Halloween Costumes (Thanks To Photo Manipulation)

31 Days Of Halloween - Featured Image - Halloween Costumes (Thanks To Photo Manipulation)

In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to try out a few costumes.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the wardrobe space to hang all the ones I wanted. So, instead I tried on a few courtesy of PhotoFunia and their wonderful filters and templates.

A lot depends on the quality of the image you upload, but here are some of my favorite attempts.

Share Your Favorite Costumes

I love to see how creative people can get with costumes. Feel free to share links to your favorite costumes in the comments.

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Unbelievable! – My Pinterest Followers Are 1500 Strong And Growing – Discover Why!

Unbelievable - My Pinterest Followers Are 1500 Strong And Growing - Discover WhyI’ve been running my Pinterest account for quite a while now, and I just passed 1,500 amazing followers. Here’s some quick stats on the site, before I give you a peak at what those followers are seeing…

  • 59 Boards, including writing advice, story prompts, wildlife pictures, codes, magic, quotes, writing research topics, my latest blog posts, and more
  • 187,300+ Monthly views, which if you consider things is a huge number for a small-time Pinterest user.
  • 28,100+ Individual pins
  • And now 1,500+ devoted followers, and growing by the day.

Here’s a sample of my top boards.

  • Birds of Prey (5,143+ pins, with 6 topics) – For those who know how much I love falconry, and getting up close with raptors, or love these amazing creatures themselves.
  • Writing Prompts (6,219+ pins) – Looking for a story starter, or something to kick-start a scene? This is where you want to be looking.
  • Big Cats (1,400+ pins, still being sorted into topics) – Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cougars… If they’re larger than a house cat, they’re here…
  • Bullet Journalling (1,910+ pins, with a whopping 29 topics) – If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen how I use my Bullet Journal to stay organized. This board covers everything from starting your own bullet journal to hacks that can help you really personalize it.
  • Character Creation (1,140+ pins, still being sorted into topics) – This covers character building, character descriptions, fashion notes, and even a collection of character ideas.

Readers Might Enjoy These Boards:

Fellow Writers Might Enjoy These Ones:

Not only will you learn something about me personally, but you’ll be getting an insight into the kinds of research that I do for my stories… Who knows, you might just find clues to an upcoming plotline…

Check out my Pinterest Boards Today!

Author Spotlight – Lori Drake

Introducing Lori Drake

Lori Drake writes from her home office and assorted coffee shops around Austin, Texas. When not busily writing or editing, she enjoys reading, video gaming, fiber arts, and playing with kittens. These are all mutually exclusive activities, no matter what the kittens would have you believe.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’m a red-headed scorpio, so my mom had her hands full when I was a kid. Writing has always been a part of my life, though I went long periods where I didn’t write anything. I wrote my first novel in 2008, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and edit it for publication, but I’m still rather fond of the story.

I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and two full grown cats that we still think of as kittens. My husband calls them “kittens-not-kittens.”

I have no children, so my books are my legacy. Think about that the next time you dog-ear a page. Just kidding! Buy the books, and do whatever you want with them. But definitely read them. I do recommend that.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

I just released the third book in my Grant Wolves series, Grave Threat. It’s my favorite of the series so far, and it really challenges Joey–the female protagonist–to step up to the plate while her Alpha is out of commission. Joey is such an interesting character. She’s not your average smart-mouthed urban fantasy heroine. She has a lot of attitude, but she’s still figuring out how to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. In book one, we found out that she was sheltered for most of her life, not even trained in fighting the way her older siblings were. Since then, she’s grown into an “heir apparent” role, but she’s never been truly tested until now. It’s a trial by fire, and she learns a lot of lessons about how hard it is to make those tough calls she’s always been so quick to criticize in the past.

Who is your intended readership?

My readers are those misfits that love a good werewolf story that doesn’t revolve around an alpha looking for a mate. They don’t mind profanity, and enjoy a diverse cast of characters. (While my protagonists are straight–as far as I know, anyway–there are gay & bi supporting characters.)

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’m not sure! It was never a big dream of mine. Writing was always something I enjoyed doing, but I wasn’t able to see myself doing it professionally for a long time. I always worried that if I did it for a job, I wouldn’t love it as much. It wasn’t until 2017, when I was preparing to launch my first book, that I thought, “You know what? I can do this.” I haven’t looked back.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

Music inspires me. I’m always listening to music while I write, and I make playlists for all of my books while I’m writing them. I fill them with songs that remind me of characters, scenes, or themes from the book. Once the book is released, I like to share those playlists in my newsletter. I like the idea of people listening to them while they read.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Don’t be afraid to share your work with someone. Write in a vacuum, but don’t edit in one. My writing grew in leaps and bounds when I joined a critique group, and it also helped to boost my confidence.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

My best friend is terrified of werewolves. Seriously, she won’t read books about them or watch movies featuring them because the whole messy in-between of bones cracking and human faces growing snouts just wigs her the hell out. I purposefully designed my werewolves as creatures whose transformation was magical rather than physical. There are no snapping bones, contortions, or half-man, half-wolf forms. The air shimmers, and poof! That human is now a wolf. Finally, a werewolf story she can handle.

I dedicated my first book to her. She cried when she found out.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

Hm, what to mention that isn’t in my bio… tea! I love tea, especially loose leaf tea. The coffee shop where I frequently write won me over with their wide assortment of loose leaf teas. I prefer black over herbal, and nothing too fruity.

I’m also a bit of a weather geek. I took a few meteorology classes in college and I find it completely fascinating. I’d like to go storm chasing one day, and I don’t care what anyone says… Twister is a great movie. (Rabbit is good, Rabbit is wise.)

I also volunteer with my local animal shelter as a foster mom during kitten season, because KITTENS. Need I say more?

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

Okay, just between you and me… I’m currently working on a spin-off featuring a popular side character from the Grant Wolves series. The only hint I will give is: He’s not a wolf.

I guess that was two hints.

Grave Threat

Mind control is a terrible thing to waste.

Joey and Chris are finally settling into something remotely resembling normal in their new hometown. It’s great, aside from being in separate packs.

But when Joey’s Alpha is kidnapped, it’s all wolves on deck, and what begins as a ride to the rescue devolves into the road trip from hell. The situation only gets worse when Chris, too, is taken.

Now Joey is left seeking allies in unfamiliar territory while the captives fight for their free will as well as their freedom. Can Joey reclaim her loved ones before they’re lost to her forever?

Grave Threat is the action-packed third installment of the gripping Grant Wolves series. If you like strong women, powerful magic, high stakes, and underdog tales, this is the book for you!

Buy Now: Paperback, E-Book

Author Pages:

Amazon

Where to find Lori Drake:

Website (Lori Drake’s Website), Twitter, Facebook

Subscribers to Lori’s newsletter receive exclusive sneak peeks, playlists, free books, release dates, and other insider info.

Celebrating 1000+ Pinterest Followers

What You'll Find In My Pinterest FeedIn November, I posted that my Pinterest account had passed 500 followers, and in just three months, that number has doubled.

Even more stunning is that Pinterest reports that I’m getting over 212,900 views EVERY MONTH!

I’ll admit, I’m stunned at how rapidly my following has increased. It’s something I love doing every day, but I don’t always give a lot of thought to what I’m pinning.

I pin an item if:

  1. If it looks interesting,
  2. I want to follow up on it
  3. I think my followers might find it interesting
  4. There are potential stories behind the item

I’ve now got 55 boards, covering everything from topics I’m researching for my stories, to my personal interests. I’ve even started to split some of those boards down into topics, so don’t be surprised when you find my “Character Creation” board has a “Character Bank” topic (where I pin ideas/images that might become characters at some point).

With over 24,100 individual pins my followers can find everything from writing advice to writing prompts; from images of Seattle and the surrounding area to owls and wolves; from different kinds of magic to codes and languages.

You’ll even find a lot of my blog post images on there too, with links back to the original posts.

Here’s a sample of my top boards.

  • Birds of Prey (4,470+ pins) – For those who know how much I love falconry, and getting up close with raptors, or love these amazing creatures themselves.
  • Writing Prompts (5,470+ pins) – Looking for a story starter, or something to kick-start a scene? This is where you want to be looking.
  • English Language (640+ pins) – Everything from spelling and grammar through to sayings and alternative words.
  • Big Cats (1,120+ pins) – Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cougars… If they’re larger than a house cat, they’re here…
  • Bullet Journalling (1,570+ pins) – If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen how I use my Bullet Journal to stay organized. This board covers everything from starting your own bullet journal to hacks that can help you really personalize it.
  • Character Naming (170+ pins) – This covers everything from explanations behind people’s names to what names were popular in given years.
  • Story Inspirations – Fantasy Art (990+ pins) – They say “a picture paints a thousand words”, and some of the images pinned to this board could inspire even more.
  • Wolves (660+ pins) – Getting up close to wolves was an experience I’ll never forget. And as a writer who loves wolf-shifters, I’d be remiss in not giving these glorious creatures their own board.
  • Creatures (200+ pins) – Creatures urban myth through to ancient gods and legendary beasts.
  • All Things Writing (970+ pins) -Yeah, actually not sure how I ended up with multiple boards for writing tips…

 

Not only will you learn something about me personally, but you’ll be getting an insight into the kinds of research that I do for my stories… Who knows, you might just find clues to an upcoming plotline…

Check out my Pinterest Boards Today!

A Walk-Through For Setting Up A 2018 Bullet Journal

 Having used the Bullet Journal (BuJo) system since the start of 2017, I’ve learned a few things about what worked for me, and what didn’t.

I also wanted to use the opportunity of starting a new journal to setup some page formats. For that purpose I went and purchases some stencils, which would allow me to create some amazing looking pages (hopefully).

Below are some of the thoughts that went into creating my 2018 Bullet Journal. For a better view of some of these pages, check out my “My 2018 Bullet Journal” board on Pinterest. (Clicking some of the images will take you to the relevant sections

I’ve seen a number of different keys in the last year, since I started using the Bullet Journal system.

Since I was starting a new journal, for a new year, I decided to take a look at some of the things that worked for me over the last twelve months.

  • Switching from filling boxes completely to indicate a completed task allowed me to include an ‘in-progress’ status.
  • Having icons for Email, Calls, and other location/device specific task made it easier for me to prioritize my workload based on where I was at the time (a trick I learned from ‘Get Things Done’).
  • I also decided to use these as tag for tasks, events and appointments, so that I could differentiate them.

The Index is your reference guide to the contents of your Bullet Journal. Because the Bullet Journal system allows you to add topics (also called collections) at any time, you need an index to help you find every page that forms part of that topic.

  • When creating a new topic/collection/calendar page/etc you just add the page title and page number to your index.
  • Anytime you add a page that is relevant to a topic, you just add the page numbers to your index.

The Future Log is where you focus on the year ahead, without worrying about the minutia of everyday events.

That means you don’t need a vast amount of space, because all you’re recording is key events which you are booking ahead of time.

I needed something quick and simple for this particular section of my Bullet Journal.

  • I went online and purchased stickers for the date labels (which I DID have to trim a little for this purpose).
  • Those labels make it easy to get a glance of the weekly breakdown.
  • The box under each label is used to note down the important birthdays for that month.
  • The remaining space is used to log events, appointments and tasks that are happening on days, weeks and months ahead.
  • When the time is right, you copy the item to the relevant Monthly Overview, and from there into the Weekly Overview and daily list.

This is where you move down to the monthly level, and get an overview of what’s happening over those few weeks.

  • I included an events and task list, as well as a section for events/tasks that need to be moved/added to the following week.
  • I left just enough space in the boxes for each day to make very basic notes.
  • At the bottom you’ll notice some other boxes I added for my book reading and review lists, as well as my Pinterest tracker, and the live dates of my weekly blog posts.

Here’s your chance to get an overview of the week ahead, and what tasks, and events you have coming up in the days ahead. (Spot the note scribbled in the top margin, regarding my apparent inability to spell DECEMBER).

  • This is pretty much the exact same weekly layout I’ve been using for almost six months.
  • The left-hand page tracks my works schedule, home/personal schedule, my blog schedule, writing/editing plans, and promotions.
  • I left these pages almost exactly the same as they were in my 2017 journal. All I did was move the habit trackers to the bottom of the page.

Since this is the start of the journal, there’s nothing to actually see, yet…

But I decided I wanted to add a little bit of interest to my daily lists. Banner images are something I experimented with during November and December, as I tried to decide on a format.

Then the stencils arrived, and I was able to combine the number and letter stencils with shapes to create something simple. I’m rather pleased with the result.

I’m an avid reader, as reviewer, who sometimes volunteers to pick up Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs). ARCs allow reviewers a chance to get their hands on books, before the general public, in return for an honest review.

Because my reading plans were very disjointed in 2017, I wasn’t always able to get to ARCs before the book released. So these pages will give me a chance to split my regular reading from my ARC promises.

This is another of those wonderful concepts that I’m using to try and be better prepared for movie releases.

Last year I missed a lot of movies at the cinema because of issues with work scheduling and finances. Hopefully by having the dates logged, I’ll be able to request days off for movies I really want to watch, before it’s too late to see them.

I’ll also use this to track movies and TV series that my wife and I want to purchase.

Journal:

Pens:

Stickers:

Stencils:

If you’d like to know more about how I designed and created these pages, let me know in the comments.

500+ Followers On Pinterest – Find out why!

A couple of months ago, I posted about my Pinterest account hitting 300 followers. That was mid-September. Now, just two months later, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve hit over 500 followers.

I’ve now got 51 boards, covering everything from topics I’m researching for my stories, to my personal interests. My followers can find everything from writing advice to writing prompts; from images of Seattle and the surrounding area to owls and wolves; from different kinds of magic to codes and languages.

You’ll even find a lot of my blog post images on there too, with links back to the original posts.

Since a lot of people who follow me here might not be aware of my Pinterest account, here’s a few of the things you can discover there.

  • Birds of Prey (4,000+ pins) – For those who know how much I love falconry, and getting up close with raptors, or love these amazing creatures themselves.
  • Writing Prompts (5,000+ pins) – Looking for a story starter, or something to kick-start a scene? This is where you want to be looking.
  • English Language (460+ pins) – Everything from spelling and grammar through to sayings and alternative words.
  • Big Cats (790+ pins) – Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cougars… If they’re larger than a house cat, they’re here…
  • Bullet Journalling (680+ pins) – If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen how I use my Bullet Journal to stay organized. This board covers everything from starting your own bullet journal to hacks that can help you really personalize it.
  • Character Naming (170+ pins) – This covers everything from explanations behind people’s names to what names were popular in given years.
  • Story Inspirations – Fantasy Art (960+ pins) – They say “a picture paints a thousand words”, and some of the images pinned to this board could inspire even more.
  • Wolves (520+ pins) – Getting up close to wolves was an experience I’ll never forget. And as a writer who loves wolf-shifters, I’d be remiss in not giving these glorious creatures their own board.
  • Creatures (190+ pins) – Creatures urban myth through to ancient gods and legendary beasts.
  • All Things Writing (960+ pins) -Yeah, actually not sure how I ended up with multiple boards for writing tips…

Pinterest just added a new feature, which I’m very excited to try out.

Instead of just adding pins to particular boards and watching it all pile up into a disorganized mess, you can now organize things a little more.

The answer is sub-boards, and over I’m going to be using this new feature pretty extensively over the coming months. I really want to give my followers the best chance of finding the pins that best suit their pinning habits, and that starts by being able to find them again whenever I want to.

So, keep your eyes on my boards, because they’re going to become better organized, as time allows. But that means I also have to go back through 20,000 pins to figure out what I need to move into sub-boards.

Not only will you learn something about me personally, but you’ll be getting an insight into the kinds of research that I do for my stories… Who knows, you might just find clues to an upcoming plotline…

Check out my Pinterest Boards Today!

“Asteroids In Film & Fiction” – by Timothy Bateson

If you’ve been watching the news over the last few days, you might have come across an event that is happening tonight. Asteroid 2012 TC4 will be giving us a stunning close-quarters flyby on October 12th 2017. In fact, there is a small chance that this city-block sized object will be passing inside the orbit of the geostationary satellites.

NASA and several other agencies are taking the opportunity to track and characterize the object, as a way to test our preparedness for potential Earth impacts.

Looking Back Over The Years

In light of this event, I thought I’d have a look at how asteroids and meteors have impacted film and fiction throughout the years. Given how many stories have been created over the years, I’m not even going to try and address every story that has featured asteroids and meteors. Instead, I’m going to try and bring attention to some of the stories that people might not have heard of, or underestimated.

Early Stories:

Jules & Michel Verne wrote “The Chase of the Golden Meteor” in 1908, and told the tale of two astronomers who discovered a new asteroid. Over the course of the story we discover that they have in fact discovered a solid gold object destined to crash to earth and potentially destabilize the international economy.

“Our Distant Cousins” (1929) by Lord Dunsany follows the story of an aviator attempting to fly to Mars, but ending up on Eros by mistake.

In 1939 Issac Asimov joined the list of people writing about the asteroids, when the survivors of a wreck are stranded in orbit around Vesta, in “Marooned off Vesta”.

In “The Little Prince” (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the title character lives on an asteroid named “B-612”, and travels between other asteroids, with their own inhabitants.

What makes some of these stories interesting is the assumption that it is possible to travel to other planets, or even explore the asteroids, in a time when scientists were just figuring out how to shoot rockets over long distances.

More Recent Stories:

With the advent of rocketry, and the start of the space race, it’s no wonder that more and more stories about the asteroids came from the years after the Second World War.

In 1951, John Wyndham wrote “The Day of the Triffids”, where the light of a meteor shower blinds the entire population of Earth, except for a handful of lucky people. What makes this story so interesting is that it has a very emotional opening, but the creatures that we’re supposed to be terrified of somehow fail to create a viable threat. Yet it can’t be denied that elements of this story turn up in films like “28 Days Later” and “Maximum Overdrive”

“Explorers on the Moon” was a 1952 story in Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin”, that took his characters into space. As they are approaching the moon they come perilously close to an asteroid and Captain Haddock has to be rescued during a spacewalk.

“Rendevous With Rama” (1972) by Arthur C Clarke tells about the aftereffects of an asteroid impact in northern Italy. The main characters are part of an asteroid defense force, an idea that keeps coming around despite the potential costs and logistics involved in creating such a defense.

“Meteor” (1979) is a precursor to “Armageddon”, which explores that happens when a collision with a comet knocks a chunk of asteroid “Orpheus” earthward. One thing that makes this movie interesting is that it was inspired by an MIT report called Project Icarus which presented a plan for preventing a potential catastrophic meteor impact. But it also explores some of the international politics that would be required to enable the necessary cooperation between nations.

In the movie “Deep Impact” (based on Arthur C Clarke’s “The Hammer of God”) the meteor is turned into a comet, and the attempt to deflect the incoming asteroid fails.

So, Where Does All This Leave Us?

Asteroids, meteors, meteorites and comets can all potentially wipe out civilization as we know it. But several steps have been outlined that could help us avoid an impact event.

  1. Detection – Discovering as many potential Earth impacting objects as possible. They key here is not just finding these threats, but doing as far ahead of the impact as possible. Even a very close miss can do severe damage if the object is large enough.
  2. Categorization – Besides being able to find and track incoming objects, we need as much information as possible about what they’re made of, and how they’re constructed. If we have any hope of being able to destroy, or deflect an Earth-bound object, we have to be able to model it’s range of potential behaviors.
  3. Impact Probablity Calculation – The better we are able to detect and track meteors, asteroids and other objects in space, the more chance there is that we can determine if it really represents an impact threat, or will by-pass us, just as 2012 TC4 will.
  4. Deflection – This is really only an option if an impact is predicted early enough. The process involves changing the trajectory of the incoming object away from Earth orbit. Options have included:
    1. Detonating a nuclear device in, or on the object risks destroying loosely held together objects, but potentially creates a large push through the vaporization of rock creating a rocket exhaust effect.
    2. Stand-off Detonation involves detonating multiple devices close to the asteroid surface providing a more gradual push and reducing the risk of fragmenting the object.
    3. Ramming the object with another object is known as the kinetic impact approach, but would require hitting the asteroid with sufficient mass and momentum to deflect it.
    4. Gravitational mass attraction involves moving a steerable object close enough to the asteroid to cause gravitational attraction between the two masses. While the smaller mass might be attracted toward the incoming object, the attraction works both ways. However, this is a very slow approach and would take longer than many other options.
  5. Destruction – Blowing the incoming object into as many pieces as possible. This option presents two possible outcomes, depending on the distance from Earth when the destruction of the object occurs:
    1. If the object is too close, the chances are that instead of creating a single large impact, the incoming object would now be fragmented in such a way as to create multiple smaller impacts. While this might avoid an extinction level event, it would still do significant damage.
    2. If the object is far enough away, it would just give us even more objects to track and characterize for future possible impacts.

In the end it is unlikely that we will ever be able to detect 100% of the potential threat. We might never see the rock that wipes us out. But then again, that time may be a long time off. I guess we’re going to have to take our chances…

So What Do You Think?

Are we going to be hit by ‘the big one’ any time soon?

Are there any films you think I should have included in my list?

Have I missed something on the science, or did I get something wrong with my limited understanding?

Comment below, and let’s make sure 2012 TC4 knows we’re thinking about it…

Related Links:

AstroWatch.Net

ScienceBlog.Com

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

List of asteroid close approaches to Earth

Asteroids In Fiction (Revolvy.Com)

10 deadly comets, asteroids and meteorites in the movies (Den Of Geek.Com)

Asteroids in fiction (Wikipedia)

Asteroid Impact Avoidance