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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Yesterday’s dramatic image showcased an Icelandic waterfall and tomorrow is Monday. Iceland plus “Oh great, Monday, I could use some humor” equals Horse Mail.

Iceland Invites You to Relax While a Horse Replies To Your Emails

Iceland has run a number of clever, funny, and downright weird marketing campaigns in the last several years.

Their latest continues the humorous approach, with a campaign called OutHorse Your Email.

In involves real horses who were trained to type on a giant keyboard.

Next time I go on vacation, horsies, you’re hired.

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Photo by Fabian Burghardt on Unsplash

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This is a place I would like to visit. The colors! The drama! The stratigraphy!

Look at all that history, waiting to be turned into future fiction. Photo by Miha Rekar on Unsplash

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Growing up, we were taught to give books the first sentence test. If that first sentence drew us in we’d move on to the first paragraph. I consider that mindset excellent training for authors running the editorial gauntlet.

Here are a few examples of good openers. While I may not love every one, it’s a good collection, made even more useful by the side-by-side comparison with other great literature.

Literature’s greatest opening paragraphs – the best opening lines in novels

As with pubs and shoes, you know you’re reading a great book from the second you’re inside it.

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Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

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My afternoon disappeared with a giant sucking sound, so please enjoy this story about hope, the power of community, and doing what you can where you are.

Her branches reach for the stars (Jo Miles in Nature: Futures)

Lieutenant Auri Murr knew the exact moment when her grandmother died.

She was on duty in engineering when Grandma Shanna’s dappu-wood bead on her kin-necklace cracked: a sharp, dry, quiet sound, unmistakable to anyone from Darmindu Colony. It could have woken Auri from a sound sleep.

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Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

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Today is the first test of humanity’s nascent planetary defense system. Like Armageddon, except scientists are the heroes.

NASA will hit an asteroid with a spacecraft to change its course : NPR

“It’s just a spacecraft that is going to go and smack an asteroid.” Oh, is that all?

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NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is scheduled to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to test our ability to nudge potentially dangerous near-Earth objects into safer trajectories. That is excellent, and we can watch it.

How to Livestream NASA Smashing an Asteroid to Test Planetary Defense Plan

The impact day broadcast of the actual test will start on Monday, September 26 at 6 p.m. EDT, which you can watch on NASA TV, a livestream on NASA’s YouTube channel.

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What will happen and how will we know? 

Ground-based telescopes are key to DART asteroid mission success | Space

On Monday (Sept. 26), the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will slam into a small space rock called Dimorphos — on purpose, at a staggering 4 miles (6.6 kilometers) per second. The exercise comes in the name of planetary defense, which aims to protect human civilization from any large asteroid that may be on a collision course. For the mission to succeed, scientists need to measure exactly how much the orbit of Dimorphos around its larger companion, Didymos, speeds up. And the DART spacecraft won’t be in any shape to make that measurement itself, so mission personnel are relying on ground-based telescopes to track the aftermath of impact.

If this trial run works, terrific, but even failure would better prepare us to defend Earth. 

Si vis pacem, para [asteroides].

Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus (with minor paraphrasing)

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Photo by Senad Palic on Unsplash

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“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”

― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

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Hilary Mantel, celebrated author of Wolf Hall, dies aged 70

The Booker prize-winning author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, Dame Hilary Mantel, has died aged 70, her publisher HarperCollins has confirmed.

Mantel was regarded as one of the greatest English-language novelists of this century, winning the Booker Prize twice, for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which also won the 2012 Costa book of the year.

Writer and broadcaster Damian Barr said her death is “such a loss”.

“With every book she redefined what words can do,” he tweeted, adding: “She’s the only person I ever interviewed that speaks in whole, flawless paragraphs. I can’t believe we won’t have another book from her.”

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“The pen is in our hands. A happy ending is ours to write.”

— Hilary Mantel 

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“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

― Marcus Aurelius

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Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash

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Are you a writer? Afraid of rejection? Wish you had a thicker skin? Practice getting rejected with the Journal of Universal Rejection!

The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected. Despite that apparent drawback, here are a number of reasons you may choose to submit to the JofUR:

• You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.

• There are no page-fees.

• You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).

• The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.

• You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.

• Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission.

Folks, I conducted my exposure therapy the old-fashioned way, submitting story after story to multiple venues until my skin grew hard as nails. If only I’d known about the JoUR sooner!*

* Seriously though, it’s worth getting past this particular hurdle. Whatever works for you!

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“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

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Just keep going. Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

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I’ve always enjoyed Mary Roach’s science writing (especially Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal). I also have family in Colorado, spent many of my formative mountain-biking and blueberry-picking years trying not to encounter bears*, and passed a conservation truck with a (reassuringly sturdy) bear cage in the back just the other day. 

All of this means that Roach’s essay caught my attention, and so today’s fun bit of reading is about the perils, and promise, of life with bears. It’s an excerpt from her latest book, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.

Black bears are back and in your back yard | New Scientist

With a growing percentage of Fat Alberts, will coexistence eventually become a possibility? Or even a policy? Could we live with bears in the backyard the way we live with raccoons and skunks?

* I grew up around black bears like those in this article. Large and potentially dangerous, sure (the rule was never get between a bear and her cub, because yeah, just no), but they’re not grizzlies or polar bears. They can be a very different kind of story. (One that starts with “nom” and ends with… you may not be around for the end.)

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Would you be this chill with all those mosquitoes on you? I would not. Photo by John Thomas on Unsplash

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