5 Interesting Links for 08-18-2017

Tips (Parenting)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers seven tips for raising daughters that apply to sons as well to foster thinking and encourage the success of a life well lived.

Creativity (Exercise)

A study by Stanford University found that the physical act of walking seems to encourage creative brainstorming, though not deep thoughts. Continue reading

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Skielach by Z. A. Waterstone

Skielach by Z. A. WaterstoneIt’s a sign of the strength of the story that I recognized all of the main players of the first book when they resurfaced in this one (those that did) without ever looking at the first book again. As with the first, there is a large cast and multiple things happening in different places all at the same time, but each is a layer on the main story. Even when I didn’t recognize the connection at first, I could tell they were going to cross paths at some point just based on where and what they were doing. This created a good tension, and sometimes a terrifying one when the actions of one group would directly affect the other.

It’s also worth noting the cast was full of distinct people who I enjoyed spending time with (sometimes as the enemy), both from before and newly introduced. Everyone has a goal they’re working toward, sometimes complementary, but often in a conflict they’re unaware of. While the series tackles some big questions in exploring what counts as personhood, the questions alone would not be enough to engage me. It’s the strength of the characters that manages to keep me involved. For example, one of the characters embodies everything I dislike about people in power, but at the same time, he has a deeper, more complicated story we learn as the tale unfolds. The realism is such, though, that his deeper story does nothing to inform his actions and the reasons I dislike him. Continue reading

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Looking in: An Exploration of Descriptive Choices

When I’ve taught classes on description, there’s often a moment when an exercise goes awry. Sometimes it’s a matter of reader 50% where the focus comes from the experiences of the reader, but often it can occur when the writer puts something into the scene whether by accident or out of desperation.

I can remember one example offhand where the writer, at a loss for how to describe blood spatter in a crime scene, used flower metaphors. This transformed her scene from a police procedural to a thriller in which the murderer had a point of view (POV)…and was viewing the scene in that moment.

What the character/POV sees is a visual medium for all that it’s written down. The author attempts to paint a picture in the reader’s mind, and how the reader reacts to the image is as much governed by what the author emphasizes as what the reader’s connections to the scene might be.

I recently created, by accident of course, a visual representation of this effect thanks to Daz3D. I created a Victorian scene outside a bakery (possibly Cooper’s Bakery, which featured in Safe Haven) and called it “Looking in” with a clear expectation of the scene. Then, on a whim, I chose two different camera angles from which to capture the scene. The effects were dramatic (at least to my mind). The two resulting images show how eye witnesses can see two very different things while looking at the same one. Continue reading

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5 Interesting Links for 08-11-2017

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

Clothing (Society)

A long, but relevant article about men’s plus-size clothing that points to yet another way the focus on a limited “norm” creates problems and hurts people when the financial benefits would be noticeable. On the other hand, it also points to folks stepping up and making a difference.

Bazaar (Culture)

This article chronicles a modern visit to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and brought back memories from my childhood, especially the sellers who are perfectly happy to educate and the ability to watch things being made right there. It’s where my fascination with glassblowing began. Continue reading

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Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne

Barrel Proof by Layla ReyneBarrel Proof brings this gay romance/spy thriller series to a solid ending. While the previous two books had enough to stand alone, this jumps right in where the previous one left off, though it offers reminders pretty quickly to ground the reader. It does feel like this is a better binge read than stretched out too long. Because of where the last book left Jaime and Aiden, even though I remembered the events, the emotional connection to the characters had dimmed. However, even there, it took very little to restart that connection.

The book uses a large time-jump/summary to make Aiden’s attempts to deal with Jaime’s betrayal reasonable, but the story is in a bit of a holding pattern during this section. Jaime, who has the narration, wasn’t doing much that’s critical, or so it seemed. I’ll say only his concerns and ruminations become very relevant by the end, and things smoothed out on all sides once Aidan comes back into the picture. He doesn’t stay long for work reasons, but the mood changes from depression to anticipation. Continue reading

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