Friday Writing Fodder

In today’s collection of links meant to inspire, amuse, and inform, we have the sad tale of failed polar bear mating, the humorous tale of confiscated bologna at the US-Mexico border, asteroids passing by Earth, footage from Mars, new astronaut requirements, new vertical planes from airlines, the furthest known object in our solar system confirmed, the strange appearances of two moons over Dubai, and the using Zoom error that has a lawyer appearing in court as a cat, among others. I hope you get some ideas.

Male polar bear kills female during mating attempt at zoo. Okay, very sad but nonetheless, could be story fodder. https://people.com/pets/polar-bear-killed-during-mating-attempt-detroit-zoo/

200 pounds of bologna confiscated by Border Patrol on border with Mexico. https://www.foxnews.com/us/border-patrol-agents-confiscate-nearly-200-pounds-of-bologna-found-in-car-at-new-mexico-border

Astronomers confirm orbit of most distant object ever observed in our solar system. https://phys.org/news/2021-02-astronomers-orbit-distant-solar.html

SpaceX just got a contract to launch two future pieces of a moon space station. https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/10/tech/spacex-gateway-launch-contract-scn/index.html

Two moons appear in space over Dubai frightening citizens. https://www.iheart.com/content/2021-02-10-watch-two-moons-appear-in-sky-over-dubai-frightening-confused-residents/

NASA wants to set a new radiation limit for astronauts.  https://www.wired.com/story/nasa-wants-to-set-a-new-radiation-limit-for-astronauts/

Big Asteroid the size of the Washington Monument to zoom past Earth.  https://www.newsweek.com/big-asteroid-size-washington-monument-earth-1568308

NASA releases dramatic Mars video ahead of rover’s arrival  https://www.digitaltrends.com/news/watch-nasas-dramatic-mars-video-ahead-of-rovers-arrival/

Trio rescued after being trapped on an isolated Bermuda island for 33 days survived on this diet. https://www.foxnews.com/us/cuban-nationals-rescued-coast-guard-trapped-deserted-bahamas-island-diet

United Airlines orders 200 vertical takeoff aircraft to deliver passengers to airports. https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/02/united-airlines-orders-200-vertical-takeoff-electric-airplanes/

Scientists think they found a portal to the 5th Dimension. https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a35471480/dark-matter-fermion-portal-fifth-dimension/?fbclid=IwAR2wPPjECVSUmyK4CK1IySE-VDSEn6vYv9wBOkO79lZFa7YzqW48U84C2Nc

Inside the Space Race to Mars: Mars set for visits from spacecraft from UAE, China, and U.S. https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/mars-set-visits-uae-china-u-s-spacecraft-n1257126

And last but not least, Zoom error has lawyer appearing on official court zoom as a cat.https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/mars-set-visits-uae-china-u-s-spacecraft-n1257126

Friday Writing Fodder[

In this week’s story fodder, two asteroid close encounters, awesome shots from space of six planets, an ancient crocodile-fish mashup, lost indigenous fort uncovered after 200 years, a mind blowing time theory, nuclear powered rockets, and missing galactic material discovered. Have a look. I hope they inspire your creativity.

Zero emissions in the U.S. is now pretty cheap https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/01/new-study-a-zero-emissions-us-is-now-pretty-cheap/

NASA mission will zoom by asteroid before returning sample to Earth https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/29/world/nasa-osiris-rex-asteroid-bennu-flyby-april-scn/index.html

The Mars Perseverance landing will be the most difficult ever https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nasa-mars-perseverance-rover-most-difficult-landing-red-planet/?ftag=CNM-00-10aac3a

NASA spacecraft bound for sun takes awesome shot of six planets  https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinandrews/2021/01/31/nasa-spacecraft-bound-for-the-sun-takes-awesome-shot-of-six-planets/?sh=2fdcea316f2f

Ancient fish-crocodile mashup  https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/ancient-fish-water-land-evolution/

Lost Alaskan indigenous fort discovered after 200 years  https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02/lost-alaskan-indigenous-fort-rediscovered-after-200-years/

Scientists are testing a mind blowing time theory in a nuclear reactor https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a35423435/scientists-testing-quantum-time-theory-inside-nuclear-reactor/

Nuclear-powered rockets may push humanity to new worlds  https://bgr.com/2021/02/04/nuclear-rocket-mars-trip/

Student astronomer finds missing galactic matter   https://phys.org/news/2021-02-student-astronomer-galactic.html

A massive asteroid is about to whiz past Earth   https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/space-astronomy/asteroid-2001-fo32-flying-past-earth

WriteTips Schedule Change

Some of you may have noticed my WriteTip production has fallen off. I often struggle or fail to produce four new WriteTips a month as I used to every Wednesday. And sometimes I post old classics. The reasons for this have to do with many things but most responsible is the fact that after posting tips for eight years or so, I am running out of fresh ideas that seem worthy of them four times a month, so from now on I am designating the second and fourth Wednesday of each month WriteTips day. I will try and post them regularly those days, though I may do reruns of classics worth revisiting on occasion. I will continue my weekly Writing Fodder posts, as these are compiled throughout the week with links I find of interest and post that might serve as inspiration or education for writers. But the WriteTips have to slow down, at least for a while, and I hope you understand.

You can always revisit all the WriteTips by going to the WriteTips tab under the Blog menu on my site and scrolling through them back to the very beginning. Believe me, there’s plenty there. Hundreds of posts, and I doubt most of you have seen them all. They are probably the most complimented and signal boosted posts I make and many of them served as inspiration for my nonfiction book How To Write A Novel, portions of which I later turned into WriteTips of their own. In fact, I posted 85% of that book in segments as WriteTips. I appreciate your understanding and your interest. Happy and successful writing!

Friday Writing Fodder

This week’s inspiration is longer than past editions because there were more stories I found of interest this week including ancient nuclear fusion, a Concorde successor, a scientific mystery may be solved, a very cool look at the point of view of different pets, and some historical flashbacks involving atomic bombs falling on North Carolina and others falling into Mexico. Hopefully this gets the creative juices flowing for some of you as it did for me.

Jeff Bezos backs an ancient kind of nuclear fusion https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a35276502/magnetized-target-fusion-technology-jeff-bezos/

Concorde successor AS2 takes a giant leap forward  https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/as2-supersonic-jet-florida-hq/index.html

Remembering the night two atomic bombs fell on North Carolina https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2021/01/remembering-night-two-atomic-bombs-dropped-on-north-carolina/

Saturn’s moon Rhea has a mysterious material on its surface https://www.inverse.com/science/saturns-moon-rhea-has-mysterious-material

Study shows how different pets view their environment https://apple.news/AT8I7ce10R3eWvXLLh02Bnw

Chestburster looks like hair but turns insects to zombies https://dailycaller.com/2021/01/26/chestburster-parasite-hair-turns-insects-zombies-wildlife-experts/?fbclid=IwAR2Mmuuv8uHHcs9sN5U3kj03e5tvvizVKsiLbZeVOy5mH5-Q6mZ3cBj4NYQ

Space missions to watch in 2021 https://www-space-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.space.com/amp/space-missions-to-watch-in-2021?fbclid=IwAR2a0QGU7mdwpcTdaz0zVDtDJ10M2wxLdiHB03epRUa9hLj0jO6MkWNG2eg

Book of The Dead scroll found in Egyptian tomb https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/13-foot-long-book-of-the-dead-scroll-discovered-in-egyptian-tomb?utm_campaign=9yearoldboysearchingwalnut&utm_term=organic&__source=Blastr_Vayner_syfy_Facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=link_ad&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3lNs8LX0FNyNmG4cUvTU3XQBRahrpUxACw7AcxlktylqO0-XXyavP2N_c

Missiles over Mexico  https://rumble.com/vdavet-missiles-over-mexico-a-cold-war-story.html

Are we living in a universe that looks like a black hole to outsiders?  https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/baby-universes-black-holes-dark-matter?fbclid=IwAR0LIcVDoxC4S7dv580zk49eSdyOZcP4gO-G0onJaK3wedAlHBvAPsAIVpo

Has science solved one of history’s mysteries?https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2021/01/has-science-solved-history-greatest-adventure-mystery-dyatlov/

The soccer ball that survived the Challenger disaster and went back into space  https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/30782213/nasa-astronaut-ellison-onizuka-soccer-ball-survived-challenger-explosion

How detectives outsmarted a killer to find a body hidden for 15 years  https://apple.news/ATlLtWWcZRxKQxVFPT0YpMg

 

Announcement—Coming December 2021

I am pleased to announce my return to the world of my beloved Yautja movie universe. My seventeenth anthology as editor, and 4th for Titan will be my latest collaboration with Jonathan Maberry:

ALIENS VS PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY, Edited by Jonathan Maberry & Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a collection of all original stories that bring these two powerful franchises into collision. These stories will be more than bug hunts or monsters fighting one another. We’re amassing a slate of diverse writers who will elevate the themes to feature tales of racism, intolerance, culture clashes, and the horrors of war. Stories will run the gamut from intense psychological drama to nail-biting paranoid horror to humor to poignant tales of people and cultures caught in the grip of war.

Authors: David Barnett – Roshni “Rush” Bhatia – Maurice Broaddus – Curtis Chen – Delilah Dawson – Jess Landry – Jonathan Maberry & Louis Ozawa Changchien – Susanne Lambdin – Seanan McGuire – E.C. Myers – Yvonne Navarro – Chris Ryall – Bryan Thomas Schmidt – Steven Sears – Scott Sigler

15 new stories set in the movie universe, coming in December 2021 from Titan Books. It’s the one anthology fans have most been requesting and Jonathan and I have wanted to do it for 3 years, ever since he did Aliens: Bug Hunt and I did Predator: If It Bleeds, both for Titan, which were great successes.

These are studio approved tie-ins. We’ll reveal more details when the time comes but this exciting project has been fast tracked for quick release and we look forward to bringing it to fans.

Friday Writing Fodder

Round 2 of Friday Writing Fodder, my new regular blog feature, includes links both serious and humorous in nature, but all intriguing with possibilities for future stories. I hope many of you find inspiration here.

Asteroids the size of the Pyramid of Giza to fly by Earth https://apple.news/A8l89QdjZRiCuK9lODqUl9Q

NASA finds a planet with 3 suns. https://apple.news/AmrTA2b3EQL-S_kOleQFCQA

Physicist thinks mysterious space object might be an alien spacecraft https://apple.news/Ap17hGr53QpqxipicQ2GN5w

Orangutan steps up as “Mr. Mom” for daughter after mate dies unexpectedly. https://apple.news/ALibfTpNJRoqqSmJD9Mvc1A

Columbia’s Cocaine Hippos Must Be Culled (Follow up from last week’s hippo story) https://apple.news/A4YBKR86rQ4-v29jOmRSNzA

This fossil shows how dinosaurs peed, pooped, and had sex. https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/19/world/dinosaur-fossil-sex-study-scn/index.html and fossilized butthole shows how dinosaurs have sex. https://apple.news/ANuVE3VN1QDO3FzdiQkrLxQ

Spotted and oddly striped zebras may be warning for species’ future. https://apple.news/AgQi61wXHRm6QkLUjBD1_bA

WriteTip: Using Location Scouting For Enhancing Descriptions and Settings

This week I want to look at a technique I’ve begun to use which has really enhanced my writing. One of the areas I struggled with the most as a beginning writer was descriptions. I came from a screenwriting background. I just wasn’t use to going into so much visceral detail, and I struggled to build a vocabulary that seemed authentic to my voice in writing them. So I have spent a lot of time thinking about and examining how to write visceral passages better.

When I started the John Simon Thrillers, I set it in 2029 Kansas City. And I decided to use as many authentic locations as I could for the story to lend it a sense of authenticity and to entertain local readers both. But I figured if I was going to write those locations, I needed to know what they were really like, so I began taking road trips to scout locations, much like they do for films and television. I took pictures, made voice memos, and even wrote a few sample passages describing what I saw, what I smelled, tasted, heard, and so on. This really leant my John Simon novels a nuance that readers seemed to enjoy so I have employed it as much as I can since (COVID period being excepted).

And there are a number of tools besides a map or GPS and my car that have added to my ability to find and scout these locations and write them well I thought I would share with you.

First, Google maps is fantastic because it not only has the geographic (default) mode but a satellite mode that shows actual pictures of places, and in some you can even do street view and view the area in 3D. This, of course, enables you to write descriptions in as much detail as you desire but also to pick out any unique features you want to examine more closely on your scout. Oh yes, you should still scout, because Google maps is only updated so often and it can’t capture the sounds, taste, smell, and so on of the actual place—things that your characters can recall as standing out most to make the descriptions jump off the page.

Second, do you have local film commission or a state one? And do they have a locations database? In Kansas City, the database is fantastic—filled with pictures and addresses of all kinds of locations, many of which I was unaware of and can use in my stories. You can find that here.

Third,  good notebook or digital recorder is essential. For one scout, I had a longtime resident drive around with me for a couple hours and tell me all about the city, leading me to various locations that had historical importance or other significance for him and describing his memories. This was also a great way to discover cool locations to use in my stories, many of which I would have overlooked or not been made aware of easily on my own. I also use the recorder/notebook to record my own impressions in person at each location I scout, so I get a fresh bird’s eye perspective of what it’s like to experience them first hand and what really stands out.

Fourth, I recommend checking out the Images of America series of local books to see if there are any on your area. Several cover Kansas City in various detail, including one about the history of all the neighborhoods that really adds fun details you can drop into your story to add depth and nuance. These books are available at any bookstore, especially big chains in large numbers in the travel section but also via Amazon and so on.

Fifth, visit local museums and ask to talk to a curator or historian. Tell them what you are doing and ask if they have any insights or suggestions. You will be surprised what you come up with. And may even find a new friend or source willing to be available as a resource for answering questions and so on.

Sixth, talk to friends and family who live in the area or nearby and ask them what the interesting features are and what stands out in their memories. This is a great way to pick up little real descriptions that sound like people talk which you can drop into your stories.

In the end, putting in this effort will not only enhance your Setting choices themselves but the Descriptions you write about them, making them seem far more authentic than you could have managed using just your imagination or long term memory. For local readers, who can be annoyed by writers who just guess and get little details wrong, it will earn you respect. For nonlocal readers who may decide to go visit favorite locations from your stories, it will do the same when they experience the very same sensations you describe in your books upon their own visits. More than that, you can write with a confidence and surety that you “got it right” on a whole new level that will strengthen everything you write for that project.

That’s how I use location scouting to enhance my writing. What unique techniques do you use? I’d love to hear your ideas in comments. For what it’s worth.

Friday Writing Fodder

I’ve decided to add a new regular Friday feature, in which I gather links to the articles I discover throughout the week and post to my social media as potential story fodder. Perhaps someone other than my immediate circle needs inspiration and can find it here, if nothing else some of it is quite entertaining, some of it quite informative, and the rest at least interesting (I hope).

Dire Wolves are real. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2021/01/dire-wolf-dna-study-reveals-surprises/

Italy braces for its biggest mafia trial in decades. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-55633091?fbclid=IwAR1wixB7HU2Yw9ZaXS3KhCdfV7RPNoaPzVgCDDbDdckZQcs789WTInh-1uM

Rare Superplanet unlike any other discovered
https://www.foxnews.com/science/super-earth-nasa-discovers-10b-year-old-planet

Wanting out of the house despite COVID restrictions, wife puts husband on leash and takes him for a walk. Yes, you read that right.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55631198

Polar Vortex… let the disaster stories commence.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55631198

Columbia is overrun by hippos.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/01/11/invasive-hippos-escobar-colombia-castrate/

Astronomers keep watch on nearby planet with signals that seem technological in origin
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/01/proxima-centauri-blc1/617635/

Human culture lasted years longer than originally thought by 20k years.
https://phys.org/news/2021-01-human-culture-years-longer-thought.html

New super fast space ship
https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/deep-space/a35133014/jupiter-nuclear-plane/

Well, so there you have it. Some interesting reads that I hope inspire you and stimulate your imagination, or at least keep you entertained. Tune in every Friday for more.

Apologies for a missed WriteTip.

I missed this week’s WriteTip. There are lots of reasons. Discombobulating and stress worrying after last week’s insurrection in D.C., busyness—I have sold 3 anthologies in 6 weeks and all have required a lot of time for negotiations and general set up, depression (yes, even when good things are happening, that’s why it’s a disease),  and also improper sleep. In any case, for those who always come looking for them, my apologies. I will try and make sure I do one next week.

Announcement: Coming in 2022–my 16th anthology, second Young Adult anthology

I am pleased to announce that Blackstone Publishing has bought a pitch for my 16th anthology project, and second YA anthology which is The Hitherto Secret Experiments Of Marie Curie (working title). Co-edited with Henry Herz, the anthology will feature 18 dark stories of science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror set during Marie Curie’s high school years in Poland telling tales of her and her classmate’s antics. Our authors are: Scott Westerfeld, Jane Yolen, Mylo Carbia, Alethea Kontis, Jonathan Maberry, Scott Sigler, Stacia Deutsch, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Beth Durst, Lissa Price, Christine Taylor-Butler, Jo Whittemore, Dee Leone, Susanne Lambdin, Emily McCosh, Steve Pantazis, Henry Herz, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt & GP Charles.

The project is set for 2022 release simultaneously in print and audio, formats to be determined later. We will have more specific details, including release date and so on, as things get closer. This should be a fun and fascinating project. We hope to include as much real science and history as possible while also having fun with the subject matter and the fascinating character of one of the most important and well known female scientists in world history, a double Nobel winner.

Here’s the announcement that ran in Publisher’s Marketplace:

More to come…