Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Programming Note the Deuce

I'm moving to Ames this weekend! And, I need to pack my whole life right now. Which means that as of today, my desktop computer will be packed up. I still have my netbook, but my internet time will be restricted for the next week or so. Hopefully I will have internet soon when I move. My apartment has internet as an included utility. It's awesome not to pay extra for it, but I have no idea how setting it up works. I may just be able to plug in my cable modem and get on the internet, or it might be more complicated. I have no clue.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

15. Mid­way ques­tion! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether pro­fes­sional or not!

I really like Neil Gaiman. Sandman was such a huge deal for me. The way he wrote it, and the way the comic was put together (and I have to give the inkers/colorists/etc props for that as well) made it so real to me. It was like I was reading something that I had always known about, but I only knew it unconsciously and it was brought into the light. Everything else he has written has drawn me in the same way, in that I literally cannot put the book down until I am done.
I also admire Robert Jordan's ability to create such a gigantic world in Wheel of Time, especially in a post-LOTR fantasy world. I actually think the WoT world is more complex than LOTR's world, and I can barely keep it straight when I'm reading, so being able to keep all of these threads in order when creating it is even more impressive to me. I also have to say that Mr. Jordan impressed me with how well he was able to write all of his female characters, when I struggle with writing my male characters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Getting Real

I'm moving in eight days. Crazy! I thought I would be way more prepared for it but I'm not. I haven't even finished packing. I still have a whole bookcase left! I'm getting nervous. The U-Pack box is being dropped off on Monday and it leaves on Thursday. Then I leave on Sunday and move in August 1st. I am crazy nervous right now and have all the horror scenarios running through my head. I even had nervous dreams last night that left me feeling really weirded out. I'm sure it will all go just fine but I can't help but be anxious. Part of having a panic disorder, I guess.
I am way more prepared than when I moved back to Michigan from DC. I barely had anything packed when the truck came then, so I guess I'm in better shape. Still nervous though. It also doesn't help that it's been insanely hot here for the past week. That makes it harder to do things like haul stuff up and down stairs and it severely interferes with my motivation to do anything. Yeah.
I think I have gotten most of my paperwork figured out, as in when I can do it. Switching driver's licenses and stuff is such a pain, but I have to wait at least a month before I can do that anyway. I do have to remember to turn the electricity on in my apartment before I leave. It will be kind of awkward to forget.

14. How do you map out loca­tions, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

I've only had to do this once, and I actually drew a little map out so I could make sure I didn't accidentally put two places in the same spot or something equally silly. It's hand drawn though, so I don't have it to put up. Maybe I can make a MSPaint version when I write the novel this November? That would be kind of cute.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

13. What’s your favorite cul­ture to write, fic­tional or not?

This probably gives me away as a crappy writer, but I haven't ever written any particularly in-depth cultural differences. It would probably make a couple of my stories better, but they haven't moved beyond first or second drafts so I haven't done any cultural explication. Honestly I'm more interested in getting characters and plots first and adding world details later. Plus what I've written so far hasn't been set in ultra-diverse areas to being with. Last Days was either a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a strict neo-Victorian floating city. Terminal Dreams was set in the modern day United States. My NaNo novel this year is set in an entirely fictional world. So I haven't even really written something that had a lot of cultural diversity to initially put in. Not to mention that I'm still at the point where I feel more comfortable writing what I know, so I'm not about to go writing about a culture that I'm not part of and haven't studied extensively.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of world­build­ing? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?

Well, this novel that I'll be writing in the fall is the first one that's really set in a completely fictional world. Terminal Dreams was set in the present day, and Last Days of the Unreal City was also set on Earth, albeit in a post-apocalyptic future. I guess I feel like Last Days needs more revision before I'd feel completely happy with it. There's a lot in my head that I don't think translated well in my first draft. But this new novel is set somewhere completely different, where I had to draw a map and make everything up from scratch, and that's kind of fun and cool. I still don't know how well it will end up translating, but it is neat to build a universe from the beginning.

Monday, July 18, 2011

11. Who is your favorite char­ac­ter to write? Least favorite?

I'm not sure I have a favorite character to write. It's harder for me to write realistic antagonists, so I guess that might be my least favorite to write just because it's difficult. Sometimes I get frustrated when I have a picture or a scene in my head and it's not translating well into words, but that's less a character issue and more a situational issue.

Friday, July 15, 2011

10. What are some really weird sit­u­a­tions your char­ac­ters have been in? Every­thing from seri­ous canon scenes to meme ques­tions counts!

I think I had a scene at one point where the main characters were kidnapped by dwarves and bartered their way out of the situation with a spontaneously appearing duck. I have no idea, I think that came from a goofy NaNo prompt. That's the weirdest thing that's happened. If I write comedic scenes in, they're usually dry comedy and not slapstick. Everything else is pretty serious business.

9. How do you get ideas for your char­ac­ters? Describe the process of cre­at­ing them.

Geez, there really isn't a process. All of my stories just kind of appeared in my head, and the characters just appeared too. I've never really sat down and thought about all the characters I would need beforehand. If I get to a place where I need a secondary character, they just kind of appear. It's very organic, I guess. I have a harder time naming them than anything else, but the personality just appears on paper.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I went fishing

I went fishing for northern pike Up North, and I caught no fish. I did, however, catch this:
Yep, that's a bald eagle sitting on the top of that tree. I've seen bald eagles in the wild before, but never has one stayed put long enough for me to take a picture. This dude hung out for almost an hour, and he was talking to another eagle that was somewhere in the woods. It was epic.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Presque Isle

Presque Isle is a little island just off of Marquette in Lake Superior. Every time I go Up North, I go to Presque Isle because there are some totally sweet rock formations you can go walk on and it's a lot of fun. It's extra cool for me because I've been able to spend the past 20 years watching the beginnings of biological succession occur and I'm a dork so I think it's awesome. This is also one of the best places to look at Lake Superior. It's hard to explain what the lake is to me. It's an integral part of my life and holds a special place in my heart. It's really hard to explain how it feels to be out on these rocks and there's no one but you and the lake, but it's awesome.
 The day I went up there it was cloudy and only 59 degrees. It was so nice. I really don't like super hot weather so it was perfect for walking around. It was also really windy so the lake was all crazy.
 I saw these little purple flowers growing in the rocks. I've never seen them before and they're cute. Succession in action! Someday the rocks will all be dirt and there will be trees growing here.
 Lake Superior gets really deep really fast. There's no sand here at all and the bottom of the lake is solid rock. It literally drops off from standing on these rocks to about 20 feet deep right away.
 There was enough wind that the lake had some pretty powerful waves coming in to shore. It took me about ten tries to get this picture right as the wave is crashing over itself.
 There's a lot of copper and iron in the cliffs, which is why mining was such a big industry in the Upper Peninsula. The orange colour is the iron.
 Another picture showing how unsettled the lake was. I like this one because I inadvertently caught the spray from a wave in it.
I'm standing on top of the cliff here and looking down at the water. I'm probably thirty or forty feet up in the air. After you hit the water it's about sixty feet deep there. Absolutely crazy. I don't recommend jumping off; there's a powerful undertow right there in the water. There's always a couple of stupid people who jump off for fun and die every year. Respect the lake, seriously.
That's my pictures of Presque Isle this year. I really enjoyed going back and being able to stand there again, just me and the endless water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

 While I was Up North, I got to go on the Pictured Rocks tour. You can only see most of the Pictured Rocks from Lake Superior so you have to go on a boat to see them. I'd never done it before so it was really cool. The boats hold about 150 people, but ours wasn't full. I got a seat on the top of the boat so I was outside the whole time and it was easy to take pictures. The boats go 13 mph and slow down near each of the coolest structures. The whole tour was almost three hours and it was really awesome. The weather was perfect and the lake was really calm so it was a great time.
 This is Miner's Castle. I've been here a million times because you can go see it from land. In fact, the observation deck is visible in this picture. But I'd never seen it from the water and the bottom of the rock formation is really cool.

 This is called Lover's Leap. Apparently the water is only two feet deep underneath the rocks, so it's not recommended you leap off. The rest of the water is really deep-it drops off really fast to around sixty feet.
 The colours in the rocks are formed by minerals seeping through them. This is called Rainbow Cave. The brownish red is from iron, the green from copper, the black from manganese, and the white from calcium.
 Yeah, this is called Indian Head. It does kind of look like a dude, but I'm assuming a white guy decided it was an Indian.
 This is the Grand Portal. The rockfall underneath the arch is really recent because they used to be able to take boats underneath it.
 The series of rock outcrops here is called Battleship Row because it looks like several old battleships lined up. Of course when you get close to them they don't look like anything.
 This is a closeup of some of the copper seepage in Chapel Cave. The water is deep enough that we were able to take the boat into the cave and get really close to the walls. I thought it was really pretty.
 This is called Chapel Rock. It's a cool rock, but the tree on top of it is also way cool. The tree is only surviving because its roots are actually hanging off one side of the rock and buried in the dirt on the main cliff. It is totally crazy.
This is the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island. It doesn't work as a lighthouse anymore, but it's being restored by the people who own summer homes on Grand Island. I think it would be cool if they eventually made it a place you could rent to stay in. I would totally stay in an old lighthouse.

Monday, July 4, 2011

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

I write some bizarre combination of science fiction and fantasy, sometimes veering into steampunk/post-cyberpunk territory. I like to combine elements of the two genres-fantasy type settings, for example, and genetic engineering and computer hacking from sci-fi. I do more biological-type science fiction elements just because I'm a biologist and understand that a heck of a lot better than physics.
Obviously I like to read science fiction and fantasy. I grew up on the masters of science fiction and Tolkien. Actually now that I think about it, that's most of what I read. I do like some older horror. Most of the other stuff I like to read is considered classic literature or it's nonfiction.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

7. Do you lis­ten to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your char­ac­ters?

I actually do not listen to music while I write. It's distracting to me. I do however, watch old B-movies while I write, because they are entertaining when I have writer's block. Otherwise, I keep it quiet. I tried listening to music for a while, but I would just get distracted and never write anything down, so I quit. Plus I don't get tangled in my headphones when I'm trying to leave the computer.

Up North Waterfalls

Now seems like a good post to show a bunch of pictures of waterfalls from around the Munising, MI area. So here they are.
 The first is Miner's Falls. Fed by the Miner's River, it goes all the way to Miner's Beach where it dumps out into Lake Superior. Those miners were very creative namers. Anyway, Miner's Falls has actually been moving in the whole 20 years that I've been going Up North. It used to fall more straight in the middle and now it's moving to the right.
 This is Munising Falls. You used to be able to walk behind it on a sandstone shelf that has eroded away. I was able to do that all of once when I was less than a year old. It's actually my earliest memory-walking behind the falls with my dad. Now there's been a bunch of rockfalls so you couldn't get back there if you wanted to.
 This is Au Train Falls and the reason it's such a close picture is because I was walking up the falls when I took the photo. Au Train Falls is really big, but it's also really shallow and the rock formations are perfect for walking on. There's a hydroelectric plant nearby, which is cool I guess.
 This is Bridalveil Falls. You can only see it from Lake Superior, which it dumps directly into, and it's a seasonal waterfall, so it's not always flowing. I was able to take the photo on the Pictured Rocks boat tour, which is awesome and I highly recommend. Anyway, I like how these falls just skate down the rocks.
Lastly, this is Wagner Falls. I think it's one of the prettiest waterfalls. The Anna River flows over the falls and keeps going towards Lake Superior. Not a lot of people go see this one so it's nice because you're all by yourself.
That is the waterfalls of the Pictured Rocks area that I saw and took pictures of this year. Ta-da!

6. Where are you most com­fort­able writ­ing? At what time of day? Com­puter or good ol’ pen and paper?

I usually write my NaNoWriMo novels right at the computer because it counts my words for me and I do type faster than I write. Since until recently I worked full-time, and I will be a full-time student for the next million years, I usually have to write in the evening. If I'm just working on either outlining future work or just stretching my writing muscles by doing fanfiction, then I handwrite everything. I still do it in the evening though. I only have time to do these things in the evening.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Programming Note

This is just a quick placeholder/reminder for me. Once I get home, I'll do a real series of entries on my Up North vacation. I'd like to get home and get my photos in order so I can put some of them up here so everyone can see what I'm talking about when I say this is the most beautiful place on Earth. I might be interrupted by my quick trip to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, but maybe not if I'm really on top of my shit.