Things That Make Me Smile No.149: A Bird Symphony

A new twist on classical music my mother pointed me to…ShakeUp Music & Sound Design has constructed an opera enhanced by bird song. Enjoy.

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5 Interesting Links for 09-21-2018

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

Steampunk (Costuming)

Step-by-step instructions for making cool steampunk goggles on the cheap.
http://susandennard.com/2011/02/how-to-make-steampunk-goggles/

Techniques (Editing)

9 steps to revising your novel, many of which I do and some that would not work for me, but might be useful to someone else.
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/10/05/9-steps-revising-your-novel/

Myths (Food)

Since this is something I grew up believing, I thought I’d pass this along. Milk is safe in cold season!
https://www.livescience.com/63517-milk-does-not-create-mucus.html

Boredom (Psychology)

A study of boredom using modern brain mapping techniques had some intriguing results.
http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/what-boredom-does-to-you

Etiquette (Social Media)

A companion to a business social media etiquette guide I shared earlier, this looks at your personal presence on the Web.
https://ask.aliannedonnelly.com/2017/09/14/social-media-etiquette-102-the-personal-side/

Box Set 1 The Steamship Chronicles

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Blind Author’s Writing Method: Guest Post by Adam Boustead

Vizions of the Future: An Anthology from BooksGoSocialOne of my favorites in Vizions of the Future was the first story: Sylvan Chains. Adam’s tale takes some interesting turns as it gives the characters independence and choice despite being part of a very structured society. Then, when I read his bio at the end of the story, I learned the author is blind. I know how John Milton (17th-Century poet who wrote Paradise Lost) wrote his works, but the modern world offers different challenges and new tools.

I thought you might be curious as well, so I asked Adam if he would talk about it on my blog. His process is both similar and different from how Milton managed the same so long ago. With no further ado, here’s Adam Boustead to talk about his creative process.


Blind Author’s Writing Method

Hopefully, there is somebody reading this. If there is, their first question would probably be where do I get my ideas?

From the telly. Yes, blind people do this although we listen rather than watch. Sometimes books: brail, audio, or talking Kindle.

But where I get most of my ideas is from the warm, helpful people in my local writing groups.

I got the idea for Sylvan Chains, my short story in Books Go Social’s amazing anthology from two sources. Spec Fic television shows and a group of fantasy books inspired by Lord of the Rings involving elf stones [The Sword of Shannara Series]. Please no one say anything. I am not done reading it.

As for my writing method?

Once I have an idea, I sit down at my brail note taker and start writing. What is a brail note taker I hear you ask?

It’s like a laptop but without a screen, and with a brail keyboard and display.

I often start with a beginning, but I rarely know how I am going to reach the end. I let the story lead me to the end of the story then I go to editing.

I used to use a talking computer, but it’s broken. I have to pay people to properly edit.

Then I email it to my publishers.


There’s a collaborative process between most writers and their editors. With Adam, that collaboration is a little more extensive, but his ideas and stories shine through.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into an author’s process as much as I did. Should I see if any of the other Vizions authors are willing to visit? You can read Adam’s story and more in Vizions of the Future

Note: I did a bit of interpretation in editing this article. Though I checked the contents with Adam, any errors or misinterpretations fall on my head.

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Troll Tunnels by Erin M. Hartshorn

Troll Tunnels by Erin M HartshornThis is the third Boston Technowitch novel, and with the series shaping up to be long, it falls approximately in the middle. For me, that’s where a series succeeds or fails. The first two established a distinct pattern of narrative with the unique elements being in the specifics (the way a murder mystery series is always about a different murder), but Troll Tunnels doesn’t let that pattern settle in and become stagnant at all. Sure, my favorite character to hate, Dorothy, shows up with her usual brand of mischief, but she’s not the central issue in this book, nor is her thread without new aspects.

For the first time, no one beyond Dorothy is blaming Pepper for murders she hasn’t committed or for causing the end of the world as we know it. Instead, Troll Tunnels focuses on Pepper’s life, and her own growth magically and as a person. It should not come as a surprise to learn her involvement with the trolls deepens, given the title, but there are some interesting revelations there, and a complete, satisfying main plot for the book as well.

The trolls are not the only people Pepper connects with, some a long time coming while others are a surprise. She expands her worry circle to include everyone she’s touched so far, good or bad, and actively chooses to make ties rather than pushing people away.

I enjoyed Pepper moving out of her self-hatred into creating a new vision for herself and her magic. I loved the interactions with Haris and Hsien as well as with various members of Matt’s family. But it’s the complexity of everything, the way Pepper’s life is reaching out to join with so many others like her magic does when she asks for help in solving problems, that has me hooked. It makes for a well-rounded character with a strong support system even when she feels alone. Even better, she’s fighting for those connections now, accepting she both deserves and needs them.

As usual, her relationships with her kids formed one of my favorite parts. In this book, they’re more essential to the overall plot than usual because of their father, Matt. His hatred of all things magic has gotten out of control, and the kids are suffering for it. Pepper, too. I can state without spoilers that the end brought tears to my eyes. You’ll have to read the book to learn what kind of tears.

As a middle book, we have character growth, the situation with the kids coming to a head, and feelers creeping forward into future books to come. Then we also have a magical situation for Pepper to solve with the trolls even if the witches aren’t blaming her for it. This is a solid novel with a lot going on, and a lot of reasons to expect more to come.

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Things That Make Me Smile No.148: An Artist at Work

An artist at work is an amazing thing to watch. I’m familiar with many of the techniques used through watching FaceOff, but this is a sped-up presentation of almost all the steps in creating a realistic-looking baby orangutan in silicon. Enjoy.

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