Posts Tagged With: NASA

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Oppa Whiteboard Style!)

If you didn’t get the song reference in the title, shame on you. Go watch this video right now.

Back? Good. Let’s move on to today’s topic …

Overcoming Writer’s Block (Oppa Whiteboard Style!)

This is a very simple technique for overcoming writer’s block. Simply follow these 10 easy steps, and you too can push past that pesky block and write the next NY Times best-seller!

  1. Buy whiteboard markers and an eraser. Don’t use old, gooky ones that you found shoved in the back of your closet. They’ll konk out halfway and then you’ll feel silly, won’t you?
  2. Sneak into your local college/university. If you don’t have a local college/university, a high school will do in a pinch.
  3. Locate a classroom with a big whiteboard. You want to find a whiteboard at least fifteen feet across, giving you lots of writing space. Smaller is okay, but you’ll have to write smaller as a result — I don’t know if you’ve tried writing small on a whiteboard, but it’s rather difficult.
  4. Check for security cameras. Unless you have permission to be in there, in which case shame on you. The instructions specifically state for you to sneak into a school, not stroll in like you own the place. Go back to Step 1 and try again.
  5. De-lid those whiteboard markers and start writing. Use lots of arrows and circles — basically, you want to use as much ink as humanly possible and completely fill that fifteen foot whiteboard with writing.
  6. Step back and admire your creation. Hopefully this process provided you with at least a few insights about your story. If not, at least it was fun!
  7. Snap some pics with your smartphone so you can actually remember what you wrote. If you didn’t bring your smartphone … sigh. Back to Step 1 with you!
  8. Erase the evidence. The last thing you want is some bleary-eyed Engineering student to wander in at 8 a.m., realize they’re looking at the plot for the next NY Times best-seller, and steal it for themselves. Trust no one!
  9. Book it, baby. You probably tripped an alarm on the way in, so you might want to vacate the scene before you get arrested.
  10. Collapse on your sofa and celebrate your successful brainstorming session with a beverage of your choice. I recommend ginger tea, especially if your stomach is feeling a bit upset from all this law-breaking and general tomfoolery.

Disclaimer: If you get arrested, don’t come crying to me. You should have known better than to listen to the internet. Trust no one!

 

Semi-related video of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Visual Writing Prompt + SpaceX

Picture It And Write!

M. Selene mentioned this very cool writing prompt thought up by Ermilia – check her blog out here. Basically, she posts a picture, and then you write a short paragraph of fiction about it and share it. I remember my grade 8 teacher used to make us do activities like this. I hated it back then, because I was in the eighth grade so what did I know, but now I’m psyched. Here is the image, and my contribution:

It was the first sign of civilization they had seen in days – a weather-beaten, clapboard house on a rough little island connected to the shore by a rickety bridge. As if they needed extra incentive, the clouds were catching up again. Within minutes they would cover the entire sky, and Darcy knew what would happen when the last gleam of blue was swallowed up. She refused to let that happen.

Grabbing Mikey’s hand, Darcy dragged her brother off the path and onto the splintery walkway. “It looks like it could fall down any second,” Mikey protested, digging his heels against the wooden boards.

Darcy continued resolutely across the bridge, trying to ignore the way it creaked ominously at each footfall. “It’s better than being caught out here when the clouds come,” she snapped.

Overhead, the skies had grown darker. The deceptively pleasant white clouds were now deepening to navy, and would soon be a roiling black. Only a sliver of blue peeked out from the distant edge of the horizon. It had happened faster than she expected. “Run!” Darcy screamed. This time Mikey cooperated, and together the children raced across the rest of the bridge and down the curving path towards the house.

Then Mikey tripped, not five meters from the partially-ajar door. Darcy, holding his hand, was dragged down with him. The stumble was a critical error. By the time the children had made it back to their feet, the skies had turned completely black. They made a desperate dash for the house, but the door slammed shut in their faces. Then the wind started to swirl around them, and the dark clouds crackled with malevolent energy.

They were too slow. It was coming.

 SpaceX Update!

Ladies and gentlemen, the first commercial spacecraft – aka SpaceX’s “Dragon” ship – has officially docked with the International Space Station! The Canadarm was used to dock the ship, and now the ISS astronauts are floating into the Dragon capsule to claim their 1,000 pounds of provisions stored inside. According to astronaut Donald Petti, it smells like a brand new car. I wonder if they stuck in one of those pine tree air fresheners?

How awesome is the name “Dragon”? SpaceX apparently has a rule when naming things:

“They are named independently, the rule is names must be cool.”

What really fascinates me about SpaceX is the man who runs it – Elon Musk. He financed a huge part of the project with money acquired from his roll as co-creator of PayPal. He also started Tesla Motors, which is an electric car company. Spaceships, electric cars… I want to nominate this guy for president, or something. He’s the kind of person I want running the world. Focused on improving technology, making the world a better place – not starting wars, or selling junk food, or whatever multinational corporations spend all their money on these days.

Thinking time!

Say I gave you a billion dollars. What would you do with it?

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Shelf Space for your Self-Published Book + SpaceX

Publishing an eBook is awesome, no doubt about it. But for me, the ultimate goal of a self-published author is getting your book onto a bookshelf in an actual brick and mortar book store. Imagine walking into your favourite book store and watching as a complete stranger picks your book off the shelf. Heaven!

I’d love to just walk into my local Chapters (Canadian book store) and ask the manager to put my books on their shelves, but tragically it’s more complicated than that. Big book stores don’t want to deal with random little indie authors – they have international best sellers to push. So where can we get our shelf space fix?

Good news for Wichita, Denver, Louisville, and Chico!

First of all, check out this article. Basically, there are a handful of indie book stores in the USA that have started programs that enable local self-published authors to sell their books in the stores. These stores operate mainly on “consignment” – meaning that you give the book store copies of your book for free, and if the books sell, the book store pays you back an agreed-upon price. So, if I were to bring in my made-up-on-the-spot book, Tuna on a Cloudy Day, that retails at $20, the book store would give me a set consignment rate (let’s say 50/50). My book would then go on the shelf for a limited time, and whenever a book is sold, I would get $10.

Some of the book stores listed in the article also have programs where you can do book signings, or they will help you create promotional materials for your book campaign, etc. My personal favourite is Lyon Books in Chico, California, which holds an annual Local Author Holiday Open House. They run ads in the newspaper featuring thumbnails of the local authors’ books and short blurbs, then get all the local authors together in the store for a huge book-signing event. How amazing does that sound?

Unfortunately, I don’t live in Wichita, Denver, Louisville, or Chico. This somewhat limits my options. I’ve tried the obvious Google search for book stores near my house that offer such a program for local authors, but all I got was an eHow article on How to Get a Self-Published Book Into Bookstores. Not very helpful, internet.

My “solution”, such as it is.

There is a self-publishing company called iUniverse. I signed with them and sent them a boatload of money back in April. Now, I don’t want to recommend them to anyone just yet, because I haven’t even gotten as far as the submitting my manuscript stage. More updates on that as the publishing process progresses. Anyway, they have this really neat program called the Indigo Chapters Publishing Package that is only available in Canada. It’s your basic self-publishing service – they edit your book, design the cover, format the interior, create print and eBook versions, and distribute them on all the major book-selling sites. However, there is the added bonus that they will put 8 copies of your book into a Chapters book store of your choice for 8 weeks. The best part is that, if the books sell, Chapters is obligated to re-stock the book so long as the 8 week period is in effect. This means that if you can generate enough interest in your book, Chapters will keep re-ordering even past the end of the 8 week period. Exciting stuff! I’ll let you know if it works XD

Know any good indie book stores?

Obviously my “solution” only works if you live in Canada and have $2,999 to spare. Okay, I didn’t exactly have it to “spare”, but you get the point. Does anyone know of any local/indie book stores that offer programs like the ones I mentioned for self-published authors? It doesn’t have to be only for Canada – I’d love to know about any/all of them!

Also, does anyone know anything or have tips about getting your book into a physical book store? I’m sure at least one person in the big, wide world of WordPress has accomplished this feat!

And now for a change of pace – SpaceX!

Not technically on the topic of writing, but still noteworthy – SpaceX has successfully launched their first commercial spaceship. It’s unmanned, and is currently in orbit around Earth and preparing to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Read about it here. Why am I so excited about this? Because NASA shut down the spaceshuttle program, and have been relying on Russian rockets (not the most reliable form of transportation) to get up to the ISS. SpaceX is the first private company in the world to launch their own rocket successfully. And they aren’t the only company doing it, either. I envision a future (hopefully within the next few decades), where space tourism will be a real thing. How awesome would it be to go up into space for a few hours and float around in zero G? If SpaceX succeeds, this could very well happen, hence my enthusiasm.

And for those of you who don’t want to read the article, here is my personal favourite tidbit from the very bottom:

“The rocket also blasted into orbit around the Earth the ashes of more than 300 people, including Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek. The ashes were in a section of the rocket that was jettisoned during the climb into space.”

That’s right, you can now send your ashes up into space to orbit the Earth for eternity, in the company of astronauts and Star Trek actors. Anyone else intrigued by this concept?

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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