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Don’t Give Up!

If you’ve been grinding away at your NaNoWriMo novel, don’t give up!

Seriously, no matter how close you are, or are not, to getting 50,000 words of your novel out before the end of the month, keep writing. It’s the only way your dream of writing a novel will come true.  I know it’s hard, because I’ve tried at least twice, but if you’ve been writing regularly this month, you’ve already done more than most people.  And, possibly, you’ve done more than you ever have in the past.  Remember, that’s the real point of National Novel Writing Month; to write more and prove to yourself that you can do it!
So, to help keep you inspired if you’re flagging, take a small break and read one of the articles collected at Bookbaby to help inspire you to finish strong and keep writing!  They might not all fit how you feel right now, but hopefully you’ll find a little inspiration in one of them to keep going.
But, if you need a little more inspiration to not give up, check out 25 Lies Writers Tell Themselves and Start To Believe at  If you’ve been writing for any length of time, I’m pretty sure you’ve told yourself at least one of these lies at least once.  But, remember, they’re lies!  Go take a look at the actual truth behind them and then get back to writing.

Seriously, your break is over!  Write!  Write!  Write!

Naming Names

Naming is hard.

Naming things can be one of the most difficult tasks for an author. Whether it’s naming people, places or things, the endless work of finding just the right name, one that sounds realistic and fits the circumstances, can be trying work. For me, place names are the hardest to do well. No matter what the setting, naming towns and streets can be challenging. As it turns out, it can be challenging in the so-called “real” world, too. Back in 2013, Gizmodo mentioned a book titled Real Estate Subdivisions by Stanley L. McMichael that, among other things, included a list of more than 750 potential names for your subdivision. The article also included links to a Real Estate Subdivision Name Generator on-line. But, personally, I was fascinated with the idea of that crazy book by McMichael, published in 1949. I chased it down, eventually, and I wasn’t disappointed. Besides the list of names in the appendix, there are also fascinating chapters on everything from planning your future subdivision to setting up a home-owner’s association to deed restrictions, including restrictions along racial lines. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. But, still, the names of places remain.
Just because I’m a sharing kind of guy, I typed all those names from that appendix into a single text file and I’m giving you all a link to it from my other site,, here: Subdivision Names Text File.
Some of the names sound a bit odd, but others are actual names of places I’ve been. In fact, several of the “suggested” names in this book are places in the Chicago area where I have or had relatives living!

In any case, I hope you find the file helpful. I might add, too, that if you add “Street”, “Lane”, “Court” or “Avenue” to almost any of the names in that file, they’d make fine street names!
And, if you need more help with any aspect of your world building, check out the other resources available at the World Building page.

Friday the Thirteenth

That’s right, today is Friday the Thirteenth.

I used to assume that Friday the Thirteenth was considered unlucky due to some Biblical association, since so many superstitions seem to tie back to some obscure custom related to religion. Personally, I assumed it had something to do with Judas being the Thirteenth Apostle or some such. But, I’ve since found out that nothing could be further from the truth. As it turns out, Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky because of its association with the plot to suppress the Knights Templar, according to this article on No, seriously! And, I quote:

The modern basis for the Friday the 13th superstition stems from Friday October the 13th, 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant against “the Knights Templar”. The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power that they had held for so long. There Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested and before he was killed, was tortured and crucified. A Black Friday indeed!

So, there you have it, Friday the Thirteenth is a global conspiracy, though, for a nice twist, the Knights Templar or Freemasons aren’t behind it, but, rather, the victims of it! Which I appreciate, incidentally, because I am both a Freemason and, via another Masonic body, a Knight Templar, ironically.
Personally, I usually have better luck on Friday the Thirteenth, but, then, I always have been a little out of step with the world. Oh, and if you’re not buying that story, here’s a link to some alternate ideas why everyone else is afraid of Friday the Thirteenth.

And, yes, I know I posted about this earlier in the year, but, hey, I figured it was worth hitting again.
Next week, we’ll be back to writing advice for the NaNoWriMo challengers.

Some Starting Advice

Advice for writers.

Specifically, for writers attempting to complete the National Novel Writing Month challenge.
First, jump over to Writer’s Digest and check out their 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days.  And, also, keep in mind that you’ll have 31 days to do it, but, if you haven’t started already, you’ve wasted at least five days.   (But, it’s still not too late!)  But, I’m going to assume you have started and maybe just need a distraction from all the work.  If that’s the case, jump over to that link and check out what the experts from Writer’s Digest suggest might help.  Out of the 30 tips, surely one of them will.  One thing, though, they recommend buying a bunch of books from their site.  I don’t at this point.  If you don’t have them or haven’t read them, there’s no time.  You should be writing now!   And, hopefully, you have already read No Plot, No Problem, by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo.  It’s specifically geared toward this writing adventure and would be a great help.

And, since you’re still in the early stages of your work, and maybe need a break from writing for a bit, you might go back and check your work so far to see if you’ve done one of the many things that literary agents suggest you NOT do when writing your novel.  The list of what NOT to do when beginning your novel was collected by Chuck Sambuchino at Writer Unboxed and is a great list of the worst ways to start a novel.  So, if you’ve done any of those, fix it quick!  Especially if you’re stuck and need to rework something anyway.  Best to do it now, before you get too much further.

Above all else, keep writing!  And check back for more writing advice later in the month!

Start Your NaNoWriMo Manuscript!

If you’re going to do it, now’s the time.

Personally, I’m not going to have time, again, this year, though I’d dearly love to join in the challenge of writing 50,000 words of fiction for National Novel Writing Month.  November has never been the best month for me to do this, with all the social obligations and extra work I often have around the holidays.  Still, as I always say, maybe next year.
So, yes, this month I’ll be posting resources for writers on Fridays, to help keep you hearty souls who are participating in NaNoWriMo going.

Good luck, everyone!

Halloween Movies For Free

Staying in this year? Why not watch a movie?!

No, seriously, why not watch a scary movie on Halloween?
Honestly, I’m not usually into scary movies, because, well, they mostly aren’t actually scary.  But, I do dig some of the classics, like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which is often cited as the true genesis of the current zombie craze.  And, the other classic, black and white film Nosferatu terrified me when I was a kid, even though it was silent.  (Also, fun fact, I loved that it starred the German actor Max Shreck!  What a great name for a horror movie actor!)
Well, you can check out which ones you can stream on-line for free at  They’ve got a pretty comprehensive listing there, but there are some real stinkers mixed in, too.  Also, be warned the links from OVGuide may not be safe for work or younger readers.

Movie Makeup for Halloween

There’s still time, if you’re going to dress up for Halloween!

Personally, I don’t bother, but, if you do, then there is still some time to work in some high-quality make-up to your costume.  I love watching shows about science-fiction effects and monster makeup, like SyFy’s Face Off, and I’ve always wanted to do that stuff, but I never seem to have the time.  And, I have so little artistic skill that I have a hard time coloring inside the lines!  But, Lifehacker insists that they can help you use Hollywood-style makeup effects as part of your costume.  They have all the links there that you might need, including videos.

If you do it, let me know!  And, share photos!
(By the way, the link to Face Off includes free, full-length episodes, so, go ahead and check it out!)


Upgrade Your Instant Noodles

I love ramen noodles, much to my blushing bride’s chagrin.

I never understood what the stigma around eating instant ramen was all about.  I love instant ramen!  I’ve tried lots of different varieties, but mostly for flavor ideas.  Maybe it’s the cheapskate in me, but I love the cheapest instant ramen we can get at our local grocery store; Maruchan Instant Lunch.  They’re a mere 29 cents each most of the time and often go on sale at 10 for a dollar.  My wife, who worries about my health, thinks instant ramen isn’t good for me, but I think we just need to stock up on some of the better upgrade opportunities for cheap ramen!
Personally, I like to add the occasional hard-boiled egg, especially to chicken-flavored instant ramen.  But, I’ve also been known to add pre-cooked, frozen shrimp to shrimp-flavored ramen and left-over beef or pork to other flavors.  Of course, I often will add various spices I may have laying around or something more exciting like sriracha, to literally spice things up.  (You can get more ideas for ramen upgrades at Serious Eats, but they get pretty complicated.  I keep things simple.)

But, my personal love of instant ramen aside, what I’m really bringing to you is a link to the World Instant Noodles Association.  Yes, that’s right, there’s an entire organization devoted to the love of my favorite high-sodium indulgence.  In fact, WINA is endorsed by  Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles!  You can’t get a better vote of confidence than that!
And, along with the latest news and updates about the world of ramen, you can find out all about the history of instant noodles and even about their use as emergency food in disaster areas at the WINA website.  For instance, did you know that Momofuku Ando invented what we think of as instant ramen in 1958?  And improved them into a single-serving in 1971 under the now famous brand “CUP NOODLE”?  He’s also behind the innovative Space Ram, instant noodles actually eaten in space by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in July 2005.  Instant ramen are the food of the future!

And, if you still don’t haven’t had enough information about instant ramen and DIY improvements, here’s a video for you to watch before you grab lunch:


Next week, I’ll try to get something posted before I get hungry for lunch, since that obviously influenced my choice of links to share this week.
Enjoy your weekend!

Apollo Archive

I love space.

Recently, thanks to the Martian, there’s been a lot of attention on NASA and space exploration.  Frankly, I think there should be more attention paid to the incredible work that NASA does and a larger portion of our National budget should be spent on what they do.
As a photographer, I admire the large volume of images that they release to the public domain every year.  Images that inspire.  Images that educate.  Images that, I hope, lead us to think about life in this universe of ours beyond our own, little world.
So, when I saw a link earlier this week to the Apollo Archive on Flickr, I knew I had to share it with you all.  There’s not much else for me to add, but go take a look at Kipp Teague’s little “About” page describing the project.  It’s not actually run by NASA, but it wouldn’t be possible without them and their help.

So, there you are.  Short and sweet this week.  Just a simple link to amazing photos of our space exploration history.

Cutting The Cable

It seems to be all the rage, but I think we’re going to do it anyway.

I killed “cable” television a number of years ago, after having lost it during Hurricane Ike in 2008.  I used Netflix, before streaming was really a thing people did, and binge-watched shows a disk at a time.  Lost made a lot more sense when I watched four episodes a night, and not one a week.  The plot continuity between episodes was a lot easier to…
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