Sunday, October 27, 2013

Old & Dusty Dreams

Do you have any dreams left over from when you were a kid, a pre-teen, even a teenager? I have quite a few of them:

Be a Rock Star! The only problem with this one was that I never learned to play an instrument, can't read music, and don't know how to match my voice to the notes on the paper. Oh, yeah, when I was young, I was too shy to do anything on a stage, and at over 50 years of age, I doubt if this one will happen. So we'll just leave that one on the shelf to keep gathering dust.

Have a Motorcycle! How cool, adventurous - and different - it would have been when I was a teen. I've never had one. My first husband did, and one night when we were doing errands on that cycle, he got off and left me to hold it up until his return. Not only did it fall over, it took a chunk out of my heel. Sometime later, he tried to 'teach' me how to ride his new cycle. I stood there, trying to balance that even-heavier cycle by standing on my tippy-toes like a ballerina while he explained how to change gears and so on. That cycle fell over, too, but not before it jumped the curb and rushed half-way down the hill. This dream has changed a bit... Now I want a tricycle! I saw one the other day that was so big and powerful, the guy had 3 or 4 big suitcases stacked on the frame behind his seat. But those cost a good deal of money, and my bones could be getting fragile, so chances are...

There were lots of other dreams, and the one I'm working on the most is writing. In my writing, I pause to give my characters some old and dusty dreams. Mac ( once dreamed of being a ballerina. (She hasn't revealed that yet, but will in another week or so.) As she revealed to Dr MacGregor in the last episode, when she joined the Fleet, it wasn't 'communications' that she wanted to do. But she wouldn't answer when he asked what field she had wanted.

Take a guess; what field do you think she wanted? And while you're at it, what are some of your old and dusty dreams? Not all of my characters can share mine!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finding Shiney Bits

I read a lot of newsletters. I mean, a LOT of newsletters. Some are to help me write better, some are about the publishing field in general, some give me lists of potential markets, and some are about marketing.
Unfortunately, when I had my knee replaced this summer, I got behind in that reading. Since then, I have slowly been catching up.
The good thing about being behind is that I can get through them a little faster. Whenever I see a list of classes, I don't check the titles to see if I want to take them, I check the start date. If the classes have already started, I skip the entire list. When I see a contest listed as a potential market, I scan for the deadline. If it's passed, or only a few days in the future, I haven't got a chance of making it, so I skip reading the rules.
The bad thing about being behind is that I miss a lot of opportunities; that class that might have been perfect for me, a contest that was right up my alley. I also feel a bit rushed, because I'm trying to catch up. Is everything I'm reading out of date?
Nope. The information on writing better is still applicable. The insights into the publishing field are still there, can still teach me about How Things Work, rather than me being completely in the dark. These are the Shiney Bits, the reason why I read these newsletters. And I look forward to the day when I catch up and can find even more Shiney Bits in the form of a class to take, a new market to try, a contest I have time to enter.

How about you? Do you find the Shiney Bits in your life before you throw out the dregs you don't want or can't use?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Planet Discovered

Scientists have discovered a new planet.
Ho hum. This has become so common-place, it isn't typically reported anymore. What makes this one newsworthy? ... It doesn't bother to have a parent sun.
That's right, it's just wandering around in space, about 80 light-years from us, with no sun, and no other symptoms of a 'planetary system'. In early science fiction, such a planet might be called a 'rogue planet'.
Since this rogue is not orbiting a star, they didn't find it in the usual way, either. The usual way, these days, is to observe the changes in the star's brightness to determine when a planet's orbit places it between that star and Earth.
The way they discovered this planet was by looking for Brown Dwarf stars. Brown Dwarf stars, as I understand it, are 'larger than a planet, but not warm enough to have ignited into a star.' While searching for large, cool masses, they discovered this rogue, which was even colder than the brown dwarfs they were looking for.
At this point, they don't know much about it; only that it doesn't orbit a star, it's about 12 million years old, and it's about 6 times the mass of Jupiter.
I wonder if it could be considered a tiny brown dwarf? When I was (much) younger, I seem to remember wild speculation that Jupiter was just a little too small to have been a 2nd sun in this system, and in 2010 (as I remember the movie) aliens added enough mass to Jupiter to get it to ignite into another sun.

Well, for now, it's a planet. Of course, its status could change. Pluto was once a planet, too. After all, it's not as if astronomy is an exact science.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Defragging a Story

Have you ever had your computer defrag its files?
I've done it many times. I used to get a kick out of watching little squares disappear from one place on the grid and reappear in a different place, but the defragging  program no longer has that entertainment possibility. But I digress...
On Tuesdays, I post a new scene from 'Mac', a story I've been working on for - oh - about 35 years. Back then, I didn't have a computer. Heck, I didn't even have a typewriter. I wrote my stories in longhand, probably with a pencil, on anything resembling paper; scratch pads, used paper, partially used notebooks, paper grocery sacks, even unused tissues (although those required I use a pen).
When I did get a typewriter, parts of this story got typed up. When I got a computer, parts of this story got typed into that. Over the years, I've had several computers, and almost all of them had some Mac scenes as files.
At one point, I had the foresight to print out what Mac scenes I had in that computer, and boy, am I happy now that I did that. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Technology changes, and when you use a computer until it just won't go anymore, you don't always get to save what you absolutely want from the hard drive. How many times have I had to rewrite important Mac scenes because I couldn't retrieve them? I forget...
I thought I was really being smart about 2 computers ago, when I started saving Mac scenes on external drives. When I had to replace that computer, I made sure the one I got could still read those external files. But when I replaced THAT computer last year, it just wasn't possible to get a slot that would read 3 1/4 inch floppies anymore. So all those dozens of disks holding Mac scenes (and many other stories I've worked on) got thrown out when I was cleaning up from moving my office.
But something else happened when I was cleaning up from that move. I kept finding hand-written versions of Mac scenes; a couple scenes in this notebook, half a scene on a scratch pad, a scene in a steno pad... Lots of scenes, with no clue whether they were included in what I had printed out or not. I already have a 2-inch stack of these bits and pieces to go through, and I've still got a couple boxes of old papers and notebooks to clean out.

So now, I get to defrag this story. I get to type all these scenes into my computer, and then try to arrange the scenes in their correct sequence. That should keep me busy for a while!