Posts Tagged ‘Hubble’

Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon, and despite Nasa saying there’s nothing to worry about, it has caused some consternation…

Which takes me to this rather fabulous image:

The Moon

Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Garvin (NASA/GSFC)

This picture is from Hubblesite and is the landing site of Apollo 17, back in 1972.

It also looks, quite literally, like a man in the moon.  He has a severe forehead, with a distinctive browbone.  There is an open eye looking at me from a sunken, shadowy socket.  A nose, broken, with a high bridge.  A mouth frozen at the point of saying something.

I don’t believe in apocalyptic prophecies, as such: I don’t deny the possibility that one may one day be proved true, but I don’t change my life to account for them and I don’t stock up on canned goods and bottles of water just in case.

But sometimes, I look up and I see a face in the moon. And I understand how so many cultures could have seen that, and believed there was someone up there.

So I appreciate why people see portents in the strange and unusual.  Personally  I see these things as quirks of nature that we interpret in our own strange and unusual ways, but people historically invested these quirks with a great deal more meaning, simply so they could be understood.

And that suggests not only that humans have striven to understand the world for a very, very long time – but also that we’ve been a creative and imaginative species for all that time too.

So rather than worry about what the Blood Moon will bring, I’m going to enjoy the fact that tonight the man in the moon will be looking out on a whole load of upturned faces.  Who knows what stories he will imagine of us…

Happy writing,





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I’ve said that I love space enough times that to share another photo of something cosmic won’t be too much of a surprise!


hs-2014-18-a-webThis picture is from the Hubblesite website (always worth a visit) and shows an area of space where stars are being born. What is now a gassy, dusty nebula will one day be gone, the materials used to form those stars – and possibly companion planets.  In this mass, perhaps there’s a new Earth waiting to be shaped.

For me, this image is all about scope – the vast possibilities, the innumerable ideas, the expanse of our imaginations.

I remember being told that  there’s really only a handful of stories ever told, but what writers do is find new ways to tell them.  I’m not sure if  I agree there’s only a handful but I certainly think we as writers should find new ways of exploring life, humanity, the nature of existence.

That doesn’t have to be a heavy burden though.  In the picture you can see the darkness and the light, and it’s the same in writing. You can write about horror, or you can write about hope.  You can write about love, or hate.

Most writers fall somewhere on the spectrum, because most of life is somewhere on the spectrum.  But even with this you can vary the surroundings; for example you can create an alternative world, or move back or forward in time.

That’s the joy and fun of writing, for me – however many stories there may be, we’ll never run out of ways to tell them.

Happy writing,






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Very happily, the computer repair experts have been able to salvage my work from the sadly broken laptop, and although the hardware is beyond saving, the data seems to be intact. Yippee!

Because of this, I’m spending some time catching up and checking through to make sure there are no corruptions and so on.  As a result, this post is not what I had planned, but is based on something I read today.

This week’s inspiration comes from a news article on my favourite space website – hubblesite.org – where they have announced the discovery of a planet under construction.

Immediately, I wondered what the new planet would look like, when it would be formed, if we humans would ever visit it.  It’s the start of a sci-fi novel, being built 176 million light years away.

As a writer, what I’m really interested in is characters – and alien ones are especially intriguing.  To test myself a little bit, I started designing a life-form.  Not the personalities – they come later – but the physical appearance.  It’s actually quite liberating not to write about human faces, but to think about different features.  A few questions emerged:

Are they humanoid?

Do they have skin, or scales, or feathers?

Are they carbon-based?

Do they have eyes, noses, mouths, ears?  Limbs?

Are they intelligent?

I came to an early conclusion that a story with a non-sentient, vegetation-type alien would be less than thrilling, so I stuck with intelligent, upright and slightly scaly.  Then I made decisions based on the position of the planet and the requirements for life – and how they would have access to these requirements.

All in all, I drew up a very clear picture, and the scope of the descriptive decisions I made got me thinking about the choices I make in my novels.  When I start re-reviewing novel two, I’m going to focus on some of the elements I’ve picked up on through this exercise, particularly around colour and texture.

It was actually a very useful exercise and one that bears repeating: thinking about everything I’d need to consider and understand to write a realistic alien made me realise how easy these things are to miss in more terrestrial characters…

Give it a go if you’re struggling with descriptions, it’s a good way to open yourself to more unusual ideas!

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I haven’t forgotten the poem from my ‘pick a name’ post, and will get back to that when I’ve checked all my data still exists 🙂

Happy writing



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Today I am heading off for my spa and have packed a book of images taken by the Hubble Telescope.  With these, and a notebook, I will be able to map out two or three poems over the course of the weekend.

I haven’t decided yet whether they will all be specific to a certain thing, like an ode to Orion, or a sonnet to Saturn, or if I’ll work more generically.  My first space-related piece was about a galaxy, but underlying the piece was a contemplation of mortality and that’s not something I intend to revisit.  Perhaps I will write a companion piece about birth…  I will decide as the images take me; it’s hard to know with poetry sometimes, I think I’m going in one direction and as the work develops it becomes something entirely different!

I also think it will be good to step away from the novel planning.  The more I reflect on the plan I have, the more I wonder if perhaps splitting the two ideas off was a mistake, or at least if I need to add more context to the experiences and background of the characters so the reader can see links from the beginning.  I want to make sure that the planning is right this time round, and am prepared to look again from the start if necessary.  I need the break to see it more objectively.

It’s quite frustrating but I guess that’s the nature of planning, and I’d far rather sort it out now than halfway through November!

Tomorrow I won’t have access to update a post so am going to write a general post and will be properly back on Sunday.

Happy writing,



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Yes – with a whole 10 minutes left until midnight on 31 August, I completed my read-through – phew!  I have a couple of elements to check for continuity and to give a bit of a signpost for new content that came from the additional sections, but that should only take about one hour so I’m pretty happy with that.

The bit I’m less happy with is the ending.  I’ve talked about openings to stories before, but now it’s time to think about closings.  I want a last paragraph that encapsulates where the narrating character is in relation to where she was at the start, without making it too obvious.  I have often found it difficult to finish stories, preferring the openness of a view into the future than being too explicit – leaving characters at the start of a new story, as much as at the end of the one I am telling.  It then gives the reader a chance to think about where they would like to see the character as well as giving the sense that their story exists outside of the writing.

At the moment, the story ends with a short piece of dialogue then a description, but I dislike the used of dialogue at the end of books and think it’s a little too predictable, so that is something I will continue to think about.

I also think, having added the new sections, that I will dispose of the prologue, but I’ll read it all through as a whole before I make a final decision…

As ever, in the eternal balance of the writing world, one successful outcome means that somewhere in the world there is a less successful outcome.  That, sadly, is my submission.  I have put the one I started to one side, looked at some old notes, scrapped them and started again.  This is not coming as easily as I would like, and I have to really push on with it – unfortunately, I am supposed to be having this week and next week off – but that’s writing for you!  At least I can fit it in around other things.

In other news – I read this week that it’s 200 years since the publication of the Grimm Fairy Tales.  As a child I was given ‘The Complete Illustrated Works of the Brothers Grimm’, a book I still have.  It is an amazing feat for their work to still engage people today, either through films, books or plays.  I wonder if my love of fairy tales, folk tales and folklore (and related areas such as mythology, imagery, ritual, superstition etc) comes from access to stories like these when I was young.

Also this week – Having talked about the brilliant HubbleSite in the last post I found myself watching a couple of documentaries about space this weekend – and this has really spurred me on to start working on a project that I have wanted to undertake for some time: a set of poems about space.  This all started with an assignment about love; of a non-romantic type – I chose to write about the Whirlpool Galaxy.  After that, I wrote a few notes and watched some programmes outlining different galactic events, celestial bodies and doomsday type scenarios.

After this holiday I would like to dust these things off and really get to grips with the project.  So I will use October as project month, and would love it if some of you guys would join me – giving a little time each day to something we really want to do, but never prioritise.  It could be creative or practical but whatever it is, we’ll all try to do a bit each day.  At the end of the month we win a sense of achievement!  Anyone want to have a go?

Now, submission work notwithstanding, I am on holiday for the next two weeks – I don’t know if I’ll be able to post blogs, and for one week I don’t know if I’ll even have internet (the horror!) so please bear with me if I’m not about.  I promise I’ll be doing something creative, some of the time…!

Happy writing,



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Because I am still spending most of my time on the novel, this week’s post is really just a few links and ideas as to places to go for inspiration…

I’ll start with a sporting theme – the Paralympics.  As you know from my previous posts, the Olympic spirit has really lifted me this summer, and I am hoping that this buzz continues through the Paralympics too – I am lucky enough to have tickets to an event so am really looking forward to that!  I love the advert for this (which hopefully you can watch here even if not in the UK) – and every time it comes on I dance a little…

If you get a chance, find out about the journey some of these athletes have been through – they really are inspirational, in the truest sense of the word.  There’s a link to Team GB here, as a starting point.

The second is a writing theme, as there had to be one!  In particular, I wanted to point out Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise‘ (you can check out other poems on poemhunter too).  This is a poem I am drawn back to time and time again: every time I read it I feel the power of it.  It makes me feel like I can do anything – and surely that’s what inspiration is all about!

Again, if you don’t know much about Maya Angelou, a quick internet search will tell you about her life, which will give you some context for the poem – but I hope the power of the poem reaches you regardless!

The third is the British Museum – I used this site a lot when I was studying Prehistoric Rituals and when I studied Old English (random mix but excellent courses!), and I fell in love with seeing the artefacts.  Sometimes in a museum you skirt past a display for all sorts of reasons – time, crowds, lethargy! – but this allows you to really look at a piece.

This is also great if you don’t know what to write about – just pick an image and see where it takes you – freewrite, or make notes, or whatever works for you!

The fourth, and one of the sites I go back to time after time, is HubbleSite.  I love space, have written poems about space, and secretly want Star Trek to be real…  Ok, maybe not the last, but I find the gallery of images here awe-inspiring.

There’s something for everyone here I hope – look at the gallery and see what you think!

I’ll add more in the future but this is a good start!  Sorry this post is a bit short but if I want to get back on track and finish this read-through by the end of tomorrow, I have to get on with it!

Please feel free to post links to any sites you find inspirational, hopefully between us all we’ll find a way to beat any creative block…

Happy writing,



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