Studies of Changing Words

I know, I haven’t completed a “Weird Science in the News” post in a very long while. However, I have continued to collect links to science-related articles. Two of these I wanted to share today.

The New York Times’ article “Your Brain on Fiction” is a two-page opinion piece that discusses the neuroscience of fiction. In summary, researchers are finding that fiction expands upon the real-life experiences of its readers.  Confirmation is nice, isn’t it?

In “Color-coded text reveals the foreign origins of your words” on i09, you can see how words from various places have formed into modern versions of the English language. My favorite part of this article is where it mentions Kinde’s future Website. His analytical program could really help when writing historically based fantasy and historical fiction. Maybe when it’s available, some of us will spend less time looking up the origin on every suspect word for such stories.

Further Reading

Papers from The Mar Lab

“What are the origins of the English Language?” answered by Merriam-Webster

Hey, It’s 2012!

I’m sorry my last post was months ago. At first, I didn’t feel like posting, then I was waiting for something…good enough…for blogging. Whatever “good enough” means.

Maybe a status update is good enough. If so–

I’m currently working on RITN, my young adult science fiction novel.

Almost all of the rough draft was in longhand, but my sister graciously typed up 200 pages and gave me the draft as a Christmas present. I immediately started reading through the typed/electronic version, changing aspects that my sister didn’t know to change, and noting what I need to add, move, and otherwise rework.

For the first couple of weeks, all of the fears and annoyances from two years ago, when I last seriously worked on this novel, plagued me again. Then, the characters re-settled in my head. I realized I’d missed them. I also realized that my chances of completing RITN within this century are better than those for completing DeCo, my tortuous, militaristic science fiction novel.

What has also happened since last October is that a friend kicked me into submitting short stories that have sat around doing nothing useful for a couple of seasons. I’ve already received three personalized rejections from semi-pro and pro markets for 2012.

Between these accomplishments, a new job, and…um, well, my first pregnancy, this year has started well for me.

How about for you?

Perservering Through Eye Strain

Eye © Ann M. Lynn Writers who work entirely on computers must possess better health than I do.

Ocular migraines have been limiting the amount of time I can spend on computers. By the time I reach home for the night, my eyes are usually too tired to allow me to work on critiquing stories by members of my online group, posting on sites on which more than a couple sentences are expected, or typing what was written on paper during the week.

Some days, however, I must work on these tasks. Certain actions can help with this.

  • Frequently take breaks from the screen. Look at physical objects for several seconds.
  • Blink. Dry eyes are more prone to hurt, and blinking helps bring moisture back to the eyes. Don’t wait for breaks to blink.
  • Relax the eyes! Squinting causes more strain.
  • Use eye exercises while relaxing the entire face. My old chiropractor was the first doctor to explain to me that moving the eyes in all directions for several repetitions can help unlock them. Reading on standard sizes of computer screens require little eye movement, and most of us will stare at the same spot for ridiculous amounts of time.
  • Use the Page Up and Page Down keys instead of scrolling. This forces the eyes to move more.
  • Adjust the monitor’s brightness and contrast settings. For me, switching the default brightness and contrast levels helps a bit.
  • Adjust the font size, when possible, by holding Shift on the keyboard while scrolling upwards with a mouse until the font size is large enough. (Holding the Shift key while scrolling down will decrease the size.)

Another trick–my favorite when I’m at home–is simply to print and hand-write as much as practical.

Too bad ink and paper are expensive.

Resources

“Eyestrain” article from the Mayo Clinic

“How can I change the font size in my browser?” by Computer Hope

Further advice: “Seven Tips To Beat Eyestrain” from Writer’s Relief

Shadow’s Second Year in Review

Yellow Fireworks - Click for source

This blog is two years old!

For last year’s anniversary, I posted blog statistics and blogging goals for 2010. How did the second year compare to the second? Let’s find out.

Posts: 45
(13 fewer than in 2009)

Comments: 230
(95 more than in 2009 — Thank you, readers!)

Total Views: 3,730
(about 870 more than 2009)
Most Views in a Month: 354 in March
(96 more than September 2009)
Most Views in a Day: 40 on August 22
(6 more than on September 8, 2009)

Most Viewed Posts from 2010:
The First Letter of Character Names

Are Non-Genre Authors Slow? (Parts I and II)
The Hero vs. the Main Character

Terms Bringing in the Most Traffic:
bliaut / surcoat and similar terms took about 90 visitors to Glimpse
writing on mirror / mirror writing / writing in condensation
(for How to Fight Writer’s Block With a Mirror)
variations of “forever by judy blume”
(for The Elusive Definition of a Young Adult Novel)

Like last year, the tags on images brought in most of the traffic from external searches. I still wonder if this is problematic for visitors.

Visitors wanting to know a way or reason for writing on a mirror might find useful information in my post. Unfortunately, visitors won’t find on Shadows any sewing instructions, history, or descriptions of medieval garments (such as a bliaut and surcoat) nor  a review of Judy Blume’s novel Forever…yet.

Goals: “My goals for 2010 include convincing more people to subscribe–
Fast and easy! Click on the button now!–
posting more consistently, and presenting readers with something useful in every post.”

Did I meet these goals? Yes, no, and not as much as desired.

I won’t set goals for 2011, because there’s too much uncertainty. Blogging is low on a long list of priorities list. Instead of guessing at what I can accomplish for the year, I’ll concentrate on private, monthly goals.

Do you have any suggestions for me or advice for bloggers/writers in general? Now is a great time to speak up.

Monday’s Topic: Review of yWriter Software

Question Tag

I’m it!

Jennifer caught me in a game of virtual tag that requires It to answer eight specific questions. Finally, here is my response to her post, “tagged for eight.

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

Healing hands. My initial response was “flight”, but I would abuse that. The ability to heal others with my body’s energy wouldn’t come with the urge to jump off of cliffs at every opportunity.

2. Who is your style icon?

Dictionaries define icon as an image or an object of devotion. I’m devoted to my own styles, each based on a myriad of sources. There’s no one person that I’ll look to when choosing clothing, hairstyles, makeup, movements, storytelling methods, or anything else. An icon would possibly endanger my sense of self.

3. What is your favorite quote?

Two rush to mind:

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”  – Thomas H. Huxley

“I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”  – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

I’m not sure. One of the more confusing compliments I’ve received: “You have nice shoulder blades.”

One of the more exciting comments: “I dreamed of your main character last night.”

5. What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now?

The last CD I listened to is still in my computer’s CD drive. It’s the soundtrack of The Last of the Mohicans.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Both. I don’t like to sleep.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Cats. They are more independent, less slobbery, and generally quieter than dogs. I can also relate to them more easily. Body language is extremely important to them, yet they’ve developed sounds specifically to communicate with humans. I appreciate that complexity.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

This one is easy! The answer is in “Understanding Shadows in Mind“.

The Newly Tagged

Justin and Christi, are you playing? If so, you’re It!

Versatile Bloggers

“Present this honour onto 15 newly discovered bloggers.” That was part of the Versatile Blogger Award presented to me a couple weeks ago.

As I don’t follow as many as fifteen bloggers, I’ll have to cut that number down.

I’m pleased to present the Versatile Blogger Award to five bloggers: Jennifer Neri, Justin A. Williams, Meredith Mansfield, Steve Husk, and a man known online as tchernabyelo.

˜

On her charming blog, Jennifer Neri shares her experiences with writing fiction and as a mother.

Justin A. Williams is a new blogger, having started The Key of the Twilight earlier this year. He provides frequent updates on the status of his short stories and his developing fantasy novel, as well on his thoughts about art in general.

Meredith Mansfield is another new blogger. She posts regularly on her blog about the status of her novels and about the advantages and disadvantages of the assumptions and techniques used to write fiction.

At 46th Cyber Squandron, Steve Husk uses a unique style of blog (“Bloggathah”) to write about anything and everything that interests him. Elsewhere on his site, he publishes about the status of his fiction.

The Land of Wind and Ghosts contains the stunning nature photography, casual articles, and updates on the life and fiction of  tchernabyelo (whose offline name I will one day remember).

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Jennifer, Justin, Meredith, Steve, and tchern: This is for you. Thank you for your involvement in the blogging community.

Versatile Blog Award