Science Affliction #1

While I browsed through my Google Reader feed this morning, an idea occurred to me. I’m a big science fiction fan, and though I haven’t written much in the genre yet, I know I will. I’m always on the lookout for cool science tidbits that would make good story fodder. Every week I’ll pluck out a few of the best and put them up here for your (and my) brainstorming pleasure. I’m going to shoot for Fridays with this, but this week I’m putting it up a little early because I’m hoping to dedicate tomorrow to writing since I have the day off.

This week’s story fodder:

1) Human echolocation a blog post by Ed Yong about how amazing the human brain is, more specifically how blind people develop a form of echolocation.

2) Ancient Sea Monsters Were No Shrimps is an article on that talks about some neat fossils found in Morocco of huge predator shrimps known as anomalocaridids.

3) Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Science meets fiction in an article called Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories on about a new drug that doesn’t touch memories, but could potentially erase the bad emotions tied to them.

4) Here is a conversation between two science nuts (science writer Carl Zimmer and scientist Timothy Lu) discussing bacteriophages, a topic near and dear to my heart. Phages have gotten a lot of science press lately, but I first heard of these teeny guys in a virology course more than a decade ago. My professor explained why he thought bacteriophages could be instrumental in defeating genetic disorders and quite literally stole my imagination.

I hope you don’t mind a brief aside here: To this day, Robert Leamnson, the professor I mentioned above, is the person who had the biggest impact on my life. I found out recently that he passed away. Learning of his death upset me quite a bit and I did a few web searches trying to find out what I could about what he had done after I left school. I found a paper he wrote about learning that shows what he was about better than I could ever explain it.

Ryan’s Word of the Day is convivial, an adjective that means festive.

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Weekly Flash #1 – Beetle Juice

Here is the link to my first ever weekly (I hope) flash fiction, Beetle Juice. I might write another story that takes place in this world at some point because I find the magic system intriguing.

This was written and edited over the course of two days. I concentrated mostly on developing the magic system, so the characterization isn’t as strong as I’d like. I’d love to hear what you think, so please leave a comment if you feel inclined.

I’m going to try to put one up one of these every Wednesday. The next piece of flash will either be one about a man with a foot fetish, or a story based on the opening line I mentioned in this post about inspiration.

Ryan’s word of the day is pulchritudinous. Believe it or not, that huge, ugly-sounding word is an adjective meaning is beautiful.

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I wrote a piece of flash fiction over the weekend for an anthology taking submissions on KindleBoards. Generally, this form is considered to be any piece of fiction under 1000 words, though some markets constrain the requirements further. I’ve never been much for writing short stories, I think mostly because I tried to use my own ideas and I always want to expand on them until the story no longer fit within the confining word counts. Since someone else provided the seed for this one, it was easier for me to shape that idea into a bite-sized morsel of story than usual.

This story, titled “Love in a Time of Bunnies,” presented a nice writing challenge for me. It’s a humorous romance, which is not at all something I usually write. Building story and character arc in such a small space forced me to make the most out of every word. Interestingly enough, I had a lot of fun doing it! So much fun that I think I’m going to try to write a piece of flash fiction a week and post it up here. It will be interesting to see the evolution of my writing as time goes on and also to find out if this becomes a joy or a trial. This week’s flash is courtesy of an idea from my husband about a magic system involving bugs. That’s all I’m going to tell you for now.

To pull this off long-term I’m going to need a bunch of writing prompts, because I don’t trust myself to keep the stuff in my head under 1k words. I found a site that offers a prompt a week called Flash Fiction Friday which I’ll be trying a few of no doubt, but I’m open to other ideas. Do you know a site with writing prompts that you like?

Ryan’s Word of the Day is phlegmatic, which describes a person of calm or stoic demeanor.

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I am currently contemplating The Dreaded Prologue.

I know. I know. Everyone says not to do it, and their arguments make sense. You don’t want to front-load your story with too much history. You don’t want to info-dump. Above all, you don’t want to bore your readers.

The thing is, I think my story might need it. The road to Helheim is paved with that phrase as far as I’m concerned, but hear me out… My were-story currently starts with a business meeting which concludes with my main character getting two assignments. That’s great, right? Well, the assignments he gets are really subplots, and the overarching story is more about him than either of the things he has to do. The subplots get resolved rather quickly, and one of my Alpha readers mentioned that as a potential problem.

Here’s where things get dicey. I have been Dying (yes, with a capital D) to write a short story about how two of the characters in Broods meet. I know what happened, but I haven’t tried to write the text of it yet. I could slip that in as a prologue, and it would go a long way toward explaining Brand’s frame of mind and why the plot is really about him and his choices. At this point, you might be asking yourself why I don’t just make that Chapter 1? Well, it takes place long before any of the action in the story, and I think if I label that as Chapter 1 and then Chapter 2 takes up a hundred years later, readers will probably get confused.

I agree with the conventional wisdom that prologues are evil, but I can’t stop thinking that this might be the best way to go with this story. What do you folks think of prologues? Is it more a general guideline that can be bent or broken with good cause, or is every one irredeemable?


Ryan’s word of the day is pyrrhic, which is a cool word as far as I’m concerned. It has a dual meaning. It can either refer to a Greek war dance, or a metrical foot with two unaccented syllables.

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Review of The Heat

The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf, #1)The Heat by Heather Killough-Walden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall I found The Heat an enjoyable read.

I had a few issues with the beginning, but the story grew more engaging as it went on. There were several parts of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked the twists on the common werewolf myths and thought the world she built was interesting.

Although I liked Lily as a character, she frustrated me at times. I thought most of the other characters were lacking. Daniel in particular felt a bit too stereotyped and could have been done better.

View all my reviews

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