Author Archives: lydias

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My list will be a short one this week. I tend to be a mood reader, and 2020 only amplified that preference a hundred times over. Honestly, I don’t generally know what I want to read next with these few exceptions.

My hope is that I will be able to finish these books this year.

A Promised Land Barack Obama book cover. image on cover is of President Obama looking to the side and smiling.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

I’ve read a few of President Obama’s other books and enjoyed them.

 

The End of Everything by Katie Mack book cover. Image on cover is of a stylized set of curved lines against a night sky.

The End of Everything by Katie Mack

Ms. Mack gave a (virtual) talk at my local library this past autumn that was excellent. Between that and her entertaining Twitter account, I look forward to reading more of her thoughts on astrophysics soon.

Stargazing by Jen Wang book cover. image on cover is of two cartoon children looking up at the stars. One of them is holding an opened book.

Stargazing by Jen Wang

So many of you have talked about Stargazing that I simply have to check it out.

6 Weird Things About Writing

person wearing a white sheet over their body and sitting on a couch. they are also wearing sunglasses and a hat.Have you ever taken a moment to think about how weird the writing process can be?

When it’s done well, the end result can be characters and settings that were so well-developed it’s hard to remember they don’t actually exist in our world.

That in an of itself is just a little strange (in a delightful sort of way) if I spend too much time pondering it, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg once one digs their way into the process of writing itself.

I know some of my readers are fellow writers, so you’re probably going to be familiar with at least some of what I’m about to say.

 

Googling Bizarre Things

Person's hand holding a sketch of planet earth. Below this image is a search bar.

That is to say, topics that aren’t actually connected to my daily life whatsoever.

I’m not pregnant or planning to adopt, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time on baby naming websites.

I have no interest in being one of the first humans to live on Mars or any other non-Earth destination, but I read every scrap of information I can find about space travel and what humans can realistically expect to happen when humans start sending people to Mars or the Moon to establish permanent or temporary homes there. This includes everything from how they’ll dispose of human waste to possible burial practices when someone dies during one of these missions to what the dust on other planets might smell like.

These are two of the tamer things I’ve searched for online. Here’s hoping no one looks through my other searches and assumes that all or any of them are based on what my actual plans are for the near future.

Eavesdropping

A stone sculpture of someone eavesdropping Some people might eavesdrop for juicy gossip or to learn things that they know others wouldn’t want them to hear.

I’m not one of them.

When I overhear other people’s conversations, my brain immediately jumps into dialogue mode.

How are their sentences structured? Which dialect(s) are they using? How often do the speakers interrupt each other, if ever? Do they stick to one topic or jump around?

Only then do I think about what they’re actually saying. Some people reveal a great deal about their lives from the conversations they have in public, while others remain closed books at least in the short amount of time I spend listening to their portions of the conversation.

Gaining Unusual Knowledge

man holding book that has sparks of light coming out from it.The upside of all of this research is that I’ve studied all sorts of topics that most people with similar backgrounds probably wouldn’t know.

For example, I can tell you what the odds are of surviving the various types of smallpox even though that disease was eradicated years before I was born.

I also know what cyanide tastes like, how to cauterize a wound, and a few different methods to cure the hides of large animals after a big hunt.

(Here’s hoping this blog post won’t get me put on any watchlists. Ha!)

Talking to Characters

nails and other small pieces of metal arranged to look like a human face and shoulders. The metal figure is staring straight ahead with a serious expression on their face. There’s something about talking to your characters that makes it easier to iron out plans for plot twists or future character development in my experience.

Yes, sometimes I even talk to my characters out loud and wait for a response. No, I don’t expect them to literally respond.

It’s simply a way to sort out my thoughts and figure out which ideas, if any, actually fit that particular character at that particular moment in their life.

A moment of silence helps me figure out where to go next. Does idea X or Y makes more sense? Or maybe I should try idea Z first even though it’s newer and needs more development?

Forgetting to Eat

An empty white plate on a blue background Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I’m writing that I forget what time it is.

This includes the typical times of day when I have my next meal.

There’s something about getting that next scene sketched out or blog post written that makes it easy to lose track of time like that.

Who wants to stop writing in that moment? Certainly not me!

Although my growling stomach eventually reminds me that writers aren’t machines and it’s time to stop and grab a plate of something.

Taking Breaks Feels Bizarre

A bulldog lying on the ground while looking up expectanctly at the viewerLast month I took a two week break from any sort of writing at all.

It was weird to spend those days doing things that were in no way to related to any step of the writing process, but ultimately I know how important it is to step away from a project and let one’s mind rest for a while.

This technique also works for much shorter breaks. Sometimes I’ll go take a walk when I’m struggling with how to phrase a particular blog post or passage in one of my stories. There’s something about stepping away from the issue that makes it much easier to resolve when walk or vacation time ends.

Don’t let this section make you assume that I write thousands of words every single day. My output does vary from one day to the next, but not having any of it at all is something I need to adjust to every time another break come up again.

Fellow writers, what would you add to this list?

Vintage Science Fiction Month: Vintage Images

Vintage SciFi Month was created by Little Red Reviewer and is moderated by Red Star Reviews. Any science fiction film, short story, play, or book released before 1979 is eligible for this celebration of classic science fiction. Click on the links above to participate, read other entries, or for more information in general. 

Most of my entries for Vintage Science Fiction month tend to be reviews of films, books, or TV shows. Today I thought I’d mix things up a little by sharing some interesting vintage science fiction artwork, covers, and logos I found on various parts of Wikimedia.

" Festus, a poem" artwork by Philip James Bailey. Image is of an angelic creature flying up towards a triangle that is emitting many rays of light.

The book cover for “Festus, A Poem” by Philip James Bailey. This book had about 22,000 lines of blank verse poetry written across 50 scenes about the legend of Faust. It is quite hard to find these days.

 

Science Fiction Quarterly cover. Shows man turning into a tree and a woman who appears to be causing it.

A cover of Science Fiction Quarterly from the summer 1942 issue.

 

Universe Science Fiction cover from 1953. Image on cover shows small group of people watching a rocket ship take off.

A cover of Universe Science Fiction from May 1953.

 

Cover of Super-Science Fiction, June 1959. Image on cover shows two astronauts fighting a house-sized monster that has many tentacles.

A cover of Super Science Fiction from June 1959.

 

1911 sketch of A man seeing live television in his bed.

This is an illustration from Camille Flammarion’s 1894 science fiction novel La Fin du Monde. It predicted that a man could lie in bed and watch (what we would now call) television in bed in 1911.

Science Fiction League logo. Image on logo shows rocket ship flying past earth from the perspective of someone who is in outer space looking below at both of these things.

The logo of the Science Fiction League from 1934.

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: 5 Best Places I’ve Visited

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A herd of bison walking on a plain

Place: Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Why I Loved It: This isn’t my photo, but I remember being mesmerized by the herds of elk, buffalo, and other large animals when my family visited Yellowstone when I was a kid. It’s awe-inspiring to be that close to creatures you’d normally only see in photos or videos. This is a fantastic place to visit for people of all ages and ability levels. Two parents and three young children sitting on a large boulder at Vedauwoo National Park.

 

Place: Vedawoo National Park in Wyoming

Why I Loved It: Here’s an old photo of my parents, siblings, and me in Vedawoo when I was a child. It’s such a wonderful place to enjoy nature and spend time with people you care about. Someday I hope I’ll get to go back there and have another picnic and hike like we did so many times when I was little. Maybe it could even be a big extended family trip! My nephews would like running around in Vedawoo.

 

A small ship floating next to a gigantic wall of ice in Alaska
Photo credit: Jim Schoch

Place: Alaska

Why I Loved It: I’ve mentioned this Alaskan cruise my extended family took here before. The scenery in Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful both on water and on land. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and would love to explore the parts of it I didn’t have time for on my first trip there. There were more sights to see than there were hours in the day!

Lydia standing on Labadee Beach in Haiti

Place: Labadee Beach in Haiti

Why I Loved It: I love swimming and building sandcastles. Soaking up all of that warm sunshine feels great, too.  Labadee Beach was private beach in Haiti my spouse and I have visited on a few different winter cruises. It was warm, relaxing, and peaceful. As you can probably already guess, I’d love to go back here again someday as well. There’s something nice about returning to vacation spots you already know you’ll enjoy. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed that it might be okay to visit Toronto’s beaches this summer. We’ll have to see how this year goes.

I have no idea what to add for my fifth answer to this week’s prompt, so I’ll stop here. Prince Edward Island and Hawaii are still on my bucket list, so maybe I’ll be able to see them eventually!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: My Hopes for 2021

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

These are my hopes for 2021. Some are serious while others are purely frivolous.

a red lighted candle burning in an otherwise dark room

1. That all of us who can be vaccinated for Covid-19 will be able to receive that vaccine this year. Herd immunity saves so many lives.

2. That this pandemic ends quickly and the economy of every country stabilizes again.

3. That President Biden’s transition into the White House goes smoothly.

4. That Toronto gets at least one decent blizzard this year. I love how quiet our corner of the world becomes when there’s a thick layer of snow covering everything.

5. That Jana eventually chooses one of my submissions for a future Top Ten Tuesday theme. Haha!

6. That streaming services or TV channels make more science shows like Cosmos while we’re all waiting for museums to safely reopen. I love learning about how our world works.

7. That all of our favourite living authors release new books this year.

silhoutte of person sitting by a beach and raising their hands to the sky as the sun sets8. That everyone gets two weeks of paid vacation time to rest and relax after everything that happened in 2020.

I’d argue that frontline workers should get at least double that amount of time off in appreciation of everything they did in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. to keep the rest of us safe, healthy, fed, and educated.

9. That I find the perfect job for my strengths, skills, and interests (and you do, too, if you also need this!)

10. That all of us have a peaceful, happy, and wonderful 2021.

Mindfulness During a Snowstorm

January is the quietest time of year in Ontario. Life slows down here quickly once this month begins.Not only have the majority of the big winter holidays have passed by, the weather itself isn’t terribly conducive to driving anywhere even before this pandemic began. The overnight temperature can dip to -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) or… Read More

Vintage Science Fiction Month: A Trip to the Moon

Vintage SciFi Month was created by Little Red Reviewer and is moderated by Red Star Reviews. Any science fiction film, short story, play, or book released before 1979 is eligible for this celebration of classic science fiction.  A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage Dans la Lun) was a short silent film released in 1902 by French film… Read More

What I Read in 2020

In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime. I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track… Read More