Magpie Monday

Black-Billed Magpie , Bella Vista Road, Vernon, British Columbia | Copyright © 2011 Alan D. Wilson | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

All that was bright and shiny in my eye last week….

*I’ll have a full slate of posts again this week, so check back tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for more tantalizing tidbits.


Looking for a good read? Why not check out my friend Paula Treick DeBoard‘s debut novel, The Mourning Hours? Here’s the official description:

Kirsten Hammarstrom hasn’t been home to her tiny corner of rural Wisconsin in years-not since the mysterious disappear- ance of a local teenage girl rocked the town and shattered her family. Kirsten was just nine years old when Stacy Lemke went missing, and the last person to see her alive was her boyfriend, Johnny—the high school wrestling star and Kirsten’s older brother. No one knows what to believe—not even those closest to Johnny—but the event unhinges the quiet farming community and pins Kirsten’s family beneath the crushing weight of suspicion.

Now, years later, a new tragedy forces Kirsten and her siblings to return home, where they must confront the devastating event that shifted the trajectory of their lives. Tautly written and beautifully evocative, The Mourning Hours is a gripping portrayal of a family straining against extraordinary pressure, and a powerful tale of loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness.

And check out this gorgeous cover: fireflies! Lightning bugs! Happiness!

While you’re waiting, your ocular nerves can sate some hunger with these tender morsels:

From Daily Science Fiction: The Silver Witch by Tara Calaby (suggested for Heiresses of Russ, Steve?); Holy Diver by Grá Linnaea; Big Bad’s Hot Date by Melissa Mead; and While Memory Holds a Seat by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

From Marissa Meyer: chapter one of her new novel Cress, third in The Lunar Chronicles (via).

From Night Pilgrims (excerpt) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

From io9: The Age of Ice (excerpt) by J.M. Sidorova.

From Boing Boing: The Social Services by Madeline Ashby.

From Letters of Note: Let Us Blaze New Trails by Bill Bernbach (described as “one of the original Mad Men. A real-life Don Draper.”); A Squeal of Pain by Vita Sackville-West.

Flax-golden tales: Not How Love Works by Erin Morgenstern.

Jackie O. reads via Awesome People Reading

Radio Free Other has some thoughts on Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane—yes and yes. I think Ocean might be my most favorite of Gaiman’s novels.

Bardtastic! Or possibly not. Random House’s Hogarth imprint is going to release a series of prose novels modernizing Shakespeare’s plays. Only the first two authors have been named: Jeanette Winterson will take on The Winter’s Tale and Anne Tyler will tame The Taming of the Shrew. From The Guardian:

“All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around,” said Winterson. “I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right. And I love cover versions.”


The wedding photos of 16 famous authors in love.

Virginia and Leonard Woolf on their wedding day, August 1912

Richard Lee Byers on what he learned scripting his first graphic novel (via Michael L. Joy on Facebook).

Chuck Wendig has 50 rantypants snidbits of random writing & storytelling advice for you.

Robin Mizell: The more an aspiring author knows….

Neil Gaiman on escapism:

People talk about escapism as if it’s a bad thing … Once you’ve escaped, once you come back, the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before.

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth explained by puppets! Via.

Elizabeth Spann Craig chalks one up for outlining and also talks author photos.

Toni Tesori on 7 secrets to loving book promotion (even if you’re an introvert).

LitReactor asks and answers: How do you know when your story is done?

Motivational penguin via The Penguin Press tumblr:

Gail Carriger has 12 tips for writers in residence, or, the etiquette of café squatting.

When The New Yorker published Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” they sure got a lot of letters. (Thanks to Andy for sending me the link!)

What’s the difference between a street and a road? For you fictional urban planners.

Apparently, revenge is a dish best served fifty-two years after your death. (Warning: That line may be more dramatic than the story warrants!)

Ernest Hemingway


I’ve seen this technique before but it’s still pretty amazing: how to fold a shirt in under 2 seconds. Via.

Why aren’t bidets common in the U.S.?

These design objects and furniture for the private and paranoid person are pretty cool. My favorite piece is the Safe Bedside Table, designed by James McAdam: “Made from birch, maple, and leather, the all-in-one self-defense unit has a removable leg and top surface that acts as a club and shield.” And it’s only $245!

Safe Bedside Table by James McAdam


I am totally digging the chatelaine, “a device popularized in the 18th century that attached to the waist of a woman’s dress, bearing tiny useful accessories, from notebooks to knives.” Collectors Weekly has a great write-up about this killer mobile device for Victorian women (via). Here’s a bit more from the article (go read it!) and a picture:

Like a customized Swiss Army knife, a chatelaine provided its wearer with exactly the tools she needed closest at hand. For an avid seamstress, that might include a needle case, thimble, and tape measure, while for an active nurse it might mean a thermometer and safety pins. Inspired by the complex key rings carried by “la chatelaine,” the female head of a grand French estate, these beautiful, little contraptions were as fashionable as they were practical. In fact, their design was sometimes so trendy that style trumped usefulness.

Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth in the film ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’. |

Interesting: Is this proof that the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts. What a great premise for fiction! But I am skeptical as to history. As a side note, the article also has some great images of Elizabeth in paintings and on screen, like Cate Blanchett from Elizabeth: The Golden Age at left. Via.

On a related note, Bart van Es of Oxford discovered that Elizabethan child actors were “kidnapped and whipped” while researching his book Shakespeare in Company. Never fear, devotees of the Bard: van Es says that “Shakespeare’s writing suggests his distaste for this use of ‘captive children’ for entertainment.” Via.

A most intriguing bit from Farah Mendlesohn’s LJ: “A useful tip from Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork: everyone in early modern Europe carried a knife. A knife was such a basic tool of life, to eat, to cut, to spear, that to see it as “a man’s weapon” is incorrect. (Summary of p. 48).”


Anatomy: 10 body parts you could do without.

Anthropology: At Scientific American, Ladybusiness Anthropologist Throws Ups Hands, Concedes Men Are the Reason for Everything Interesting in Human Evoluation (via Erin Underwood).

Apiology: Bee colonies with promiscuous queens have a better chance of survival.

Astronomy: A view of Earth that’ll make you go whoa:

Botany: 10 plants that smell like meat. Yum?

Food Science: This Is 200 Calories.

Geology: Check out this cool video to see what lava looks like when poured over ice.

Meterology: New statistics on lightning deaths in the U.S. reveal weird patterns.

Neuroscience: What causes words to get stuck on the tip of our tongue? (I have this problem a lot); and along those lines: why your memory sucks (and what you can do about it).

Physics: Evidence that our universe may have collided with another universe (we didn’t get their insurance information).

Physiology: Do Fetuses Poop?

Sexology: Why do we have sex at night?

Zoology: What the hell is going on with these deer? (do click that link—it’s most peculiar); Watch these snow leopard cubs snuggle with their mom; True facts about the mantis shrimp.


Oh, Audrey Tautou! This trailer for Thérèse looks intense!

Mother Nature is a serial killer“: The Film Doctor and W have a discussion about World War Z.

Wired on how Iron Man 3 flipped the script on female characters (apparently, IM3 passes the Bechdel Test).

Whovians, is this Dalek dress not the bee’s knees?

Also for the Whovians: a thank-you from Matt Smith:

The elves of The Hobbit grace the cover of Empire (via):

Check out these two clips from Red 2 of the fabulous Helen Mirren being, well, fabulous.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt posted a 30-minute behind-the-scenes video from the series’ second season. Via.

io9’s Observation Deck shared the best-animated 80s cartoon intros. It was fun to see these again, especially the one below (whose theme song I still find myself singing from time to time—it’s really catchy):

Serious film buffs will want to watch John Hess on The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio.

The Mary Sue has 13 independent sci-fi/fantasy movies you need to watch (on that list I’ve only seen The Fall, but several others are on my to-watch list, some even on my shelf right now!).

Speaking of to-watch movies, I really want to see Byzantium. io9 has an interview with director Neil Jordan and also contends that Byzantium explores what vampirism would actually be like. Did you know that the film was based on a play? Neither did I!

The trailer for Jug Face is wonderfully creepy. Or horrifically so.

I enjoyed reading about Hollywood’s cleverest bait-and-switch casting stunts (several of which I already knew, but still a fun list).

Harry Potter fans will enjoy Two Delighted’s Harry Potter Studio Recap (the studio in London just opened to the public, and Megan took lots of pictures).


Slow down the Seinfeld theme by 1200%, and, yadda yadda yadda, you get this (via):

Not ready to get up just yet? Here’s one of my most favorite 70s songs, “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks:

Now let’s bring it up with The DeFranco Family and “Heartbeat … It’s a Love Beat“! Dig those sweet 70s fashions!

And here I am reaching into the 80s because this morning I woke up singing this song and I. Have. No. Idea. Why.


From Super-Team Family:

DC Women Kicking Ass has a preview of the new Batman/Superman #1—as Sue says, “If [Jae Lee’s] art on Batman/Superman was food, you’d want seconds,” and I think she’s right. The art is fantastic! I really like how muted the colors are, and (as Sue notes) the figures of Superman and Batman don’t have the heightened musculature so predominant in comics. (Which brings up a good question: why does Superman need to have a bodybuilder bod? He doesn’t have to rely on the size of his muscle, per se, to still be a god.) I also like Lee’s take on Catwoman—all grace in action, but without the reliance on overt, in-your-face sexuality.

I said a little over a month ago that I had one reason and one reason only for wanting to go to San Diego Comic-Con this year. Well, make that two reasons. I’m dying over Dave McKean’s cover for the SDCC souvenir books (via). Literally, I think I may be dying.

-sigh- To cheer myself up, here’s the irrepressible Madéleine ♥ Flores:


Youtuber FiveStarTrekker made a video of every time Spock says “fascinating” in the original series (via):

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