Supplemental Reading: Biomimicry

One thing I love about being an author is that the work encourages you to seek out interesting things, broaden your world, follow questions down the rabbit hole and BE FASCINATED. It’s kind of a free pass to go where the energy takes you because passion feeds passion, and if something you’re experiencing or learning about can funnel into your writing in any way, it is valuable as well as fascinating.

So, when a book outside my regular fiction addiction captures my interest, I give it a look-see. Recently my attention was won by a book on biomimicry, which I was not formerly acquainted with, and seeing the word and wondering what it meant I picked the book up and started reading.

HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS.

Because much of what I learned elicited physical responses from me (see: “WHAT?” “Whooooa…” “Ugh!” etc.), I decided that some of this just had to be shared, even if you, my dear reader, conclude I am an easily-excited nerd. Which I would not deny.

First: Biomimicry is just what it sounds like: design that mimics biological entities and processes.

Now try some of these examples on for size.

1. Past Olympic swimsuits have been modeled after sharkskin, whose grooved overlapping scales (dermal denticles: “little skin teeth”) make water pass more quickly. Speedo says 28 of 33 gold medals won in the 2000 Sydney Olympics were won by swimmers wearing their sharkskin-inspired suits. According to this source, dermal denticle swimsuits are now banned in major competitions.

Other athletic fabric has been inspired by pine cones. Pine cones of all things! Pine cones respond to humidity, opening to release when there is moisture inside and closing when it is out. In fabric, this releases an athlete’s sweat while also keeping them dry from outer elements.

 

2. There’s a technology in the works for an airplane “skin” that repairs itself the way human skin does, similar to clotting blood and the formation of a scab/new skin underneath (the latter highlighting the damage for technicians to more fully address).

“If the technique pans out, then aircraft, wind turbines and perhaps even spaceships of the future may boast embedded circulatory systems with an epoxy resin that can bleed into holes or cracks and then fluoresce under ultraviolet light to mark the damage like a bruise during follow-up inspections.” —NBC

3. The book I read discussed the imitation of gecko spatulae for adhesive used to attach skin grafts, but more recent studies appear to be looking to flesh-grabbing worms and beetle feet for design.

Finally, these little factoids aren’t quite biomimicry, but I encountered them in the same book:

1. Nacre— the iridescent lining of an abalone shell– has a brick-and-mortar style structure that can withstand being run over by a truck. More here.

2. There exists a flower called the CORPSE LILY, named for its odor of rotting flesh. The smell attracts the insects that pollinate it. *Repulsed and grotesquely fascinated* Actually, there’s more than one flower like this:

  • There’s the stinking corpse lily, rafflesia arnoldii, which is also the largest single-bloom flower in the world:
  • And then there’s the corpse flower, amophophallus titanium, which looks more like a calla lily, but is also ungodly large and classified as a carrion flower for its stench of death:

Are you not in awe (if slightly grossed out)?

 

 

Revising Your Manuscript: A Flowchart Guide

Here it is, guys– the illustrated page I promised on revising your manuscript! I couldn’t decide what color I liked best, so I went for a Dr. Seussian/robin’s egg blue and am also posting the original black and white design for coloring purposes 🙂 Click the images to enlarge them.

Please feel free to print this page, color it, share it– and by all means, use it!

Revising Your MS Flowchart - blue 2

Revising Your MS Flowchart

 

Homemade Calendar – March

Last month I shared the first page of my homemade 2014 calendar. This week I bring you the completed March:

march 2014 calendar_0001

Materials this time included paint pens and permanent markers. I’m IN LOVE with Craftsmart’s gold foil!

Looking ahead to April, my month’s goals include but are not limited to:

  1. Completing Draft 3 of my WIP
  2. Query research
  3. Continued French review (units 3 and 4 in my textbook at a minimum)
  4. My extracurricular: reading up on how to read facial expressions, body language, and items within that vicinity (Liespotting, anyone?)

How about you?

Words of the Week 3/19/2014 — In which Julie discovers the dark side of an old nursery rhyme

This week’s words:

imputation n. an attribution, as of fault or crime; an accusation

perfunctory adj. performed out of routine; lacking enthusiasm; apathetic

litany n. a recital or repetitive series; a tedious, prolonged account

apéritif n. (French) a pre-dinner drink

placid n. tranquil; not easily upset or excited; peaceful

Now the composition. See if you can identify the well-known poem it alludes to:

For the old woman, a five o’clock apéritif was as perfunctory as the rhyming litany with which the neighbor kids teased her children. The gin and tonic made her placid, and at least numbed, if not impervious, to the chant’s subtle imputations about her chastity (or lack thereof) and rumors that her husband’s departure had made her an abusive matron.

Got it?

That’s right! I of course am referencing the old woman who lived in a shoe, a nursery rhyme of Mother Goose origins. Think I made it too dark? Well. It might interest you to know that at first I myself could only remember the initial two lines of this poem, “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe; / She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.” I wrote my vocab sentences with those in mind and then, out of curiosity, looked up the rest of the poem. As it turns out, it’s just two lines more:

She gave them some broth without any bread;

And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Uhhh…yeah. I’m pretty sure my copy of left those last ones out. The illustration in my childhood Mother Goose book was not unlike the one above: bright, colorful, featuring playing children, a gentle matron, and most importantly only the first two lines of the poem. But an illustration that portrays the complete nursery rhyme looks more like this:

I guess I see why the editor took a liberty or two (Can’t you just hear the lawsuits?).

On Buying Used Books…With Inscriptions

I love secondhand shops. Bookstores, boutiques, or Goodwill– doesn’t matter. A) I love a good bargain and B) You never know what you’ll find. Every visit is a treasure hunt. That’s half the fun!

Well, last weekend my exploits turned up this journal:

book of kells_0001

Um. GORGEOUS, no?

It’s a Paperblanks hardcover journal. If you’ve ever browsed among the blank leather and hardback volumes at your local bookstore, you know how ridiculously lavish these can be. This one is 128 lined pages, measures 9.1 x 6.6 inches, and weighs about a pound. The uh-MAZ-ing cover– what first caught my eye– is an illustration from the Book of Kells, a manuscript from the Middle Ages whose real and historical counterpart resides at Trinity College, Dublin.

The book was in excellent condition, and all of its pages were blank. Even if half the pages had been scribbled in, for the right price I still probably would have bought it. The illustrations enchanted me from the moment I laid eyes on them and when I read the description on the inner back cover I knew the book in my hands was high quality–probably worth at least $25-$35 new (Fact: It retails on Amazon from anywhere from $65 to $539.80.)

So why the devil was it only $1.99?

I opened the front cover.

book of kells_0002

Oh.

Well, obviously I bought the journal anyway. My thought process went something like this:

  1. Oh.
  2. Well, that could be papered over.
  3. Hang on– inscriptions are cool. I like inscriptions. They add a sort of richness, a historical presence; a story beyond the story. I mean, “wuv” is not the most decorated of all prose, but still. It’s the principal.
  4. Yeah, but what if somebody picked up the journal and read the inscription and was like, “Hey Julie, who’s this Mate (Maté?) person? You don’t know any Mate. What is this? You shrewd bargain-hunting, journal-snatching weirdo, you.”
  5. Psh. That’s not gonna happen.
  6. Probably.
  7. But what if the reason the previous owner never wrote in the journal is something bad? A death, a falling out with this Mate person? Tragedy?
  8. All the more poignant. Such is the human experience. Is that something to be papered over?
  9. They could have just been bad at keeping a journal.
  10. Whatever. $1.99.
  11. Iiiii’m going to blog about this.

So now I have, and I turn the question to you: What are your thoughts on buying used books with inscriptions in them? Does a personalized note with strangers’ names add value to the book for you, or detract from it?

“Save It”

“Save It” is Michael Jackson’s lesser known song about writers and the importance of backing up electronic manuscripts (to be sung to the tune of “Beat It“).

Save It

[1st Verse]
They told us listen up, you reckless writers look here
Don’t wanna see your typeface, word doc disappear
The muse’s in your eyes and your words are really clear
So Save It, Just Save It

[2nd Verse]
You better backup, you better do what you can
Don’t wanna see no blue screen, don’t leave it up to chance
You know your draft’s rough, better save while you can
So Save It, Or you’re gonna be mad!

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies

Just Save It, Save It
Just Save It, Save It
Just Save It, Save It
Just Save It, Save It

[3rd Verse]
They’re out to get you, all those storms and pop cans
They wanna fry your laptop, wanna drench your draft
You wanna manuscript, better save while you can
So Save It, Just Save It

[4th Verse]
You have to show them that you’re really prepared
You’re playin’ with your book, this ain’t no fanfic dare
They’ll soak you, then delete you,
Then your battery will wear
So Save It, Or you’re gonna be mad!

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies

[Chorus]
Just Save It, Save It, Save It, Save It
Ctrl + S isn’t overrated!
Showin’ how prudent and wise is your mind
It doesn’t matter if your laptop dies
Just Save It, Save It
Save It, Save It, Save It

Julie’s Guide to Writing a Novel (12 Stages)

Writing a Novel in 12 Stages

Let me just say, even though I’ve committed a certain formula to illustration here, the novel writing process is just that: a process. It is full of trial and error, it changes, and with each repetition you improve it. In fact, the process I went through with my first novel was very different from what is pictured above. What I’ve drawn here is based on my own experience and what I have learned. I can already tell you that in practice, there may very well be even more drafts. And cupcakes (one hopes).

Please feel free to use this illustrated page— share it, print it, color it, mark it off like a checklist for your own book– and, if so inclined, share what your own book-writing process looks like in the comments below!