publication, science, Writing

Story Sale = A Great Monday!

I found a fantastic email awaiting me this morning: I’ve already signed and returned the contract, so now I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that I’ve sold a story to Nature’s Futures

“Wait, to whom?” I hear you asking. Let’s look at this. From their website, “Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.”

So yes, this is primarily a non-fiction publication catering to those in the scientific fields. But here’s where my sale comes in: Nature has a special section, called Futures, that publishes flash fiction of a scientific nature–Science Fiction, simply put. Stuff to make you think, ponder the future, and maybe let us consider the route we chose to get to that future.

Now back to the squee: a sale to this market has been a dream of mine for some time. I really love the stories they publish, and being read by scientists, I mean…what’s not to love about that? It’s pretty awesome, and I’m still floating on cloud 9.

I don’t have a publication date yet, but I’ll be sure to update this blog once I have it. Until then, wheeeeeeee! Happy Monday!

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, science, the dog, Travel, Writing

Mid-June Update

Things have been busy here, and I’m still in a bit of a whirl. Dasher is fully recovered, according to Monday’s liver enzyme test, which is the biggest news for me. And the best. He’s been acting fine, so it’s good to see it’s more than just a temporary reprieve.

He also got his shots yesterday, including a new one for the canine influenza that’s hit Florida. With his frequency of appearance at the UF Vet Med Hospital, which is a hotbed of diagnosis for this outbreak, I think it’s wise that he get all the protection a dog can get; after all, he’s had enough issues without adding one more. (Trupanion will probably thank me for this, too!)

Last week, spousal unit and I took a short trip north. Our first night we spent at a friend’s home in New Jersey, near where we used to live. The weather was cool and fine, and we got to harvest some of the last asparagus out of the garden! Oh, so delicious. I miss garden-fresh asparagus so much after tasting that lovely treat! The gardens were also a delight, with columbine, roses, iris, foxglove, and clematis. The long, cool spring held the blooms perfectly for our visit.

Afterwards, we traveled into New York City and absorbed city atmosphere and energy. We walked neighborhoods and parks, ate a a few favorite restaurants and tried a few new ones, took in some new sights as well as revisiting some old favorites. Can I admit that it was relaxing? Yes, NYC and relaxing don’t normally work together, but it was. Both of us just slowed down and enjoyed being on vacation. It was great.

Back home again, I’ve started to dive heavily into the research end of the literal “world building:” How long would the planet’s rotational period be? How about moons–could I have two, and what would their cycles in the night sky be? Could/should the planet have a great rift, like the one on Mars? How would that affect the story, or would it be located elsewhere? What are the different languages spoken by the various peoples, and how are they visually/aurally different? Etc…

Yes, it’s work, but it’s fun work. And it’s calling me, calling…

Bye for now. Time to research biology and form for a cool critter I’m making.

research, science, Travel

Vintage-Style Travel Posters…from NASA!

NASA has some absolutely gorgeous space travel posters that you can print (they really have printable file sizes!) to liven up your room with intriguing images. Dream about the glories of Titan’s methane seas, or the eternal night skies of PSO J318.5-22, a rogue planet not tied to any sun. These posters are real beauties, and I’m going to be printing up a couple for my writing space, and dreaming of those who may, one day, actually travel to these wondrous places.


research, science

All Excited About Worldbuilding Research

Yep, it’s true. Like so many other writers, I love me some good research. I did some yesterday on technology and such, and came away with some amazing bits of knowledge that I just have to share:

The word “Scientist” wasn’t coined until the 1840s.


  • 1801: first entire building is lit with gas
  • 1802: gas lighting is installed in a factory, letting it operate longer
  • 1807: first successful demo of street lighting, in Pall Mall in London, using coal gas
  • 1885: the incandescent gas mantle is invented. It becomes very popular and gives gas lighting an edge over the feeble illuminations of the electric light systems being introduced


  • 1826: First modern railway system (operated entirely by steam engine) in England
  • 1832: First modern streetcar is pulled by horses
  • 1852: “safety” elevator (with brakes in case of cable breakage) is introduced
  • 1895: First practical subway, in Boston, MA, is 1.5 miles long and uses trolley streetcars

In 1900:

  • Human speech was transmitted on radio waves for the first time
  • The Wright brothers are experimenting with unpiloted glider kites, as they’ve been doing since 1896
  • There are 470,000 miles of railway in the world
  • The first electric arc steelmaking furnace was used
  • Storage batteries were developed
  • An early version of a zeppelin airship is scrapped due to poor in-air controls
  • The first flashlights are created
  • Paper clips were invented

In 1901:

  • A multi-story car park eases parking problems in London.
  • The first ever trans-Atlantic wireless communication takes place–the letter “S” in Morse code! 6 years later, commercial radio telegraph service is established across the Atlantic.

Every time I look back at historic developments, I’m amazed by both how quickly some things developed, and how other things plodded along despite an “early” start. Also, how advanced our forebears really were–I mean, could you conceive of elevators before the US Civil War?

So, all this good stuff is going into the basic world building for my novel. Now that I’ve got an idea of tech development, I get to go destroy it all. More fun! 🙂 Wish me luck! And if you have any great technology dates from the mid-1800’s through 1900, feel free to share them.

Magic of the Everyday, science

Geeky Cool Stuff!

Yesterday my hubby took me to his place of work to show me the ‘toys’ he works on/with. Let me share!

First was the MRI machine. Have you really gotten to examine one of these? With your clothes on (not a paper gown), and standing outside the hole (or bore), these things are pretty amazing. Also amazing is what they do to aluminum.

You probably know that MRI machines work with magnets, so magnetic metals are strictly forbidden around these machines. We left things–my purse, his ID badge and wallet–in the outer room, then walked in to the MRI room. The machine hummed, and the room was cool (deep-freezing keeps the magnet functioning; a power-outtage means there’ll be a ridiculous expense to re-start). Still, nothing weird. This was a machine just like those you’d see in a hospital, with a table/bed/shelf-y slider going into a doughnut-shaped body-length space.

After a moment’s observation, he pulled out a wire attached to an aluminum box. Aluminum isn’t magnetic, so it can be in the room without fear of damaging the MRI. The wire, however, is magnetic under that layer of insulation. The wire, once he stepped close enough, pulled to the side of the machine and snuggled against the outside. But if he waggled the wire near the hole, or bore, it went wild, pulling and snaking, trying to leap into the bore. The magnetic field sucked at it, and flinging the end of the box about made the wire leap and jump like a fish in a current, or like your hand outside a car’s window while you drive on the highway. It’s amazing to watch magnetic currents suddenly become visible.

Next came the aluminum box without a wire. It was hollow, like a gutter’s downspout, and about five inches long. Not heavy, not amazing in any way. He had me wave the box in my hand over by the door to the room. Duh, nothing happened except that I waved a box. Then we walked over to the opening of the bore. Next to the whole, he had me wave the box again. It slowed, as if I was trying to move it under water and the water was pressing back. In front of the bore, moving the aluminum box became even harder, as if something opposed my motions. I saw hubby try it, and it looked so fake. Without trying it myself, I’d only believe what it looked like: a badly-done acting job of a special effect.

He explained this repulsive force is caused by eddy currents generated by the magnetic fields. It was simple to see how the force grew and flowed by how hard the aluminum box fought pushing, how it slide along the field’s ‘line of flow.’

Then he took me to the research machine. This machine is over 2 times stronger than the ones found in hospitals now. The back of this machine, where the magnet is, was huge. It was wrapped in layers of shielding. Still, a door blocked this area, so people didn’t walk behind the machine and  into the magnetic field there willy-nilly. The magnet, hubby told me, was so strong that if you walked too fast behind the bore, your eyes would see stars. I was not even tempted to try.

What I did discover, though, was that there was some metal in my shoes, probably nails joining my sole to the body of the shoe. I had to shuffle my feet slowly and low to the ground so that the magnetic forces didn’t pull my feet up from under me. It felt very odd, that sensation of something trying to lift your feet from below. It’s not the way gravity works, after all. Also, whenever I’d shift my body, the magnetic forces worked on the tiny bits of metal in my, um, well–in the straps of my undergarment. The straps leapt and flopped, feeling very much like flopping fish, or like grasshoppers taking flight from my skin and landing again–all under my sweater. That was very unnerving! (I’m glad it wasn’t an underwire. *shudders*)

The Eddy currents here were awesome. I could barely move a half-pound of aluminum. When the box was set on edge, so that it stood like a diamond instead of square, it stayed there, perfectly balanced against the force of gravity that wanted it to fall flat. And feeling the strength of the fields and direction of their currents was simplicity itself. It was as if there was a track that the box moved along when it went parallel to a field, and like pushing sideways against that track if I tried to shove completely against the current.

As we were leaving, we stopped in the lab for a moment while hubby dropped off the aluminum boxes. A co-worker was welding something, and we chatted for a moment. then hubby pointed some things out along the wall. And then came the whammy. “Oh,” he said. “There’s the 3-D printer.”

“You have a 3-D printer?” I managed to squeak. “That is awesome!”

He and his co-worker looked at one another, then at me. I could see what they were thinking: show her cutting edge magnetics research, and it’s cool, but a 3-D printer makes her sparkle.

It wasn’t working at the moment, but I got to see some things it’d made. It apparently is a smaller machine, since the one assembly I saw had been created in pieces and then put together manually afterwards. And it had taken some five weeks to create this thing, which was about 2.5 feet long by a foot or so wide. Still, I was amazed, and, absorbed by all the things this printer could do, I bubbled all the way home. And it wasn’t just the woozy-headedness left over from exposure to high magnetics, either.

Isn’t science amazing?