When Solar Goes Bad: A Case Study

Apparently someone reposted an old 2015 story and gave it new legs, and my news feed has been full of reports regarding a rural town voting a moratorium on solar energy because the panels would, among other terrible effects, suck up all the sun and stop photosynthesis.

I think you guys are being unfair and are just following the critical mainstream media on this, without paying attention to the evidence which is right in front of you.

In September, I unwisely had solar panels installed on my house, believing the environmental propaganda that they would provide me clean energy without nasty side effects. And sure, by my calculations we’ve produced over 3.4 megawatt-hours of power so far even in a rainy October, the equivalent of more than 4 NYC-LA flights and saving over 60 trees’ worth of CO2.

But. You know there’s a but.

My trees were full and green when those panels were installed. And look at them now. Brown leaves or even bare branches — it’s true. I installed the solar panels, and the trees stopped photosynthesizing. YOU CAN’T ARGUE THE EVIDENCE.

Roof with solar panels beside leafless branches and trees with dead leaves.

You can’t argue the evidence, people.

Continue reading

What is up with #Inktober?

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

Drawing a sword from the book, not stabbing the book. In case it was unclear.

If you follow my social media, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting ink drawings for #Inktober, and that they’re generally awful. You might have asked yourself why I would do that. Do I know how bad they are, or do I see my work through a blissfully ignorant filter? Is it some sort of prank?

So here’s what’s up with Inktober.

First, in case you aren’t familiar with it, #Inktober is a month for doing one drawing — in ink — and sharing it per day. You can find the brief background and this year’s optional prompt list from the creator Jake Parker. It’s something like National Novel Writing Month, but for visual artists.

Now, let’s recognize that I’m bad at drawing. No, I’m really bad at drawing. The local catchphrase for referring to truly hideous visual design is, “It looks like Laura drew it.” (Don’t feel bad. I’m often the one saying it. It’s not wrong to acknowledge my skills are in other sets.) So why on earth would I do Inktober, which unlike NaNoWriMo specifically requires publicly sharing one’s work?

I’m doing Inktober for several reasons: Continue reading

A Marathon Legend

I posted this on my Facebook page and got more reaction than I expected. So here’s an expanded version for your reading pleasure.

For most of my life, I’ve believed the story I read in my 5th grade schoolbook about Pheidippides running 25 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to declare “We won!” before promptly dropping dead, and that’s the origin of the marathon.

Today I learned that’s not at all true. Continue reading

Cover Reveal: Mrs. Claus

From the iconic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street to Clement Moore’s immortal poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to Rise of the Guardians (with a great burly Santa) to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (too awful even for my schlock-loving B-movie taste), Saint Nick has gotten a lot of attention. But there’s another figure who has been consistently overlooked, and it’s time she gets her due.

I mean Mrs. Claus, of course.

And so I am pleased to announce a new anthology of stories all about the lady behind the jolly old elf. Continue reading

Doctor Who, Writing Female Characters, and Equality.

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

On the one hand, I can’t believe we need to have this discussion of how to write female protagonists and balance. On the other, since clearly we do need it, let’s have it.

With the announcement of the 13th Doctor as a female regeneration, the internet slightly exploded. I was actually at a fandom convention during the announcement and heard not only discussion of the announcement itself, but of reactions to the announcement.

We’re going to ignore those who were horrified to discover their Doctor now has girl cooties. They’re easy to ignore — or just borrow for humor, where they’re most useful. Anyway, the haters are vocal but seem to be a minority, or maybe I just have a better-curated network, and I don’t intend to waste blog space on that sort of thing.

But one repeated protest I heard repeatedly in several less-hysterical discussions was, now that the Doctor is a female, the male companions will be written down to idiocy so that she looks clever, and so everything will be less cool and the storytelling will suffer. I found myself saying or typing the same thing repeatedly, so let me just save time and put it here.

This is indeed a huge problem, only the problem is not the Doctor’s personal plumbing. Continue reading

Contest Results: The Derpening

You might recall that I offered a prize for making fun of my awkward pictures. Because I take myself that seriously, all the time. And now, we have the results.

Tiny Laura in green dress with mushroom inside hollow tree trunkThe grand prize of three ebooks and a $20 Amazon gift card goes to Alex McGilvery, for his tasteful and dainty view of a tiny fairy Laura flaunting her tiny fairy status. Alex reports that the mushroom photo is his own, and the dress is stock. What a fun photo manipulation! Congratulations, Alex!

I did include the following guideline:

Winner will be chosen via a bizarre and wholly subjective algorithm of both execution and sheer concept, so if you aren’t sure you can nail both, just hit one or the other really hard.

1966 Batman and Robin fleeing giant head of LauraAnthony Vernon sent his submission with a bit of an apology for being new to photo manipulation, but he nailed it on concept. I love the 1966 Batman and the idea of being an over-sized and over-the-top villain watching the Dynamic Duo flee is kind of awesome. So I had to invent a runner-up prize for this one, and Anthony will be receiving two books of his choice and a $10 gift card for his work.

Oddly, no one took me up on my “any medium” provision (“Any creative take on my distress or hair flip, in visual art, words, song, sculpture, interpretive dance, whatever, is eligible”), so I have no other categories of work to share. Maybe another time!

Please join me in congratulating our winners!

Seems Legit.

There is a phenomenon in which some skeevy lowlife steals a title and often a manuscript from a published book and re-publishes them on Amazon in his own account, trying to fool readers into buying his “edition” of the story and stealing royalties from the author.

Most of the time, though, they do a better job of matching a more plausible cover. Continue reading