COFW Writers Conference

I have spent the past 2 days in Columbus at the COFW (Central Ohio Fiction Writers) conference, and it has been an amazing experience. I have met authors at all different levels, from just starting out to best-selling. I have seen some great presentations. All of them have been entertaining, and they’ve been very informative too.

I have to say that the best part has been having the invited agents and editors and featured published authors available for anyone to talk to. The tables in the ballroom had a name from someone in the industry posted, and we could pick who we would sit with for the various events. I met three agents just on a casual basis and just got to talk to them like a normal person.

I don’t think if it had been a larger conference that I would have gotten a chance like that. I hate the idea of a conference with thousands of hopeful authors constantly crowding the agents in attendance. Sure, there’s probably more agents there, but would you really get the chance to get to know them?

The conference was really well done all around. The speakers and topics were great and timely. I feel a lot more confident in my writing abilities and even my future marketing attempts don’t seem as scary any more. I left that conference with the feeling of “I can really do this!” and that’s the best feeling ever!

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 255-261

This was kind of a weird and disjointed section, and it didn’t hold my interest as much as some of the last ones had. But here goes.

The Rostovs are leaving town in their cart caravan, and the family is trying to hide from Natasha the fact that Andrew is among them and probably dying. Then they see Pierre dressed as a peasant. We flip to Pierre, who is helping a friend with some books and suddenly decides to dress like a peasant and procure a gun. Is he going out to fight like a common person? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Then it shows us Napoleon in Moscow and compares abandoned Moscow to a beehive without a queen. In a long, long, metaphor. And a graphic one. It was well described but overdone. Like Tolstoy was maybe trying to show off his knowledge of beekeeping.

Then we see someone who is a poor Rostov kinsman, but that doesn’t seem that important, at least at the moment.

Then we see a bunch of the people left behind turn into an angry mob, but I didn’t care about any of them and just wanted to get through the chapter to something more interesting.

And that was it. Hopefully next week we will be more on track for the actual story. Hopefully.

Exploring Space: Telescopes

Here’s what I’ve been learning from the National Geographic: Exploring Space issue:

There are some pretty amazing telescopes out there. There’s one that apparently can see so far that the light from that area of the universe is just reaching us from the universe’s creation 13.75 billion years ago. There’s also one they want to make that will specifically look for planets that could possibly be supporting life like Earth. I have no idea how they make such things, and  I love looking at the pictures they send. (The little boy I was trying to put asleep one day while reading the magazine loved the pictures too, and I had to put the magazine down for a little bit so he’d close his eyes and go to sleep!)

My dad got a telescope when I was little, but aside from looking through it a few times I never got that excited about it. Honestly, though I love learning about space and reading about space, and I’d love to go to space, staring at space doesn’t appeal to me as much. I guess I’d rather imagine what it would be like to actually be up there–making up a world in my own head rather than looking at what’s really there. I’d like to imagine beyond the pictures to what the pictures could mean (even if that meaning is pretty much a fantasy in my head).

Exploring Space: Relying on NASA

Here’s what I’ve been learning from National Geographic: Exploring Space issue:

This magazine has gotten my hopes so high about the possibility of people really getting into space and exploring and even colonizing. Then they have to go and talk about how NASA doesn’t even have any kind of Mars mission in the works until 2035. That’s a really long time.

The problem is they don’t have the funds or government interest to do anything like that. They can’t make the next generation equipment, and so our progress is slowing, yet discoveries and our potential abilities for space travel are increasing at a huge rate.

But I feel like we shouldn’t just be sitting around and waiting for the government to do this for us. I hate that we expect the government to take care of the things we really care about for us instead of going out and finding a way to do it ourselves. I’m not trying to be political here. It’s just a basic life statement. If you want to do something right then do it yourself.

Now I’m about to site a sci-fi novel, which is fiction, but is still thought-provoking: In The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, the Jesuits end up taking the initiative in contacting a newly discovered alien species. They wanted to do it their way, so they just went. I think there were some repercussions for that from the government in the second book, but I didn’t like that one as much as wasn’t able to get very far into it. But, anyway, it’s a thought on the same track.

Anyway, there are lots of independent corporations getting into the space race, and that’s really cool. I really think these companies and other individuals will be more influential in getting us the push we need for some real space exploration than a huge, burdened, government agency. What do you think?

 

Exploring Space: Space Elevator

I’ve been learning so much spacey stuff! I have no idea if I’ll use any of it, but I’ve always loved space, so who cares?

I’m still reading the National Geographic: Exploring Space issue. I’m also almost through 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, in which a space elevator is featured as a way of getting from Earth to space. When I first read about it I pictured a tall, skinny black skyscraper that stretched into the sky like a never-ending obelisk, which means it would sway like crazy. The only thing in it was an elevator like you’d find in any hotel.

Let me clarify that this is now how Ms. Robinson described it, because I know that tons of people and things ride in her elevators and there is some kind of show with singing going on as they go up, but that’s still what I picture when I hear “space elevator.”

In this National Geographic, they talk about the idea for a real, live space elevator. There’s actually a space elevator competition where contestants compete to develop parts that will lead to a real space elevator. It won’t look quite like the one I pictured, though. It sounds like it will operate on a super, super strong cable that stretches up into space (there is a competition to make such a cable). It will have to rotate with the Earth, and there needs to be a counterweight at the top to keep it nice and taut.

The elevator car is another competition. The idea is to have a big container move up this wire, powered by laser energy. They’d the container to be about the size of an 18 wheeler trailer, and the idea is for it to carry up cargo and supplies that would waste rocket fuel, but people are a consideration as well. I guess a spaceship would have to dock at the top and pick everything up–but I picture a whole Naval-style launching pad where space craft can take off and land without expending the kind of fuel required to exit Earth’s atmosphere. They can save their power for getting them on an off other planets, like Mars.

It’s a cool idea, and yet another thing I had no idea even existed. Research can be a great thing.

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 248-254

We see what’s going on in Moscow now that the battle of Borodino is over. It’s not going too well, though some characters are in a bit of denial (triggered, I’m sure by all the mixed messages going around)–the Rostovs in particular are having trouble getting things together, as usual. I think the Rostovs could be a sitcom family. They are quite characters, and none of them are very “serious” characters in the way Andrew tends to be.

Petya is on leave and is playing around with Natasha instead of helping out or spending time with his mother, who spends her time feeling sorry for herself and feeling neglected by her children. The only one helping to actually do something is Sonya, who’s not even really related to them. And she’s depressed about news that Nick has taken up with Mary, yet she’s still helping.

They finally decide to leave, and on packing day they decide to let wounded soldiers use their house when they’re gone. Then Andrew turns up. I knew he wasn’t dead. But we don’t hear any more from him for now.

Natasha finally pitches in with the packing, and they get done and are ready to load the carts when the soldiers ask if they can spare some room for them because they don’t want to be left behind in Moscow either. The Rostovs have wonderful hearts and pretty much leave all of their stuff behind to help all of the soldiers. They’re probably in big, big financial trouble now, but they really didn’t need all of that crap, and hopefully their good deed will be well rewarded.

Exploring Space: Stuff in Space

From the National Geographic: Exploring Space

I am learning about all kinds of things floating around up there that I had no idea existed. There’s this Asteroid Vesta that was just offhandedly mentioned. It’s in the Asteroid Belt, which I did know about. I guess it got pummeled by another asteroid at some point and all its debris has come to Earth.

And then there’s the Oort Cloud. It is way, way, way out there. 3000 times the distance of Pluto’s orbit from the Sun. It is made up of a bunch of comets still somehow under the sun’s control and orbiting. They think that’s the final edge of our solar system. It also marks the halfway point to the closest star to us. It kind of makes the planets around us seem closer even though they are still way, way far away. I had never heard of this Oort Cloud that I can recall, but it’s pretty cool. Like an asteroid belt of comets.

Oh, and NG has also told me that apparently all of the planets orbits are not permanent tracks but are changable. There’s a gas giant like Jupiter in another system that had somehow jumped off its track and made a new orbit that spins super fast and out of control, zips close to its star and then slingshots way out. That sounds like a crazy place. But what could have made it do that. I think alien interference.