Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Weeks of Big Fat Flying Ships

My last two reads have one thing in common: they feature large flying ships.

By now the regular know I love hot air balloons. It is a love that extends to all things flying ships. Anything that flies and isn't an airplane or spaceship is bound to catch my attention.

No surprise, then, if I say that promises of these things was enough to make me read Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield and Winds of Khalakovo.


I'm not sure why I took so long to read this. Leviathan is, by large, the most recommended steampunk book around the internet. Whenever the "steampunk recommendations" topic comes up, it's at the top of the list. 

Flash news: It's there because it deserves to be.

I love this book. It picks up very fast, the two main characters are awesome, and the universe -- the universe! Of course the idea of Darwinists is going to appeal to the biochemist in me. I craved for descriptions of their work, and of the Leviathan's workings.

Official Leviathan art by Keith Thompson

A book that has a freaking huge whale flying through the sky because it is supported by a complex ecosystem of genetically-modified lifeforms is.. is... There is no word for how much this idea makes me happy. It just does. There's no resisting the Huxleys, either.

Besides the genius premise, Leviathan also has a tight plot, hilarious dialogues, characters to root for and it makes for an all-around awesome read.

The Winds of Khalakovo

Click the cover! Go visit Beaulieu's site.

I found Winds from what I believe is Margo's very first Cover Lust feature and immediately became jealous. I still am. With her recommendation about this writer and my immediate love for the four-masted airship, I could not resist buying this the moment I had my Kindle.

After reading Leviathan my craving for airborne adventure was great. I opened this book, ready to jump into an epic tale. I wasn't disappointed.
If you ever wondered where completely original fantasy epics had gone*, well, here's your answer. Winds is a refreshing story of great scale with an unique setting. It plays with a few familiar concepts (elementals, for example) but brings them about in a fresh and unexpected way, mixing russian influences in.

The plot is thick, fast-moving and full of unexpected turns. This book has high magic, political intrigues, racial tensions, arranged marriages, a love triangle (the best I've read about, ever) and much more. Including flying ships. I mentionned that was important, right?

So, please. Let yourselves be transported by the Winds of Khalakovo. You're in for a great ride (aand an expectant wait for the next tome!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Winter Tug of War

May 30th! What is May 30th? It is the School's Out 4Ever blogfest!

This is a winter story, though. Yep, snow in May.

My group of friends in cégep* were crazy and awesome, both. I was a part of the student's café and spent every single minute between 8 am and 6 pm that I wasn't in class there. Sometimes even minutes I should've been in class.

We did a lot of mad things in our time. The best of them, though, ought to be when we registered for the Winter Carnival's Annual Tug of War contest.

We had big guys at the Oxymel (that's the café's name). We could build a solid enough team, train a bit and have fun. After all, Quebec's Winter Carnival's is meant for kids, too!

We missed the footnote that said the army was in charge of organising this. This is what we were up against:

The man at the very back (you can only see his head) is Hugo Girard. He won the 2002 title for World's Strongest Man
No. It wasn't until January, when our team's captain had her first meeting with the organisation, that we realised what we were getting into. Imagine our surprise when she gathered the group, an amused and sadistic look on her face.

"You're going to kill me," she said. "All the other teams are made of military men, police or fire fighters. They're huge."

She could laugh. As captain, she didn't have to tug.

We went anyway, with out splendid "uniforms". This isn't an underdog story: we were crushed every single time. Well, except when they let Hugo Girard tug for our side. And that one match, at the very end, against the Navy team (they weren't as beef, and had the icy half of the terrain).

The animator kept teasing us. We had our vengeance when he asked us to pick any player to help us tug, and we demanded he did it (that was my idea and I am so proud of it. M'hahahaha).

This event was, without a doubt, the most fun I had all winter. We had all the other teams sign one of our aprons. We had snowball fights in the freshly-fallen snow. We were given consolation prizes and made friends with the Navy team (they were super awesome). It was humiliating, but in a way, that was the great part of it. We didn't have to be serious.

Our team was called the Carebears. We had silly aprons as a uniform. We chanted "Love and Happiness" as our 'war chant'  (it was Love and Dignity, but someone pointed out we'd lost dignity somewhere along the way).

 So, here, have a picture of my awesome team:

I'm second from the right, second row, with the stripped scarf!

Enjoy the summer! ;)

*Cégep is a special type of school we have here in Quebec that is kind of a mix between high school and university, which lasts two years and goes between the two. Our "high school" is a year shorter. It's complicated.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rosalind Franklin and the DNA discovery

Ladies and gents, I present to you, Rosalind Franklin:

This lady here is a british biophysicist, most known for her work in x-ray crystallography. She was a specialist in the field, and had successfully obtained what was qualified by another scientist, J. D. Bernal, as "amongst the most beautiful x-ray photographs of any substance ever taken".

I'm not discussing Franklin only because she was a good at x-rays, though in itself it's quite an achievement. Franklin had a great deal to do with the discovery of DNA structure, because she managed to take this picture:

Photograph 51
This, to a crystallograph, reads as "double helix". Apparently it's super obvious. I don't know. I'm no crystallograph.

What I do know was that this picture, one of the key elements leading to the discovery of DNA structure by Crick and Watson, was taken by Franklin's colleague and showed it, without her permission, to Crick and Watson.

They built their model based on this x-ray photograph, in addition to everything else they knew. Most think they couldn't have done it without Franklin's photo -- at least not so fast, which means they might not have been the first.

Now, not to remove the credit from Watson and Crick. They put together many pieces of a complex puzzle and came out with the right answer. That's an incredible achievement.

When they published their structure in 1953, however, the only mention of Franklin's work was as a footnote. Ten years later, Watson published a memoir recounting his discovery of DNA structure, The Double Helix. He discredited Rosalind Franklin on every occasion, calling her 'Rosy' and burying her contributions under allegations that she couldn't interpret her own data.

Crick, Watson and Wilkins received a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA and other nucleid acids.

Franklin died in 1958, at 37, due to the consequence of x-ray exposure (turns out, x-rays are like radium in this regard).

The rules of Nobel Prizes forbid posthumous nominations. Her name isn't on it, and will never be.

Thankfully, her story is becoming more widely known, and she is increasingly frequently included in the tales behind the discovery of DNA structure, perhaps one of the biggest scientific discovery of our times.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Longhand Post Writing

You know, yesterday's post about writing longhand? It was written... with pen on paper. Yep!

It took me exactly one page, which is nifty for scanning. So there you go, that's yesterday's post in all its handwritten glory. (ha!)

As usual, for a real and constructive post (I try), you can head at Wicked & Tricksy!

Back to writing with me. Look at the bar: I managed to get past 42,000 words. Progress!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writing Longhand

Creative Commons License photo credit: gregwake

I don't know if any of you noticed, but that progress bar on the side hasn't moved in a while. A long while. When April - with its Script Frenzy, A to Z Challenge and finals - rolled around, I stopped writing White Echoes to do everything else. Since then, I've only put a big 3000 words on the WIP, top.

Every time I sit down to write, I stare at the screen and feel completely disconnected.

It's been too long. These characters are light-years away, and even if I had Jacob Wonderbar's spaceship, I feel I couldn't cover the distance between us.

Except... as a writer, I always feel it's a terrible waste not to use a spare hour. When all I have to distract myself is a pen and a notebook - no blogs, no forums, no twitter - there aren't many other options than writing.

Writing longhand.

Here's where the magic comes into play: the moment I grabbed that pen and set the words on the page, I knew what to write.

My brain felt on fire (and soon, so did my hands) but I didn't care.

The pen let me do on paper what I struggled to do on the screen.

So perhaps I'm a bit old school. It's surprising, considering how much I love my Kindle and my two laptops and twitter and the interwebs. It doesn't change how I feel about the back and forth movement of my pen, the sliding of my hand on paper and the increasingly messy handwriting on the page, as the story takes over and I can't write quite fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

I love it.

I love it like an old flame that visits every other year, without warning, just when you need passion and abandon. It's messy and it hurts and afterward you have to clean it all up (retype) but damn, you don't regret what you did.

I'm getting carried away here. The point is, the next time you are stuck, take a pen (so you can't erase, only scratch off) and an empty notebook. Set the pen down on the blank page. Move your hand to form letters.


Announcement: For the NaNoWriMo participants among you, today is the Office of Letters and Light's Summer Donation Drive. This drive will serve to pay Camp NaNoWriMo (which provides encouragements and wordcount progress tools any time of the year) and the NaNoWriMo website's servers (as in, move them elsewhere so they don't crash in 2011).

There are cool prizes for those who donate -- exclusive posters, bumper stickers, etc. -- and you can check the details for Camp NaNo here, see the poster/sticker here, or donate at the store. The store will tell you what you can get, depending on how much you donate.

Now I really want November to come back. Talking about NaNo does that to me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coming Soon: The History Behind the Science

There are a great deal of women who were important to the history of science, and who were either purposefully erased from the records, simply forgotten, or had to go under a man's name for publication.

The truth is, when it comes to science, there's one thing I like more than the science itself... and that's the history behind it. Most important discoveries have a cool story behind them, and some are even a case of intense backstabbing -- as good as any political intrigue, if you ask me!

As inspired by this recent xkcd comic (the same Sommer posted at Tell Great Stories, for those who hang out at both blogs), I'll try to dig out some cool science discoveries for you. It might look something like the post on Osamu Shimomura, and the bit on how close he was to Nagasaki.

If you have any suggestions for these, especially if they are oft-forgotten women, please e-mail them to me at claudiea.writer AT gmail.com  I have a few topics lined up, but I want this to run as long as I can make it.

Starting Friday, with Rosalind Franklin and the discovery of DNA.

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Should Go Into the Woods

My internship has one precious advantage over my previous (well, current but "on pause") job: there is a lot of downtime, and I can do what I want with it. I try to do some housekeeping at the lab, of course, but there's only so much tip-racking I can put up with in a day.

The result is that I read a lot more. I bring my kindle along and can alternate between science papers and novels as I wish.

Last week I started (and promptly finished) David Gaughran's short story collections, If You Go Into the Woods.

So pretty and creepy and awesome!
So, how do I put this...







 More seriously, though, both of the short stories within are great to read. This is well worth the 0.99$ you have to pay through Amazon. It's short and sweet, perfect for a coffee break. I'm not a big short story reader, but these left me with no regrets at all.

For the record, David keeps a wonderful blog chronicling his progress through self-publishing, along with what he did to get there and what you need to know. It's an incredible wealth of information on the subject, so if you find yourself contemplating self-publishing, you should definitely keep an eye on it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Racking Tips

Science daily #1

It's been two weeks now since I started my internship, and the experiments I'm running allows for a lot of downtime.

If any of you have watched TV shows with *real* (hahahaha) science such as, let's say, CSI*, you've probably seen scientists put pipettes in the plastic little buggers in that picture (or any bigger, more colourful variant of these).

These are plastic tips. To the great dismay of scientists worldwide, they don't come with the box. You have to put all 96 plastic tips in the rack and then sterilise them before you can use them.

The kind of mindless, menial task nobody wants to do.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, your mind might have lit up at the word menial or mindless. Not that writing is either. It's been said before, however, that such tasks are great for writing.

I'm not sure what about the small, repetitive physical tasks frees the mind to go elsewhere, but it works wonders. Your imagination shifts into high gears and speeds away, running down new paths.

The folks at my lab don't understand why I love racking tips so much. If they saw how much I've managed to unravel and decide about one of my writing project, though, they would.

Try it next time you're stuck! Find some dishes to wash, a room to clean or clothes to fold, and you might find your writer's block isn't as big as you thought!

*It should be said that I watch and like CSI. It's okay if they take a hour to do something that might require 3-4 days. I don't mind. It's fun nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

School is Out? Maybe for you!

Today is going to be a short and sweet post. In fact, you should expect Thursdays to be quick presentations of news, funny videos or other announcements on a regular basis now. The reason is simple: you can get your fill of me at Wicked & Tricksy! And yes, I'm aware this makes you all sound addicted. A girl can dream!

So what is on the menu today? The School's Out 4Ever Blogfest!

This awesome no-seriousness-allowed blogfest was launched by my Wicked comrade Sommer Leigh, who always seems to have so many cool ideas bubbling in her head!

The idea is simple: on May 30th, you tell us a story about your time in high school. It can be anything. Go wild! Have fun! If you're out of ideas, click on the button for a link to Sommer's post, with prompts. Well, you should click anyway, because she has a Mr. Linky up for you to sign up. You know you want to.

Be sure to drop here on the 30th, too, for a wild story about tug-of-war, winter carnival and public humiliation!

Also, every time I read this blogfest's name, I can't help but think "I wish." School is out for the summer in my case, but certainly not forever!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Novel Love List

Often when I have to make a gut-wrenching decision about my story, I get a wee bit depressed. Killing a darling has a nasty side-effect: it makes you question everything else in the story.

I mean, if that scene you absolutely love wasn't any good, what about everything else you hold dear? Should it be trashed, too?

Of course not.

As a side note, I should say I believe killing your darlings isn't as much about removing all you hold dear as it is about taking out what has no place in the novel, whether you love it or not.

Now, back to the business at hand. Don't trash everything you love in a story. You'll hate what's left, and won't have any reason left to write it. No, after a good ol' darling-killing, there's only one thing you can do.

A Novel Love List

It's simple. You list everything you love about your novel in bullet form. You can do this whenever you feel your story drags, when you're no longer excited to sit at your keyboard and work on it. When you think it's all a pile of crap, and nobody will want to read it. 

Remind yourself why you would read it, first. Go back to what enticed you to write it.

Here's my White Echoes novel love list!

  • Hot air balloons. Aircrafts
  • Genetic engineer bad guy
  • Character with argyria
  • Propaganda!
  • Captain Vermen. Andeal. Seriously, I'd write it for these two guys.
  • Fireworks at the end. Literally!
  • Green-glowing roof
  • Virus and bacteria gone wrong. Scary as shit.
  • Hot air balloon. Oh, wait. Said that already.
  • Conspiracy. Manipulative jerks. Crowd control. FUN times.
 I could go on for a long time. It'd include several more instances of 'hot air balloon' but there'd be other things, too!

This little exercise is much like a pat on the back, but sometimes it's essential to remind ourselves why we write these stories and keep the flame alive.

Yes, your early love might not have its place in the story anymore. That doesn't mean the entire novel is worthless.

Look at it again. Love it. Write it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Burden of First Ideas

photo credit: MichaelConCarne
You guys all remember that first spark, right? The sudden connection of two different thoughts, opening a doorway into a new story. An deep and incredibly cool character springing in your mind, demanding your attention. Flashes of a powerful scene, gripping your heart despite the lack of context.

Powerful ideas smashing the door to our brain and forcing their way in.

Not that we complain. We love those. It means our creative mind is travelling at full speed and producing its best juice. It's exhilarating. Wild. The first step in a new world.

Our first step into a new world.

So often we want to make it part of the story. This moment caught our attention and hooked us into a story. They have to be good, right? Readers will love them.

Sometimes, though - not always - this isn't for the best. Sometimes you take a scene and work out who the people in it are, and why there's a man holding a gun to another's forehead, and why he's incapable of shooting, and as you build your story from the scene, you get new ideas.

Context, plot, structure, characters, themes... everything changes. You plan, plot, write, brainstorm. You search for the real story, and the more you do, the further you get from your first love. Before you realise it, you're on the third draft and the first powerful moment, the very inspiration for this story, well, it doesn't fit anymore.

This is hard. It's hard to look objectively at your first creative impulse and admit it no longer has its place in this story. Kill your darlings, they say. The hardest part is to admit it has gone from a great, tension-filled, epic moment to a purposeless darling.

It must be done, however. Don't let your first ideas drag your story back. If you're not sure about a scene, or a character, or a plot twist... try to consider it objectively.

What does it bring to the story? What is its mission? Is it essential, or is it a leftover from your first drafts in this universe? If you remove it, what is the difference?

(Also, keep in mind that sometimes it is only part of a scene or character that should be shot down. This is what I had to do)

Be truthful with yourself. If you have a darling on your hand, it is your duty to the story to take your shotgun out, charge it... and shoot.

It's for its own good.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Water For Elephants

I promised myself I would read Water for Elephants more than a year ago. It's outside of my genre, and outside of my usual tastes, but for this book I'd make an exception.

First, because this NYT bestseller was written during November 2006. NaNoWriMo 2006. This isn't the first published novel from Sara Gruen that was written during the November frenzy, but it is the best known one - the go-to example when you're asked if anything is ever published from what 200,000 participants create every year. It is proof that, with hard work and a lot of editing, a NaNovel isn't always meant for the trash bin.

Second because they made a movie out of it. Now, that wouldn't mean much to me, but when I looked up the distribution and read 'Cristoph Waltz', it was a whole different beast. Ever since I saw Inglorious Basterds, I have an undying admiration for Hans Landa (as a character!) and Cristoph Waltz acting work.

So that's why I picked it up.

I wasn't disappointed.

Water for Elephants is a great book from beginning to end. You fall in love with grouchy Jankowski right away and follow him gleefully as he embark on the wild and dangerous life of American circus in the 30s. The circus is absolutely fascinating. I can't speak for accuracy, because I had little prior knowledge of the subject, but damn, it feels real. I rushed through the story, hardly capable of pausing.

My only tiny gripe is the prologue, and it should be noted that I don't usually have problem with prologues. It wasn't a backstory prologue. It was a prologue that's actually an important scene later on, and which reveals very important element.

I understand how this raises tension and questions. I see the point. As I reader, though, I prefer not to have a solid idea of where the main storyline is heading before it has even started.

Let's be honest, though. This is far from enough to ruin the experience. I'd readily recommend the novel to anyone, and would even shove a copy in their hands if they seem too reluctant.

Next stop? The movie!

A Giant KAPOW!

Molecular models for the win!

I hope you backed up your lives, ladies and gentleman, as today might be the end of us all.

May 12th. A plague unleashed upon us all. A young boy, trading a corndog for a spaceship, shooting into space and blowing up the universe. Be ready for it!

It's time to party! 

May 12th is the release date of Jacob Wonderbar and the Giant Space Kapow, by the most awesome Nathan Bransford, whose blog and forums I've squatted for months now. Did I say he is awesome? Oh yes, I said he was awesome.

In honour of this launch, here is one explosive mix: Alkali Metals and Water!

P.S: Thursday is my post day at Wicked & Tricksy! Come check it out, if you dare.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Brainbow!

This is the third post of a three-part series on fluorescent proteins and neurobiology. The first part is on Osamu Shimomura and the second on the mutations made in the proteins (shiny pictures included).

Today? Today is... the BRAINBOW!

Brainbow image of hippocampal neurons. Courtesy of Jeff Lichtman/Harvard University

This, my friend, is what your brain looks like. Or, well, what it would look like if we used the fluorescent proteins in it.

You remember how last Tuesday I explained they could add a fluorescent protein to any other, making it easy to detect? And you remember the various colours created through genetic mutations? (If you don't, link at the top.)

Well, the Brainbow is perhaps the most spectacular use of this technique. Each individual neuron expresses a different amount of the red, blue and green mutants of the original GFP. Because the mix is not the same in each neuron, the resulting colour varies with every single neuron.

You can see, the result is striking. Since the technique was developped in 2007, multiple pictures were taken, some winning scientific images awards.

So here are some others, for your enjoyment!

Brainbow image of the dentate gyrus. Courtesy of Jeff Lichtman/Harvard University

Confocal microscopy by Tamily A. Weissman

I don't know for you, guys, but at this point I just call this art. Brainbow pictures give me an instant geekgasm. Neurons! With colours! Not to mention, this highlights the amazing complexity of our brains, and how much we've yet to learn about ourselves.

Kudos to the scientists working tirelessly on it. I'm too busy staring at the pretty picture!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fluorescent Proteins Part 2: Genetic Manipulations

This is the second post of a three-part series on fluorescent proteins and neurobiology. The first part is on Osamu Shimomura and the third will be on... the Brainbow! I really can't wait to get to the brainbow. 

So, our good friend Osamu Shimomura discovered green fluorescent protein in a tiny jellyfish. Cool, right? But what the hell can they do with this?

In 1962, not much. When genetic engineer techniques evolved and became viable researched tools in the 1980s, the possibilities became endless many.

The awesome thing with GFP is that you can attach it to other proteins. You just put the gene for it next to the other protein's gene, and when the cell produces the protein, it has a GFP attached to it. It's like magic, only it's real!

Proving the GFP could be attached and expressed by cells was made at Martin Chalfie's lab, the second recipient of the 2008 Nobel prize.

What they do with these proteins is that they attach it to another, then they send light of a particular wavelength on it. It absorbs, and gives back light at a different wavelength. It's not hard to detect that light, and the images we get are better with every passing year.

They modified the GFP to give it a wide range of colours and make it easier to insert. This work was made at Roger Tsien's laboratory. Tsien is the third recipient of the 2008 Nobel prize. He created mutants that were stable and produced a lot of fluorescence.

Pretty colours!

Then he and his lab had fun, put the proteins in bacteria and... created a beach!

That, my friends, is science at its best. Crazy and pretty!

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Beginnings

Apparently, Monday May 9th is the day of new beginnings. I've been running around the internet speaking about the first for two weeks now, so unless you haven't hung around the blog in a while, you all know about Wicked & Tricksy.

Wicked & Tricksy

The first post - Sommer's Community Post - is up at the moment. There's even comments on it, whoo! Click on the button to read the awesomeness and learn how to get wicked bookmarks!

That's not all, however! The second beginning is technically more important, and nearly as cool. I am starting an internship in a research lab, which is the last major hurdle between me and my Biochemistry major.

What that has to do with writing? Not much, except perhaps that this autumn, I am jumping into a one-year Creative Writing program.

Exciting things!

Tune back in tomorrow (tuesday) for more fluorescent proteins goodness!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fluorescent Proteins Part 1: Osamu Shimomura

This is the first post of a three-part series on fluorescent proteins and neurobiology. The second part is on the genetic mutations these proteins underwent and the third is on a spectacular use of them... the Brainbow! There will be shiny pictures, I promise.

You remember when I said there'd be more science around the blog? Well, it starts today and continues next week, with a short serie on neurophotonics.

Our first topic is Osamu Shimomura, recipient of the 2008 Chemistry Nobel Prize (with two others) and finder of the first green fluorescent protein.

This guy!
Let's have a little history!

Back in the 1962, a molecular and marine biologist, Osamu Shimomura, discovered and isolated a fluorescent protein from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. He might not have realised it back then, but this discovery would one day push neurology into a new era.

Osamu Shimomura has an interesting history, which is why he gets his own post. He lived in Isahaya, Nagasaki in 1945, 15 miles from the atomic bomb's epicenter. He was 16 at the time. Apparently, the bomb's explosion blinded him for thirty seconds, and he was later drenched by the bomb's "black rain" fallout. I don't know for you, but it feels crazy to think that if he'd been, say, visiting Nagasaki that day, neurology wouldn't be half as advanced as it is today.

At the same time, if the bomb had not been dropped, Shimomura might never have gone into sciences. To this day, he recalls having no interest in the subject at the time. In post-war Japan, however, you don't have that many educational choices. The bomb had destroyed the Nagasaki Medical College, forcing the pharmacy school to move... at a campus near his home. He joined, got his degree, and from there continued to the Nagasaki University, where he met his wife.

Life, huh?

His work with fluorescent protein was noticed by an american professor, Frank Johnson, who invited to Princeton to join his team in 1960.

Despite being found in 1962, it wasn't until the early 90s that biochemists began to realise the green fluorescent proteins' potential as a research tool.

But that's for next week! You can expect many cool pictures of fluorescent madness. What they do with these proteins is outright crazy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SOS Pictures - Relaying the Signal

Good news, friends! My brain is working. You'll have a real post tomorrow!

For now, however, I have a Wicked Partner in need of help. Sommer from Tell Great Stories is preparing a little video for an incoming book release. She can't give the details on the internet. It is a very secret project. But she needs pictures. Tons of them, all of a specific word.

You can help! You should help!

It will involve 10-20 minutes of being creative and e-mailing her a picture. Not a lot! She needs to receive these pictures before Tuesday May 10th.

Want more details? You can either comment on her SOS post or e-mail her at tellgreatstories@yahoo.com

I swear on my thousands of neurons (this is serious) that this is very very worthwhile.

P.S.: If you have an inkling what this might be, please don't say. Secrecy is so hard to keep in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fever and Giveaway -- Thankfully Not Combined

It would be mean to give away whatever I caught. Ironic, don't you think, that on the day I did my last virology exam, I caught a bad virus? The last 7-8 days have been full of sneezing, fever and coughing. Not good for blogging. Not good for writing.

This means that unless I get better tomorrow, it is likely there will be nothing new here until Monday 9th, AKA Wicked & Tricksy's launch!

Which brings us to our next topic. (ooh, transitions!)

First, if you aren't doing it already, I recommend you follow us on Twitter. I go there every day and ask one silly little question. Loving the answers so far! We are at Wicked_Tricksy.

Second... giveaways! I spoke of rumours of giveaways, and indeed, we will have things for you! During the first week, everyone who follows us and signs up for it will receive a cool, glossy, pretty and awesome (want adjectives. I have adjectives) bookmark designed by Sommer. During the fourth week, we're hosting a blogfest and challenge, at the end of which four lucky writers will receive mystery boxes of awesome

That sums it up! Don't forget, everyone: Wicked & Tricksy launches on May 9th, with a special Community Theme. Come join us! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Election Day

Today is a very special day in Canada. It's Election Day!

Let's be honest. When I turned 18 I was happier about the fact I could vote than the fact I could buy alcohol - and I love wine.

So, to my Canadian friends... I'm not going to tell you what to vote. You know what you want for your country. But please, please, for the sake of democracy, take twenty minutes of your day and vote.

Think about it. There are people dying these days in Lybia and elsewhere in the Middle East for a chance at democracy. We're lucky here. We can choose. It might not seem to make a big difference in our day-to-day life, but it does. And in a year, two years, ten years, the difference will be bigger.

Look at Canada today. Look at it five to six years ago. Try to tell me we haven't changed (whether you think it's a good or a bad change). We have.

It started with a piece of paper in a cardboard box.

If you don't know what to vote, because you haven't been following, I have to handy sites to help you out. CBC has a vote compass. It's a collection of questions on important political matters (30, I think) and at the end, it places the five political parties around you.

If all you know is that you don't want to vote conservatives, you can also enter your postal code in ProjectDemocracy. It will tell you, judging from the latest poll, what the best strategic vote is. (So I guess this isn't quite neutral from me. Oops.)

Do something for your country. Speak up. Vote.