world over at Universe today (yes, again). With what does Earth look like from Mars? Perspective.

Random Roundup

Mostly not of this earth, but a little of this earth. Just a normal random roundup.

Also humans.

Fire, watch it burn - from Pixabay
Fire, watch it burn – from Pixabay

Not of this Earth

Planetary rings are incredibly beautiful. They may be the remnants of the destruction of dwarf planets.

The rings are pieces of Dwarf Planets that got torn off in passing, which were then ripped to pieces!

Juno – I don’t care how old this is – is out of safe mode and awesome. NASA is awesome. Humans managed to send tiny hunks of metal, plastic, and glass and throw them super hard and whoop they went out into space and made pictures of planets that we can see (and that we can’t) as just little specks of light. Humans. Can. Be. Awesome. Then again, robots are the ones doing the hard work. Packing up, leaving home, journeying through potentially lethal and unknown space to explore the universe. Didn’t humans used to talk about going out and exploring? Now we just let robots have all the glory?

At least that will be another reason for AI to not want to bother to destroy us. If you write about AI I can’t recommend this enough.

The true understanding of natural language, the breadth and generality of human intelligence, our ability to both play Go and cross the street and make a decent omelet—that variety is the hallmark of human intelligence and all we’ve done today is develop narrow savants that can do one little thing super well.

A quick funny – sort of funny?

Whatever public works is important. Or pay the troll!