5 Interesting Links for 04-20-2018

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Rural Access (Technology)

There have been many promises of expanding Internet access in the United States, but remote areas in rural America are still under-served. This article talks of an effort to craft a solution designed for the unique complications in Appalachia that has been remarkably successful.
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/paax9n/rural-america-is-building-its-own-internet-because-no-one-else-will

Editing (Writing)

A new writing evaluation that focuses on specific writing weaknesses rather than grammar. I didn’t agree 100% with what it highlighted, but it caught a few things I’d missed, so it might be worth giving a trial run. (Via Jane Friedman)
https://editor.typely.com/

Blurbs (Promotion)

This is a book blogger’s list of red flags in book blurbs. Worth checking against yours to confirm you didn’t do any of this.
http://www.romancerehab.com/blog/the-top-10-romance-novel-blurb-blunders-we-never-want-to-see-again

Steampunk (Art)

A glimpse into the procurement experience for scraps destined to claim a new life as steampunk art.
http://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/turning-scrap-steampunk

Adopting (Cats)

It’s important to pay attention to the personality of your new furry family member over any general advice, but this article offers a reasonable starting point for introducing a new cat.
https://www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/clearing-the-air/2016/06/6-tips-to-make-your-new-rescue-cat-feel-right-at-home/

A Country Masquerade by Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesThough I haven’t seen the anime in years, this has been one of my favorites from the director since the first time I saw the movie. I’ve always known, sort of in the back of my head, that it was drawn from a novel, but when I came across the eBook recently, it was time to see that side of the picture.

The novel in no ways disappoints. The movie successfully recreated the feel of the book, which is one of the reasons I liked it so much. I need to rewatch the anime now to figure out what was different, but the sad, if only in her perspective, tale of Sophie Hatter, the oldest of three in a fairytale world, unfolds beautifully.

Sophie believes her role in life is predetermined by the common themes of the fairytale, so much so that she’s blind to her own reality. Her two younger sisters are both self-absorbed and worried about her in their own ways, while the truth behind her stepmother doesn’t come clear until much later in the story.

There are a lot of seeds that lack enough information to give me answers and yet draw me in with the possibilities and keep me guessing. As I go through my notes, I see for one character several suggestions of who he might be that are later proven false and yet turn out to be true in a weird way. Calcifer, the fire demon Sophie meets in Howl’s castle, is handing Sophie hints she’s slow to see, but which start to paint a very different picture of the story she’s joined than she expected.

Howl, on the other hand, is the opposite of what Sophie believed him to be, and yet, the more she knows him, the more she sees how the stories are true. Where her enchantment both matured her and freed Sophie from her own fears, Howl is immature to a fault and everyone around him engages in the process of helping him navigate the world despite his nature.

It’s a silly little story with a silly ending, but at the same time, it’s a moving tale of fears and relationships, and of laying claim to your place in the world instead of accepting what you believe is true.

I very much enjoyed the time I spent in this world and with these characters. Even better, the edition I have has an interview with the author at the back that reveals there are more tales available in the fairytale world with these characters. I found the interview a delight as her engagement with the characters is very true to the feel of the world as a whole.

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New Story, New Venture: Exploring Kickstarter with BooksGoSocial

Vizions of the Future: A Kickstarter Anthology from BooksGoSocial
Have you ever supported something on Kickstarter? I’ve backed many projects, but this is my first time on the other side of the picture.

BooksGoSocial (BGS), an author-driven marketing company headed by Laurence O’Bryan, is exploring the world of Kickstarter through an anthology series promoting different genres. When they put out a call for submissions to the first BGS anthology, Vizions of the Future, the idea tweaked my interest. I wasn’t planning to try Kickstarter on my own, but working with a diverse group of authors and an experienced marketing team sounded much better than a solo effort.

Kickstarter also opens the way for a broader range of stories than most magazines who must keep within the expectations of their readers. With that in mind, I submitted a favorite, though odd, science fiction tale to the initial call. Lo and behold, BGS selected my story from the submission pile to launch this venture along with nine others.

What makes this announcement different from my usual release posts is the anthology is not yet available. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website where creators describe their projects and request startup funding from those interested in supporting the endeavor. This means you can be a part of the deciding factor in whether projects succeed or disappear.

BooksGoSocial is seeking funding to help cover editing, artwork, formatting, and printing costs so they can bring this anthology of stories they love to readers. Your contribution comes with a reward (much like PBS) that includes either an eBook, or both an eBook and print version of the anthology. Beyond the rewards, though, you get a hand in making this project happen.

My story is colony-based science fiction (like the Seeds Among the Stars series) with a group of intrepid colonists attempting to tame the wilds of a previously untouched planet. What makes it odd is the narrative style I adopted, a more folktale voice in homage to the ghost story that inspired the tale.

Fear not. For those science fiction purists out there, my story does not slip off into fantasy despite the source of the creative spark. Recall, however, how Arthur C. Clarke once said sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, or in my case, the inexplicable.

I hope you enjoy imagining what my colonists face from now until the anthology is released, something that can only happen with your support.

If I’ve sparked your curiosity about my story, and the anthology as a whole, click the below link to make your pledge. Supporting this Kickstarter means gaining the chance to explore nine other stories as well as mine in a variety of science fiction styles.

Come meet new authors, discover new worlds, and be a part of creating something wonderful.
Vizions of the Future: A Kickstarter Anthology from BooksGoSocial
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/booksgosocial/a-visionary-science-fiction-anthology/

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5 Interesting Links for 04-13-2018

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Preparation (Food)

Having a vegetable- and/or fruit-laden smoothie in the morning is good for you but time consuming. Advanced preparation, as described in this article, can make the process easier.
https://www.organizeyourselfskinny.com/2013/11/13/make-ahead-green-smoothie-kits/

Jellyfish (Paleontology)

A rare combination of glue-like sand and no shoreline predators offers insight into the structure of prehistoric jellyfish.
https://www.livescience.com/60048-oldest-stranded-jellyfish-graveyard.html

Cover Art (Publishing)

A look at what to consider when thinking about cover art whether you have the skill to tackle it yourself or are planning to hire a designer.
http://harryscottauthor.com/makes-good-self-published-cover/

Repair (Culture)

Shops and volunteer organizations are springing up that help people repair or recycle their items in an attempt to train people to be less of a burden on our environment.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/15/can-we-fix-it-the-repair-cafes-waging-war-on-throwaway-culture

Tourism (Space)

An economy (if you compare to private ISS trips) space hotel plans to accept its first guests in 2022.
https://www.space.com/40207-space-hotel-launch-2021-aurora-station.html

Box Set 1 The Steamship Chronicles

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The Namarielle (Chronicles of Lashai Book 1) by Julien Jamar

This is truly an epic fantasy tale with complex characters who don’t always make the right decisions, but they usually fail for reasons we can see and sympathize with. Each of the main cast has gone against tradition in some way, whether by choice or the result of actions by others. Only Cassai has elements of destiny assisting her unearned, but even so, she must choose how to react to what she learns, making them all active participants in their futures.

The writing is rich. It’s full of body language and descriptive details that bring the characters to life. This makes their motivations grounded in a way speech alone might not have been able to do. A simple comparison of the experiences visible in two people’s eyes reveals their character more than stating it outright. The culture, or I should say cultures, is well drawn, while there is a real difference between the members of the different cultures in their attitudes and approaches. For example, their differing lifespans have a direct impact on their perspectives.

There is only one point when my absorption faltered. The modern world intrudes on theirs for a few short paragraphs, but otherwise their actions and behaviors match the circumstances from which they came.

The beginning hints and teases, giving just enough to intrigue. Though it sets Cassai up as the story focus, by using Elian’s point of view as well, we learn what she doesn’t know. Even more, we discover there’s a conspiracy of silence created for her benefit, and it’s clear the decision will come back to haunt those involved, though I didn’t see exactly how until her whole world changes. As an example, Elian knows her emotions interact with the local weather, but he doesn’t give us any more to hint she’s not the simple peasant girl she appears. Her dream in the first chapter tells us she’s a princess in hiding, but still we know only a part of the picture, and we don’t know how true the dream is.

This is not a light-hearted book. It has many very dark moments where innocents fall, demonstrating the true nature of the Fontre. But even in the midst of those, there is hope, bravery, and striving to make a difference, sometimes coming from the oddest corners. Cassai has those who have protected her from childhood at the start, but collects a random scattering of others as she goes. Each comes with their own motivations and histories that complicate their part in her journey.

Cassai herself is innocent but not ignorant. It takes some pieces falling into place, along with both prophetic dreams and those from her hidden memories, for her to understand her role in the story. Even then, she struggles with her responsibilities versus her expectations. Of all of them, her growth is the most significant, though I’d say everyone who comes within her circle ends up changed, sometimes in a bad way, but always different than they were at first.

I was worried the book would end on a cliffhanger, and in some ways it does because we don’t know what will happen next. But, it feels more like the closing of one story and the passage to the next book, appropriate for such a far-reaching epic tale. We know who they are, how what happened changed them, and what they plan to do next. Whether they will succeed is another story all together.

I was swept up by this world and the struggles within it. I look forward to learning what happens next.

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