Today in Weird Science News: The Sarcophagus is a Letdown, Your Early Memories May Be Fake, and Ancient Dude Thought Getting Laid Saved Lives

If you’re like me, you were probably excited to hear an ancient sarcophagus had been found in Alexandria, Egypt. I mean, according to all the movies I’ve ever seen on the subject, this should introduce us to an ancient curse or a mummy zombie—hey, there’s a new category of TV shows for you—or maybe something more rational, like a nice plague. Or at least a stash of gold treasure.

Weird Science News: Sarcphogus is a Letdown

Instead, when investigators opened the box, all they found was…old bones. Yeah, exactly what you’d expect in a sarcophagus. And also, raw sewage that somehow leaked inside.  I wonder what kind of warranty they offered on coffins in 332 B.C? Think the company that made it is still around?

Also, some wiseass started a change.org petition asking for permission to drink the mummy sewage juice because… people are fucking nuts, that’s why.

Okay, maybe the end of the world was too much to hope for. But another interesting piece of science news this week caught my attention. Researchers in England say that memories from before the age of 2 are probably fake. In one study, they found that forty percent of participants claimed to have memories from their “preverbal” stage between 9 and 12 months of age. The study’s author says people can’t actual form memories at this age, and are most likely thinking they remember an event based on pictures they’ve seen or stories they were told.

I found this interesting, as I recently had a conversation with someone who didn’t think it was possible for a character in a story to remember something that happened when she was three. I thought that was silly, because I can clearly remember the plots of Sesame Street episodes I watched at that age, what I got for Christmas that year, what I wanted but didn’t get, and what my favorite t-shirt was.

So I did some Googling, and what I found was that most people don’t remember anything before the age of 3, and many memories from that time period often fade by the age of 6 or 7. The average age of a first memory is estimated to be about 3.5.

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Then there’s the really exciting science news of the week: An ancient Grego-Roman dude named Galen, who was presumably whatever passed for a doctor two thousand years ago, had a fascinating theory: According to an old piece of papyrus paper that was recently translated, Galen believed women could die of “hysterical apnea” due to lack of sex. In other words, he thought that if women didn’t get laid they’d just spontaneously stop breathing. I’m going to assume he also thought he was saving a life every time he did the horizontal tango. I can just picture the bumper sticker on his chariot: “Save water, save yourself, shower with me.” Or maybe he wrote on public restroom stall doors, “For hysterical apnea treatment, call 55-GALEN.”

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Author J. B. Hogan On His New Time Travel Book, Time and Time Again: The Curious Case of Mr. Stephen White

The opening story of Time And Time Again is set in a cave above a river bank. I chose that because my cousin and I found a large cave on a bluff above a river several years ago. I had written some time-travel stories before and this cave seemed like a good place to begin the adventures or experiences that the protagonist, Stephen White, encounters.


Name: J. B. Hogan
Book Title: Time And Time Again
Genre: Time Travel
Bio: J. B. Hogan grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas but moved to Southern California in 1961 where he finished high school and attended junior college before entering the U. S. Air Force in 1964. After the military, he went back to college, receiving a Ph.D. in English from Arizona State University in 1979. He has published over 250 stories and poems and seven books: Tin Hollow, Fallen, The Rubicon, Living Behind Time and Losing Cotton with Oghma Creative Media and The Apostate and Angels in the Ozarks with Pen-L Publishing. He is a former president of the Washington County Historical Society and chairman of the Fayetteville Historic District Commission. He plays upright bass in East of Zion, a family band that plays acoustic Americana and roots music. His next book, Time And Time Again (time-travel stories featuring the same protagonist), is scheduled to be released May 15, 2018.
J. B. Hogan is the author of the new #scifi time travel book, Time and Time Again. Time travel books 2018.
J. B. Hogan is the author of the new #scifi time travel book, Time and Time Again.

Questions About Hogan’s Latest Book, the Science Fiction Time Travel Collection Time and Time Again:

  • How did you come up with the idea for your book? The opening story of Time And Time Again is set in a cave above a river bank. I chose that because my cousin and I found a large cave on a bluff above a river several years ago. I had written some time travel stories before and this cave seemed like a good place to begin the adventures or experiences that the protagonist, Stephen White, encounters.
 
  • What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I had to do a lot of research for this book: a raid by Quantrill-like raiders during the Civil War, the false execution that Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevski experienced in 1849, the actual process of a Roman crucifixion – almost every story required some amount of research.
  • How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title was chosen after several other options were discarded. One early title option was Time Witness. I usually come up with a title very quickly but this one required me to write out maybe 12-15 versions and then I went back and forth until settling on Time And Time Again – this seemed to work best because it indicates the recurring nature of Stephen’s strange travels.
  • What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?
I am most involved in a local history nonfiction book right now. I do not have any plans to do a sequel to Time And Time Again.
  • Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
Sometimes people who know me think that I’m a character in my books but that’s not really the case. My attitudes and such are certainly reflected in my stories, events, locations, characters and dialogue but I’m not a character. The book that might be closest to this is Losing Cotton because I use more autobiographical material in it than in any other work by far. People think Frank Mason, the protagonist as a young man in Losing Cotton, is me but my novel Living Behind Time, with Frank as an older man, contains 11 major sections and not one of those ever occurred to me in my own life. People like to identify you in your own works but it’s not really true.
  • If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
For Time And Time Again – the Stephen White character would probably work for an actor like Jonah Hill or Jack Black.
  • If someone is brand new to your work, what book do you think they should start with?
I think I might aim them at Living Behind Time. It’s a road trip novel crossing the U. S. from west coast to east. The protagonist relearns who he is and simultaneously relearns what the pre-911 country is/was about as well.
  • Is there anything interesting about this particular book we haven’t covered yet? If so, what?
I think it might help readers to know that Stephen White of Time And Time Again is not a traditional or stock heroic character – much of the time Stephen is baffled by his experience and often terrified by it. Hopefully he is likable enough for us to go through these intensely strange events with him.

Questions About Writing:

  • What started you on the path to writing for a living?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. It was a natural path to me. My mother was a poet and musician and she trained me in a sense to be a writer.
  • Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you like about that path? What do you dislike about it?
I am published by a small, royalty-paying press. After decades of grinding out book after book, I am most gratified to have my work in print.
  • What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
Like almost all writers – hundreds of rejections over many years. Loss of writing energy from time to time – problems we all have to overcome.
  • What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?
The upside is selling a few copies of your work and finding people who appreciate it and you. The downside is not selling enough copies and not reaching a larger audience.
  • What does a typical workday look like for you?
I usually do research in the mornings and then the afternoon and evening are set aside for writing or writing-related activities.
  • What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favorite?
Research and writing are my favorite parts. My least favorite would be the editing and reviewing process once the book goes to the publisher.
  • What does your writing space look like?
I have a long thin table with my laptop and writing materials on it. It’s a little cluttered and someday I would like to have a large, wing-type desk so I could lay out my work all around me.
  • Why do you write? What keeps you motivated during creative slumps?
Like others, I seem compelled to write. During those slumps – and I have had several, even tried to quit writing cold turkey once – I just wait and every time, so far, the drive has returned of its own accord.
  • Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
I am an outliner – excessively so. I have actually killed maybe 3-4 books by over-outlining them.
  • What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
My main interest outside research and writing is music. I play upright bass in a family band, East of Zion.
  • What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
It feels really good when you get an unsolicited compliment about you as a writer or your work.
  • Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
I would probably say Living Behind Time, but I feel strongly about all of my books or I would not have tried to get them published. I feel that my first book, The Apostate, Fallen a collection of my short stories, as well as The Rubicon, poetry (with some very short fiction tossed in) have all been a bit overlooked. Tin Hollow and Mexican Skies, my last two books, and Losing Cotton are up there, too.
  • Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?
I think many people believe we are all rich and famous – which is pretty comical in reality.
  • What was your job before you started writing full time?
I was briefly a college literature professor, then worked many years as a technical writer.
  • Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers? 
Don’t give up. Keep working. Keep improving. Believe in your work. Look at your work realistically and always try to get better. And I repeat – never give up.
J. B. Hogan's new #scifi time travel book, Time and Time Again. Time Travel books 2018.
J. B. Hogan’s new #scifi time travel book, Time and Time Again.

Bonus Questions:

  • Who are some of your favorite authors?
Because my doctorate is in literature, my tastes run to the classics and to traditional authors. I love the 19th century Russians (Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Chekhov). I love Stephen Crane, Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor – also James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez – on and on and on.
  • Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?
Because I’m a genre-buster, there’s all kinds. But in sci-fi, I’m a big fan of Heinlein, Asimov, Frank Herbert, and especially Arthur C. Clarke.
  • What are some great books you’ve read recently?
I frequently reread Hemingway and O’Connor short stories. I read certain passages from Huckleberry Finn a couple of times a year. Lately I’ve been reading or rereading a lot of poetry – Coleridge, Poe, E. E. Cummings, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Randall Jarrell and so on.
  • What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?
I like to read Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels.
  • What are your top three favorite books of all time?
The Brothers Karamazov, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and 100 Years of Solitude.
  • Can you recommend any new or upcoming authors to us?
I would recommend the work of my friend John Biggs. I would also recommend the books of the late Robert Stone. There are many, many to choose from.

Author J. B. Hogan can be found on Facebook here.

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V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Sneak Peek of Destination: Titan from Author Liza O’Connor

Destination: Titan

By

Liza O’Connor

Blurb

With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.

Destination Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Destination Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

Excerpt

So, you’re telling me I was chosen over every other biochemist in the world because my favorite color is orange.” Tamara tugged at a strand of her short blonde hair. Her mentor was the brightest man she knew, but this didn’t make any sense at all!

Maxwell’s eyes sparkled. “I love the way your brain tunnels in and isolates the key differentiator.”

The fact I like the color orange should not be a key differentiator.”

Her mentor shrugged and paced the small, open space of the conference room. “Well, when all other things were equal, it became so. This project requires a top biochemist under the age of thirty, in excellent health, unmarried, with no constraints that would prevent traveling. There were quite a few scientists who met those requirements. Therefore, further differentiators were selected. The ability to work with teenagers dropped out all but two, and your clear preference for the color orange put you securely on top of the last remaining candidate.”

But it’s a meaningless differentiator unless we’re going someplace that only has the color orange.” She fell silent as she considered that possibility. “Exactly how far will we be traveling?”

Quite a distance.” His eyes twitched several times.

They only did that when he was conflicted, which told her she was asking the right question to discover whatever it was that he was under orders not to reveal. “Will we be traveling on Earth or away from it?”

The twitches intensified.

Tam, I cannot tell you anything until you’ve agreed to go.”

Jesus! We’re going to Titan, aren’t we?”

He removed his reading glasses and pressed his hand over his left eye to still the twitches. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

Titan: Saturn’s orange moon. Forty percent the size of Earth and rich in life-supporting chemicals. Bedrock composed of ice, rivers and seas of liquid methane, and enough hydrocarbons to heat the Earth for a thousand years.

What is the purpose of the trip?”

I cannot tell you anything until you agree to go.”

Well, I cannot give you my answer until I know if we’re going to harvest the hydrocarbons for Earth or if we’re going to try to colonize it.”

Max now had both eyes covered with his hands. “Tam, I cannot tell you. You will just have to use that brilliant mind of yours to figure it out all on your own.”

His response told her that something he’d said had provided the answer. She focused on the ability to work with teenagers. You wouldn’t take teenagers on a ship to harvest, but you would to start a colony. By the time they arrived, they’d be young adults possessing a full span of child-bearing years.

I’ll go.”

Sales Link

Destination: Titan

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About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

Social Networks

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT

LIZA O’CONNOR

Investigate these sites:

Liza’s Multiverse Blog

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

All the Many Books Liza has written

Destination: Titan
is only 99 cents

to ring in book 2,

ARRIVAL: TITAN

Warning: This event will be your only chance to buy this for 99 cents

until next year.

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Arrival: Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Arrival: Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

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 V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Interview with Leonora Meriel, Author of The Unity Game

New Science Fiction Author Interview

This week I have a special guest on my blog, science fiction author Leonora Meriel.
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Ontario. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a major law firm. In 2003 she moved to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA. During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development. In 2008, she returned to her dream of being a writer, and completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine, published October 1 2016. Her second book, The Unity Game was released on May 1 2017.

Fast Fifteen with Leonora Meriel:

  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The plot of “The Unity Game” came from my desire to write about New York. I had lived there for several years and been inspired by the intensity and the drive of the Wall Street life. However there are many books about New York, so I decided to write about it using parallel stories that would put it into a new perspective: these were a planet of highly evolved aliens and an after-life dimension.

  2.  How did you come up with the title of your book?

I find titles extremely difficult but when I came up with this one I knew it was right. I had pages of ideas for it and word plays and I had consulted with all the novel’s beta readers. I had the word “unity” and “game” in different list variations and at last put them together – and it was perfect for the book!

3.  What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?

I’m not planning any sequels as I have too many new ideas for works. I’m currently writing the first drafts of several projects and I hope the first will be launched in May 2019. I like to challenge myself with my writing and delve into different genres, while improving my skills in my main genre. I’m now working on a novella, a children’s book, a work of poetry and planning an epic – there’s plenty to keep me busy.

4.  If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?

David, the main character of “The Unity Game,” is an intense and driven New York investment banker, whose world starts slipping away when he has some alien experiences. Christian Bale would be perfect for this, as he self-destructs so brilliantly. There is also an ethereal, non-sexual, highly evolved alien that Cate Blanchett would suit perfectly. She is mesmerisingly beautiful so the lack of action wouldn’t be a problem. The third character is an after-life guide for my London barrister who dies in the first scene, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather show me around the after-life than Tom Hanks.

5.  If someone is brand new to your work, what book do you think they should start with?

My two books are entirely different so it depends on their reading preferences. My debut novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is intense, emotional and poetic. I thought at first it would appeal more strongly to female readers but in fact men have been some of my greatest supporters. My second novel is more wide-ranging and philosophical and has Science Fiction elements. So, if someone loved speculative fiction then they could start with either, but otherwise, they should simply pick the one that appeals most.

6.  Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you like about that path? What do you dislike about it?

I am very happily self-published. When I had completed my debut novel, it got picked up by a London agent who believed strongly in it. After a year, she hadn’t been able to sell it, and I decided to go down the independent writer’s route. If I hadn’t had an agent (and feedback from publishers) to validate it, I might have put it in a dark drawer and kept writing, but I am so glad I didn’t – not all my readers enjoy my work but I have had dozens of amazing reviews from people who found it strange and uplifting and different. It was one of the best decisions of my life, and I now absolutely love being an independent author and controlling my entire creative output. The only possible downside is the amount of time you have to spend on marketing, but as I have a business background, I don’t mind this and see it as part of the day job.

7.  What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?

I love the ability to have long periods to think, as a writer. In an office environment, it’s difficult to have any quiet or calm without looking like you aren’t doing anything. As a writer, you can go for a long walk and come up with a brilliant structure or dialogue or scene. You can plan difficult things through with hours of silence. It’s rare and wonderful.

The downside, for me, is the lack of ego in the writer’s workplace. In an office, you see colleagues working on projects you can contribute to and compete with, and there’s a natural drive to success. In a writer’s space, you have bookshelves of geniuses staring down at you as you type out a mediocre sentence, and then the doubts in your head to fight to stop deleting that sentence (because it’s a first draft and can be improved with editing!) You don’t have a handy room full of average-talent writers and super-successful writers to keep you motivated and self-confident.

8.  What does a typical workday look like for you?

Writing is my full time job, and my day is divided into mornings, when I create – working on first drafts or re-writing, and afternoons, when I do marketing tasks and administration. As an independent author, I effectively run my own publishing business, which means there is always a large amount of work to cover. However, the early writing hours are sacred.

9.  Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?

I start off with many different ideas in my head, and I simply try writing about all of them. Some story threads fizzle out after a few thousand words and I understand that I didn’t have a very deep interest in the themes behind them. Others expand and expand until a novel starts coming into shape. I often then integrate the smaller ideas as themes into the larger works. A novel has to have a question or a theme so burning, that it will carry you through up to five or even ten years of your life, and thousands of words.

10. Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers? 

For aspiring authors: the main thing to do is write, write, write. Learn how to complete a piece of work professionally. Set a word count (short story, novella, poem, novel), then write the first draft. Edit the work as well as you can. Then let it go. Write another one. It will be better. Then write something longer. This way, you build up confidence in your ability to work professionally, and also learn to grow and develop your skills.

11.  Who are some of your favorite authors?

I read as much as I possibly can – probably a book a week on average. I love literary fiction the most, but I’ve started to read more science fiction as well, and I try to keep a balance of at least one non-fiction book per ten fiction. Authors I love start from literary classics such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, to current writers such as David Mitchell and Michael Cunningham and Eleanor Catton. I particularly love surrealism and great writing that heads in a strange direction, such as Haruki Murakami and Aimee Bender.

12.  What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m interested in South Africa at the moment, and I just finished “Cry, My Beloved Country,” by Alan Paton – a truly extraordinary book. For a contrast, I then read “Disgrace” by J. M. Coetzee which gave a very different picture of the country. In the last months I’ve finished “The Three Body Problem” by Liu Cixin and “The Dispossesed” by Ursula Le Guin – both powerful, breathtaking works of Science Fiction.

13.  What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?

I try to read as widely as possible, so in my downtime I would read something not directly related to writing skills. I’ve been reading a lot of indie published books lately, and enjoying the many genres and styles you can find there, and also I love reading books that my children are studying at school so that I can have a deep conversation with them. I’m also a member of several book clubs and I love someone else deciding the choice for me once a month!

14.  What are your top three favorite books of all time?

That’s a really difficult question! I would have to choose 3 that I return to again and again. The first is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Its themes and language and beauty haunt me. The second is “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. When Michael Cunningham published his personal interpretation of this in “The Hours,” that also became a favourite. For my third, I would choose Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” as it constantly inspires me to be bold in my ideas, expression of motivations and language. It reminds me that in writing, everything is possible.

15.  Can you recommend any new or upcoming authors to us?

Jess Kidd is quite a new writer, who lives locally to me and visited my book group. I greatly enjoyed her debut novel “Himself” set in an Irish town. It was bold and imaginative and sprawling.

Across the Atlantic, I loved “We The Animals” – the debut of Justin Torres – a furious, cathartic novel. I would read anything new he wrote.

For indie writers, I love the idiosyncratic work of Mari Reiza, such as West B’Egg and Marmotte’s Journey.

Book Description and Reviews:

“The Unity Game” is science fiction with philosophy

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?

A New York banker is descending into madness.

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Goodreads * Amazon

Reviews for The Unity Game

“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer

“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

About the Author

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.

In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.

During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.

In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

Website

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 V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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How to Develop a Writing Habit

I’ll admit I have never formed a daily writing habit. I’ve made several attempts at Nanowrimo. The first time, I thought I was going to write my first published #scifi book, Stupid Humans, in the month of November. I started in November of 2012, and I finished in November…of 2014. Whatever, they didn’t say what year it had to be.

Writing: It’s Complicated

Admittedly, my 176,000+ word first draft was way longer than the 50,000 words required to complete Nanowrimo. Still, I didn’t work on it daily, even during November of 2012. I did work on it several days in a row, then I burned out and wrote maybe every couple days for the rest of the month.

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After November ended, I got even lazier and less motivated. I wrote a couple chapters every couple months, then forgot about it for a couple more months. In November of 2012, the store I worked in closed, and I decided to take the opportunity to finish my book while I had the time, so I finally did. I should have used Nanowrimo as an opportunity to develop a daily writing habit, but unfortunately, I didn’t.

After that, I spent a couple years writing two more manuscripts, at one point writing a political satire in three months after losing yet another job (this time to a ten-dollar-an-hour-no-benefits intern). After writing and publishing that one under another pen name, I went back to writing #scifi, slowly working my way through another novel, about a guy who invents a pill to make people more trusting. Then I spent a lot of time writing blog posts, doing interviews, and generally avoiding doing very much writing.

I did manage to write about a chapter a week of a parallel universe book last year, and got to about 35,000 words—maybe a halfway point. Then I got the idea that I wanted to make Stupid Humans a series. So I ended up shelving the parallel universe story, which I will come back to at some point, and starting on the second Stupid Humans book for Nanowrimo of last year.

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Developing a Daily Writing Habit

I’ll confess, I cheated. I started writing in October and still didn’t finish in November. I did finish in December, by continuing to write daily. Okay, most days. Nobody’s perfect.

So I finished the second book and started on the third. I considered making writing 1,000 words a day my New Year’s resolution for 2018 (although I usually refuse to make resolutions because I kind of like myself just the way I am). Anyway, I made an exception and decided on an unofficial resolution to try to write 1,000 words a day most days. If I did that, I could write 365,000 words a year! That’s like four books if I don’t go over 100K on any of them and one is only 65K.

Developing a Writing Habit That Works For Me

Okay, that may have been overreaching a bit. A week in, I’d written on maybe two days. I blamed it on editing the second book, and the trust pill book. Or on having to do writing for freelance clients, like press releases and ad copy. (At one point, I saved a client from who knows how many lawsuits by ensuring his brochures didn’t actually say yoga classes could cure diabetes.) But, I did not manage to write 1,000 words a day of my own stuff.

I gave myself a week off to try to finish editing the second book, finally finished, and decided to start over. I did better with that, and have managed to write most days since then. I missed some Saturdays. I didn’t manage a thousand words every day—some were only 500. I decided writing SOMETHING every day was better than writing nothing. I took another week off last week to finish editing the trust pill book, something I expected to be done by now. Unfortunately, when I went back to the beginning and started rereading it, I realized I hated the first fifth of the book and it needed serious surgery, including a couple complete chapterectomies. I’m not sure why I didn’t fix this stuff before—maybe being away from the manuscript for months gave me perspective and allowed me to grow as a writer. Or maybe I got Hemingway’s famous advice about “Write drunk, edit sober,” backwards. At any rate, I took some time to fix that manuscript up, then got back to writing.

It was easier than I thought. I wrote 1,000 words today, and yesterday, and I plan to tomorrow as well. The biggest thing that has helped me keep this up is starting as soon as I get off the treadmill in the morning. I toss around story ideas in my head while I run, and I figure I’m never going to have better blood flow to my brain than during and right after a workout, so that’s what I do. After I get out of the shower, I make a vegan protein shake with Sunwarrior protein powder and peanut butter, take some active B vitamins that are supposed to have a nootropic effect (although that’s probably bullshit, I like to think it makes my brain work better), and sit down to write.

But the most important thing I do for my daily writing habit is I force myself to write something before I do anything else—check my email, go on Facebook, etc. That way I write a thousand words before I get into an argument about whether Star Wars or Star Trek is better (Star Trek all the way!). Sure, I still waste time arguing with people on social media (probably more than I should), but at least I got some writing done first, right?

I also remind myself that it’s okay if I don’t have any good ideas for what to write next. One of the best things you can do as a writer is give yourself permission to write something that’s not perfect. If I don’t have a good idea, I write my best bad idea and hope I think of something better. Usually, I do, and I can go back and delete the crap I wrote before it. I guess I could amend Hemingway’s famous advice by saying write drunk, or at least without inhibition, and edit sober, or at least with a very critical eye.

How did you develop a daily writing habit?

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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How Do Nerds Really Spend Friday Night?

Nerds-are-Cool

What Do Nerds Do On Friday Night?

Me, watching #StrangerThings2:
“Bob, you idiot, you know BASIC coding but you don’t know not to walk off and leave the gun behind when you’re being chased by a hungry demagorgon from the Upside Down?
“Run, Bob, run!
“Don’t just stand there and stare at each other, there’s a fucking demagorgon after you, RUN!
“Someone shoot the fucker already!
“Is that the best shotgun they made in 1985? That sucks. Where are the guns from The Matrix? Whoops, wrong era.
“OMFG phones that were attached to walls and you couldn’t put them on SILENT and no caller ID, how did people live like that?
“Why is it that Max’s absentee parents are the only ones to notice their kid’s been gone for three days or something?
“Is the old, gray-haired doctor the dude from Seinfeld or the guy from Mad About You, because I know he was on one of those shows before he went gray.”
How Nerds Spend Saturday Night Watching Stranger Things V. R. Craft @vrcraftauthor #scifi
How Nerds Spend Saturday Night Watching Stranger Things
Then CBS All Access emailed me that my last payment didn’t go through, probably because Citibank sent me a new card with a totally different number for no apparent reason (I didn’t lose my old one, it wasn’t compromised). Unfortunately that was the credit card I used for Amazon, Paypal, and everything else online, so it’s been a real pain in the ass going in and adding the new card number to everything. Thought I got them all, then CBS sends me this message:
We are having trouble processing your credit card. We don’t want you to miss out on your favorite CBS shows and live TV, so please update your payment information as soon as possible to avoid any interruptions.
So I Google, “When does Star Trek: Discovery return?”
January 7.
Okay, I think I’ll remember to add my new card number in January so I don’t have to pay for December for no reason. HAHAHA, screw you, CBS. Guess the new card thing worked out okay after all.
#StrangerThings2 #HowNerdsSpendSaturdayNight #ArmchairMonsterHunter

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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A Klingon in Congress? Why the Hell Not?

All he has to do is say, “Mr. President, your tiny little hands can’t handle holding the Sword of Kahless,” and watch that guy implode in the biggest Twitterstorm ever.

Celebrities Running for Office, What About Fictional Characters?

In the latest Star Trek news, recently I read that actor J. G. Hertzler, who played General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is going to run for Congress in New York. Apparently he plans to campaign in character as Mark Twain.

A Klingon in Congress? Why the Hell Not? V. R. Craft @vrcraftauthor Klingons
A Klingon in Congress? Why the Hell Not?

 

That’s fine if you’re into classics (I’m not), but I’d really like to see him campaign as General Martok. Hey, we already have a reality show host for president, why not a Klingon in Congress? I’m sure we can find a Klingon language translator at the UN, right? Plus he might come in handy if the reality show host gets us into World War 3. Better yet, Martok might be able to do what the rest of Congress can’t—get rid of the reality show host. All he has to do is say, “Mr. President, your tiny little hands can’t handle holding the Sword of Kahless,” and watch that guy implode in the biggest Twitterstorm ever.

A Klingon in Congress? What Next?

 

This got me thinking about other Star Trek characters I’d like to see in Congress. (Yes, I know Hertzler isn’t really Martok, but he isn’t really Twain either, so let’s just go with it.)

  • Quark. You have to admit, Congress would be the perfect place for him! The lobbying, the bribes, the backstabbing, the pettiness, the back room deals…whoa, wait a minute. Holy shit, I think Congress has been infiltrated by the Ferengi! I always thought that Ryan guy had weirdly large ears—and don’t even get me started on all the big  heads in Congress…
  • Q. He doesn’t need to be in Congress all the time, he just needs to show up whenever things there get boring. Then he can wittily tell them all  how boring and predictable they are.
  • The Grand Nagus. Wait, never mind, he’s definitely already there…
  • Elim Garak. Not so hung up on money, but he’s a master at lies, deceit, half-truths….
  • Spock. JUST KIDDING! Clearly Congress is no place for someone logical.
  • Captain Janeway. If she can use the war between Species 8472 and the Borg to her advantage, maybe she can do something with the squabbling morons in Congress. If that doesn’t work, we’ll just send them all to the Delta Quadrant…

How about you? With so many celebrities running for office, what fictional character would you like to see in Congress and why?

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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