Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Research: Mars Rover - Inspiration, Lingo, and the Everyday

As you know, one of my WIPs is a YA sci-fi. So when an engineer from the NASA Mars Rover project spoke at the University here in New South Wales last week, obviously I had to jump on the opportunity to geek out with some fellow earth-and-space exploration fans!
Real World Sci-Fi: Mars Rover

I was rushing out the door and almost didn't take my notebook with me - thinking "well my story isn't really about little robot digging machines." But then I ran back and got it, and I was so glad I did. And it got me to thinking about the importance of different kinds of research.

'Research' for Inspiration: 
(It's not just about getting the facts right!)

Ok, so it IS really important to research for facts-sake. There's a great post about that this week over at One Ya Editor. But research can also be about getting inspired. Maybe you go to a talk, or visit a city, or read a book, or consult an expert, or go beachcombing. Maybe a bunch of what you see and hear and experience isn't directly relevant to your book. But either way, exploring new territory does help you see the world from a different perspective.

Research for the little 'Daily-Life' Details: 

I learned so much at the Mars Rover talk, and a bunch of what I learned didn't have much to do with the Mars Rover project or even the science behind it. It was more about the people and their lives and relationships while working on the project. And this insight was just as fascinating! A smattering of fun facts:

  • Martian Time - One of the engineers had his family live on the "Mars clock" during the project.
  • Inter-Office Conflict - The engineers and the scientists had an ongoing 'tug-of-war' deciding whether to land in a place that was safe (flat) or a place that was interesting (Mars equivalent to the Grand Canyon)
  • Even the Big-Timers Get Nervous - The director was in such shock after the successful landing that he had to physically shred his non-victory speech so he didn't accidentally read it to the press.

Research for the background Lingo: 

Mars Rover's shrinking Landing Ellipse
There's a ton of vocab that every profession takes for granted. So while my Environmental Science background had me tuned in when they were discussing alluvial fans, there was a lot of new lingo I learned! All great stuff for a some realism to the dialogue and description in a sci-fi story!

  • Landing Ellipse - the oval of uncertainty re: rover landing location
  • Science Payload
    • Everything brought to Mars is a "payload" - the key bits in this case being scientific equipment
  • "Rad Hard" Computers
    • Radiation hardening is important for microchips headed through space - so that they aren't damaged by intense cosmic rays
  • Mars 'Planetary Protection Program'
    • Everything headed to Mars is irradiated so if we were to colonize, we wouldn't end up with the same weeds we find in Florida.
  • The Pat Down
    • When rover Curiosity landed, it gave itself a "pat down" much like we would after picking ourselves up from a fall.
  • Other random phrases: biological potential, biomarkers, cruise/approach/entry/descent, environmental characterization, hand lens imager.
  • More Lingo Here!

And of course, this post would be completely incomplete without a shout-out for the
Cool Things to Find video, with vocals by my fellow islander, the lovely Cara Peacock! *waves*

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pitch Factory - Twitter Pitch Logline Generator

Need a logline or Twitter Pitch?

If you're tearing your hair out because there's a contest coming up and you don't have an elevator pitch, STOP.

Sit back, relax, and let the Pitch Factory
                                         generate a logline for you

At the very least, this is something to get you started! Hope you find them helpful and/or entertaining! Have fun!

Click one to get started

Character Journey
Pitch Generator

High Stakes
Pitch Generator

Pitch Generator


Pitch Generator

Note: I am far from javascript expert. I tried to make these forms as user-friendly as possible, but if there are glitches or bugs, please let me know in the comments section!

Additional Resources:

Pitmad Pitches that got Requests: Jan 2013 Pitches || March 2013 Pitches || Sept 2014 Pitches  || March 2016 Pitches

Twitter Pitching Resources: Pitch Myths || Pitch Recipes || Pitch Contest Calendar || Using Tweetdeck to Monitor Contests || Twitter Pitch Party Resource Roundup  ||

Beyond this Blog:

More Logline Fun: Generate a Random Zombie Logline // Screenwriter's Utopia Generator // Logline It Share //

More Links for those Actually Looking to Pitch: Christina Farley - Twitter Your Way to a Perfect Pitch // Nathan Bransford - The One-Sentence Pitch // Becca Weston - Building Your Pitch // Rachelle Gardner - One Sentence Summary // RG - Crits & Tips // DWA - #WVTP Winning Pitches // Literary Rambles - Loglines // Query Tracker - Loglines // Writer's Store - Writing Loglines that Sell // Likely Fictions - Pitch Wars Analysis //

Happy V-Day everyone!

Got any other ideas for pitch formula that I could put into the Pitch Generators?  Notice any bugs? Thoughts? Cupcakes? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ava & Will's Kissing Scene for Cupid's Literary Connection

Image Source
I'm participating in the Kissing Scene Competition hosted at the fantastic Cupid's Literary Connection! It's a blog-hop, so be sure to check out the other entries!

This scene is NOT from the manuscript I entered in the Blind Speed Dating Event  (I'm entry #146), or from either of the other projects I've described on this site. It's from a special pet project of mine: an as-of-yet untitled YA Contemporary set in my hometown ... because apparently two WIPs weren't enough for me!

And now, the scene:

We stand on the strip of rain-washed asphalt, behind the orange barricade separating us from the line of cars. It’s misting, and water beads dust his hair as he looks at me, past me - I can’t tell. I look down at my shoes, and the familiar gravel of this walkway: the place to say goodbye.

Will speaks first. “Avalee?”

My eyes flick upward. Beyond him, a group of campers dangle out their window waving red plastic cups, honking and hollering as they inch toward the ferry.

“Remember that night, on the Fourth of July?” he asks.

The night the fireworks got rained out and we’d run under the trees wrapped in his wool blanket. His arm around me, pressed against the length of mine, and the musk of damp earth and madrone. I was suddenly so acutely aware of him. Him, the boy I’d known my whole life, yet hadn’t.

We used to pick blackberries together in the rush of August before the autumn fogs came, dusting the berries in powdered-sugar mildew. We’d crush their tang between our fingers and paint each other’s faces. I never noticed him grow up. And then Sienna came.  And she did.

His eyes are still on me, reflecting the gray sea.

I should’ve said something, done something, back then. But I was scared.  He went to the party, and I didn’t, and the next day, they were together.

Of course I remembered that Fourth of July. It was the night I realized I’d lost him.

He shifts ... closer?  “I just want you to know - things would have been different if-“

He doesn’t need to do this. “Will, last night-

“This isn’t about last night,” he says, halving the half-step between us. “It’s about right now,” he murmurs, finger on my cheek. “It’s about always.”

And then he’s there. His lips on mine.

And the fact that he’s leaving and I’m staying and we live in different states, doesn’t matter. In an instant all those years we’ve been apart melt away, and I’m back there, on that blanket on the Fourth of July, standing in the rain. 


image credit


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