Monthly Archives: October 2006

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2006

nullThe time has come again, and, this time, I’ve decided to join in. National Novel Writing Month has been in existence for eight years. It started with 21 participants in 1999 and grew to 59,000 in 2005.

What is NaNoWriMo? Between November 1st and November 30th, participants must write a 50,000 word novel. The challenge is there, but participants can also join forums, local groups (for instance, in Ottawa, there are over 200 participants), discussion groups. There are local write-ins, where a bunch of NaNoWriMo writers get together and write, play games, challenge each other. You can also have writing buddies who you can turn to for encouragement and challenges.

“Though the word “national” exists in the contest name, Baty estimates about half the contestants come from outside the US, the bulk of those hailing from Canada, Australia and the UK. As for how it went from a pocketful of friends to its current size, the growth can be blamed on livejournal, which Baty says has its own NaNoWriMo contingency, and also the power of bloggers. “It’s an annual challenge for people, like a marathon—people come back every year to do this. There is definitely a repeat community,” he chuckles and adds, “Publicity is one thing we forget to do every year.” There are also volunteer municipal liaisons in over 200 cities—they hold events and write-ins at coffee shops and the ever-important thank-god-it’s-over-party. In other words, you don’t have to go your first draft alone and that is a highly appealing thing.” (Read the entire article)

The website has an official word counter and “winners” receive a dandy certificate. Last year, out of the 59,000 participants, 9,769 reached the 50,000 word goal.

There is no shame attached to not finishing, only encouragement to try it again next year. Many have been returning since the beginning. Several of those writers have had a novel published out of the exercise.

So, here I am, at the cusp, with an idea (another Jack Meter book) but no plot. If you’re interested in my writing progress, I’ve placed a word counter on the home page of my website. Simply scroll down to the blue logo. The count starts tonight, midnight.

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Canada vs. the US

Culture can be obvious or subtle, but it’s often difficult to pinpoint it. In the case of the differences between two countries who share one of the longest borders in the world, it can be tricky. In his page Canadianisms, Greg Steffan, Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at University of Toronto, uses expressions and words (you say tomahto, I say tomayto) to highlight the differences.

Here are some interesting ones:

Canada United States
“Eh?” “Don’t you think?”
clicks slang for kilometers
keener boot-licker, brown-noser, suck-up
kerfuffle commotion; flurry of agitation
Molson muscle potbelly (Molson is a Canadian brand of beer)
“for sure” definitely
to be on pogey to be on welfare
two-four case of beer containing 24 bottles
homo milk whole milk
elastic rubber band

Steffan’s list is far from exhaustive, but it shows how language can highligth differences –and maybe create misunderstandings.

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Very Short Stories

nullWired magazine asked 33 well-known writers to write a six word story:

“We’ll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves.”

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time – Alan Moore
  • Longed for him. Got him. Shit. – Margaret Atwood
  • It cost too much, staying human. – Bruce Sterling
  • The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly. – Orson Scott Card
  • Tick tock tick tock tick tick. – Neal Stephenson
  • New genes demand expression — third eye. – Greg Bear
  • Bush told the truth. Hell froze. – William Gibson
  • Sum of all fears: AND patented. – Charles Stross
  • Time traveler’s thought: “What’s the password?” – Steven Meretzky
  • Dorothy: “Fuck it, I’ll stay here.” – Steven Meretzky

Five artists used these six-word stories and turned them into art.

The six-word story is not a new concept, but it’s been a long time since it was done. They’re almost a shortened form of haiku. Here are some of my own:

  • Black cat, evil eyes, sweet talk.
  • Dappled sunlight, field flowers — red puddle
  • Knight, Dragon, a kill. No Damsel.
  • My favorite jam; my body, dead.

Can you generate your own? If you do, send them to me at telecarb(at)hotmail(dot)com (add the @ and . in the email address), and I’ll post them on my blog.

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Zumayans’ Workspaces No. 7

Zumaya Publications has as many different authors as it has genres. Here’s another of Zumaya’s authors, Jackie Griffey.

JackieJackie’s small, old house sits on five acres where it’s just now getting built up around her –they’re in the middle of an exodus from Little Rock, Arkansas, she thinks– so that window she sits in front is very distracting. There are fall colors, squirrels, and other wildlife to watch. Gray and tan deer sail over the back fence like flying reindeer, especially before deer hunting season starts in the fall (which is distracting enough all by itself).

If her computer was at a window in the back of the house, it would be worse and she’d never get anything done (how does Cheryl Swanson concentrate when the surf’s up?).

Jackie has two novels with Zumaya: Memphis in Our Hearts, a historical romantic suspense, and Once Burned, a romantic suspense. She is working on several other novels at this time.

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A birdlike plane

James DeLaurier, a Canadian aeronautical engineer and professor at Toronto University, has fulfilled Leonardo DaVinci’s dream, three centuries later. DeLaurier built a plane that flaps like a bird or, in more technical terms, and ornithopter.

“DeLaurier’s eventual success certainly had much to do with his determination, but it’s also a result of the technology now available to aircraft builders. He was able to use this era’s electronics, lightweight but strong composite construction materials, and the vast storehouse of aeronautic knowledge developed by the fixed-wing aircraft industry.”

In order to achieve liftoff, the Flapper had to reach a speed of 82km/hour by flapping its wings, which added much more stress to them than for an ultralight, for instance. Still, it wasn’t off the ground at that time. Another problem was most runways were too short for the Flapper. In addition, the Flapper tended to bounce up and down with the wings flapping, which cut down on the acceleration. Those problems were solved by adding a miniature jet engine.

“After several trial runs along the airstrip, the pilot went full throttle at 10:20 a.m. on July 8, 2006, flapping faster and faster down the runway. The ornithopter took off, flying about one metre above the ground for 14 seconds for a distance of about 300 metres — beating by two seconds the first flight of the Wright brothers’ powered plane in 1903.”

You can watch a video of the Flapper’s flight on the ornithopter’s site.

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