Timelines and Writer Fodder

I’ve been looking for a timeline for Earth and her inhabitants. Like, when was first Homo species around compared to time of oldest tool found. And what else was going on when pyramids were being built. I have a very rough and wandering text file started but today got serious on looking for one. Hint: Google is your frenemy.

In 2017, some fossils from the Mediterranean region (initially found in 1944) were thoroughly examined with high-tech stuff. They determined they were Graecopithecus freybergi and existed over 7 million years ago. And were NOT in east Africa. But Greece and Bulgaria. Which tosses some theories for loops. They not only looked at the bones, but the layers of stuff around them, which helps with the timeline. They found other things, too. Like a type of grass that shouldn’t have existed there. And tons of dust from the Sahara. And that the area was an actual savanna biome.

That search result led me to look for “pre human remains” (human being Homo sapiens aka “anatomically modern humans”) which gave me the tip of an iceberg within Wikipedia.

Now, I know, Wikipedia is not to be trusted. They’re evil. They’re wrong. They’re too fluid. Blah blah. I disagree. And I also believe that one should never rely on a single source for information. The best part about Wikipedia is the “further reading”, “references”, “external links”, and the “see also” sections at the bottom of every article. I almost always start there and work my way through their pages and the information linked to them. So there.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, iceberg tip.

List of human evolution fossils is, like, wow. Listed in chronological order from oldest to newest. And, like most Wikipedia graphs, can be resorted into things like “date found” and “discovered by”. From there, I wanted to verify the time shorthand they (and other articles) were using: ka, Ma, Ga, etc. First I did a Google search which didn’t get me far. “Ka” stands for a lot of things, by the way. Sigh. But they did have a link back to Wikipedia Called “Detailed logarithmic timeline“. Jackpot. Wow. Just what I was looking for! But still no answer to the shorthand. Returned to the fossil page and realized the “ka” for the first time used was a link. Duh. Which led me to a section of the “Year” page called “SI Prefix multipliers (yeah, toasted a few brain cells on that alone).

[for the curious, ka is thousand, Ma is million, Ga is billion, and etc is et cetera]

The “Detailed logarithmic timeline” page is part of a main article, “Logarithmic Timeline“. That one branches out from there. It’s resource has a link to an archived graphic of “Four Thousand Years of World History” made in 1931 (history of it from original Slate article). Oh, and it is 5′ tall. Yeah, it only goes back to 2000 BC but it is still awesome to view.

I remember as a kid the first time I realized Jesus was not locked into his own universe. There were other things happening in the world at the same time. It was a pivotal moment in my life when I saw a similar timeline graphic. It removed the religious magic from him, almost as if I considered him to be…not real? Like, I knew Santa Claus wasn’t real but was based on a real person a long time ago and resembled nothing what we in the US see now. And I kinda saw Jesus as the same thing. Real but not…touchable? Linked to anything else other than that big huge book on the coffee table? But seeing that timeline graphic when I was a kid? Boom. It made me realize Jesus was indeed real. He pooped his diapers (something my Sunday School teacher was not pleased for me to say aloud). He stubbed his toe. He was overall a real person. And now he’s Santa Claus.

I wandered again. That Histomap led me to others: Histomap of Religion and the Histomap of Evolution. Do a Google search for “Histomap” and have fun!

Anyway, the “Detailed logarithmic timeline” was what I was looking for. Mostly. It is a great jumping point at the least, right?

Romance, Sigh

I find writing in the romance genre to be difficult. It shouldn’t be because it follows a “formula”. They meet; there’s a misunderstanding/issue/someone else/whatever that gets in the way; they work it out; something else happens; they profess their undying love and live Happily Ever After. Why do I find that so boring to write? I enjoy reading it! I enjoy the feel good I get from reading it. But when I write it, my characters feel…flat. Boring. There’s no aliens or colony ship or dragons or whatever. There’s “just” two people trying to get together.

I would like to get a Butch Girl book out. Why? Because they sell. Romance books sells like funnel cakes at a carnival. Science Fiction? Sells like candy apples. Sure, people like ’em and they look fondly at them but, really, you have to really love them to actually buy (and bite) it.

So I got Nikki (from BGCFA) and I got Ellen. Two lesbians who meet and want to get together. Kinda. They’ve got some obstacles to climb first. Some differences to either settle or decide to live with. Without alien interference. Or colony ship to stock. Or evil enemies to conquer. Just, you know, Real Life Issues.

So stay tuned for updates as I write this book! I need a timeline. It’s June…Let me say I want this done by the end of August? I’ve got a chunk of it done already. Yeah, written by the end of August. I can do this! Yeah!

Back It Up!

I am a big proponent of doing backups. My WIP files are in 3 places.

– WIP folder on my desktop
– to cloud (DreamCloud w/ DreamHost)
– USB key here at my desk

LibreOffice is set to do an autosave every X minutes as well as save the document as a .bak file whenever a save is done.

The cloud version backed up weekly.

The USB key is mirrored every morning.

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Research Research Research

You can never research too much. Well, not really.

You can get lost in YouTube Hell: going in for videos on sword work and realizing you’ve migrated to watching kittens dancing to Timberlake.

You can start reading articles on sword work in Wikipedia and realize you’re now reading an article on nuclear fission (true story).

But in terms of backstory (stuff you will probably never use), you can never research too much. Know your subject matter. Know the character. Know the setting. You don’t need a degree in something in order to write a believable character. You just need to know enough to write about it. Your comfort level included. For example, I will never be comfortable enough to write a character who is into math. I know this. I can research all I want and it will never take.

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Mindmapping

I was going to write another article of mindmapping resources but meh, too much work. But here’s the short of it:

I’ve demoed a LOT of mindmap programs and some are super simple to the point of being painful and others are super shiny to the point of being ghastly expensive. I’ll put linkages at the bottom of this. Currently, I have a subscription for Novamind (which I will cancel) and I have a paid version of SimpleMind (which I will keep). But what I am falling in love with and wish I could justify the cost of is TheBrain. So very, very shiny.

I’ve cleaned up my Writing Brain and will share the link to it. The software syncs between the desktop, the app, and the web version. You can mark the entire brain as ‘private’ which means no one but you and whoever you choose has access to it. You can mark the entire brain as ‘public’ which means anyone with the URL can access it. And you can mark certain parts of the brain as private and other parts public. Which is what I have done with my Writing Brain.

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Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

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Resources for Writers

I mentioned in the last post that I use WordWeb for my thesaurus. I like it for its simplicity and for the ability to access other sources. I have found over the years that there are good resources and there are not so good ones.

Some may not like Wikipedia due to its open edit vulnerability. And I say if you are going to depend on one resource for your research, then you are doing it wrong. Wikipedia is a vast resource and the ideal place to start. Their links at the bottom (see also, references, further reading, and/or external links), are the next step. Wikipedia is just one part of a wonderful organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. From images to quotes to even a species directory, Wikimedia Foundation provides a vast resource of information to get lost in.

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