How traveling improves your writing

With the invention of the internet and the ease of access to an endless supply of research materials, practically every aspect of the writing process can occur on a home computer. We all know the cliché of the writer who holes themselves up in their house and spends days upon days in a disheveled state writing their book. While I always encourage writers to get out of their house and write somewhere else once in a while (especially when they have writer’s block), many successful writers have found what works for them, and it often involves a routine centered on making themselves the most productive they can be. Depending on their home situation, they could very well spend most of their time writing from the comfort of their favorite desk or table. Unfortunately, a limitation of spending so much of the writing process indoors is that some of the best research needs to happen in the field. One of the best...
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Why exoplanets aren’t as reachable as you think

One of the tenets of science fiction is that of inter-planetary travel. The dream of boarding a spacecraft and launching out to the far reaches of the universe is an exciting idea, but the reality of this happening anytime soon is slim to none. Despite NASA’s Kepler mission identifying almost 3,000 exoplanets in its mere three years of research, there are limitations to reaching any of these newly-discovered planets. Through some research I’ve done for my science fiction novel, Frozen Planet, four boundaries are keeping us from traveling to the thousands of planets in the known universe: Habitable Zone Distance Gravity Slings Escape Velocity The first problem with many of these planets is that they aren’t the right distance from their respective star for us. Too close and we’d burn up, too far and we’d freeze to death. The zone right in the middle is known as the “Goldilocks Zone” for being just right to sustain life. Fortunately, because the research that discovered these planets...
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10 years of journaling (and what it has taught me)

Earlier this year, I started polishing up the first draft of Fourteener Father, which I wrote last November. Because the time span this memoir covers was so vast (20+ years), one of the details I needed to flesh out had escaped my memory. It did not, however, escape my journal. Knowing the date I climbed the mountain in question; I used my journal entries of the nearby dates to nail down the detail I had forgotten. However, I was surprised to learn an interesting fact when flipping through my old journals. I have been journaling for over ten years now. That's a decade of my life written down and kept for posterity. Now, there's been plenty of changes in my life since I began writing to myself on January 1, 2007. I've graduated college with a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Engineering, moved to Alabama, written numerous novels, moved back to Colorado, dated and eventually married my wife. These simple, daily...
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When a short story is no longer a short story

Over the years, I've usually planned out my writing pretty well. I always felt that each element of the plot had a purpose and a place that added to the cohesive whole of the story. Consequently, I've really struggled with the concept of "killing your darlings." For those of you who haven't heard about this writing tactic, it essentially boils down to being able to let go of certain aspects of your story, especially when they don't add anything to the plot. Part of the reason I've been unable to remove some of these sections from my writing is because I find they're usually quite intertwined with the rest of the story and to remove them would require massive restructuring of the whole plot. To kill your darlings, you must be able to recognize them for what they are. In writing my short story for the next Midnight Writers' Anthology, I suddenly found the story I wanted to tell was much longer...
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What you need to know about your fandom

I don’t have a fandom like J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien (maybe I don’t have enough initials in my pen name). In fact, I don’t really have a fandom at all. However, I am certainly a fan of certain franchises. Sometimes I find myself cringing when these franchises are either rebooted or remade. Sure, there is always some hope that the new material can successfully capture the elements that made the original the hit that it was. However, this is rarely the case. Before we give our fans what they want, we need to understand what it is. For example’s sake, let’s look at two famous sci-fi franchises that have some very die-hard followers: Star Wars and Star Trek. Everyone agrees that these two franchises are similar in that they are both in the science fiction genre, but that’s essentially where the similarities end. In fact, these fandoms are almost so vehemently adamant on the superiority of their source material that you...
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3 Simple Tips when submitting to an Anthology

3 Simple Tips when submitting to an Anthology

Despite the almost ubiquitous availability of affordable self-publishing these days, sometimes it can be difficult to make your mark as an author. In fact, I would almost argue that the proliferation of self-published works has made it much harder to reach an audience of readers, as they now have a multitude of options when it comes to reading material. With this challenge in mind, one of the ways you can boost your name recognition is through anthologies. While you won’t have as much control over your written work as you would if you self-published a series of your own short stories yourself, the benefit of an anthology is being included in a book with a number of other authors who have fanbases who might be similar to the people you are trying to reach. In fact, someone might buy an anthology because they know one of the authors, only to find that they really like your story as well, thus increasing...
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Case for the Gigasecond

Time is such an odd thing to measure. Depending on the circumstances, time can feel a lot longer or shorter than it actually is. What’s really strange about time is the fact that it can never be measured twice. Sure, you can measure the same amount of time again, but you will never be able to measure that exact same section of time again. It’s gone, relinquished to the past. Does this mean that scientific measurements involving time cannot be repeated? If we want to be bogged down in semantics, nothing is ever repeatable because the time will never be the same. In fact, the ever-changing nature of time could almost be considered the purest universal constant. Now you might be asking yourself why I’m currently so focused on time. Well, as a matter of fact, my birthday is at the end of September. Last year I turned 30 years old, and it struck me that I had actually reached “full...
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Why you should NEVER throw away a good idea

When I first heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I thought it sounded like quite the novel idea: commit a full month to putting words to paper and by the end of it you have a first draft of a book. While my first year was quite the challenge, once I had completed it, I knew it was in the realm of possibilities. Even though writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a challenge, I was already starting to think of ideas on how to break up this daunting task into smaller, more manageable chunks. One of my ideas was to write about my experiences on Colorado’s 14,000+ ft. peaks (known locally as “the Fourteeners”). Since there are 58 named peaks above 14,000 feet, I would have to only write 863 words about each mountain to accomplish the NaNoWriMo challenge. As a result, I will be writing the first draft of the aforementioned “Fourteener” book this November. Ideas are easy,...
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1890: A San Francisco Steampunk Treat

One of the genres I have not had a lot of experience writing is that of steampunk. However, when I was given a lead to a short story anthology with the theme of “steampunk heroes”, an idea immediately came to mind. Of course, with this genre being new to my repertoire, I had quite a bit of research to do in order to meet the theme and genre requirements. For those who are unaware, the steampunk genre has many interpretations, but in general it focuses on advanced technologies brought about by the industrial revolution in the Victorian era. What this boils down to is a lot of gears, brass, corsets, top hats, steam, and the color brown infused into the story’s setting and accouterments. Many consider steampunk to be a sub-set of historical fiction because of its known timeframe (the aforementioned Victorian era). Consequently, historical accuracy can help to make the story believable, even if it has certain technological advances well...
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Nuclear Pasta

As a writer who tries to be "surreptitiously educational", one of the tenets of my fictional works is that the science in them is at least somewhat realistic to how things work in the real world. Granted, they are still works of fiction, but I want there to be just enough of a scientific reality to them that my readers' interest would be piqued enough that they might learn these scientific concepts are at play in our universe. Consequently, I don't mind using Wikipedia as one of my sole sources for research. One of the problems with using Wikipedia for my writing research is the tangential research that ends up being added to the singular topic I wanted to learn about. This, in turn, leads to me wanting to include more and more interesting scientific concepts in my writing. In my first set of books, The Fluxion Trilogy, I tried to cram too many references into each one of them, a...
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