Look Out for the Supermoon this Spring Equinox

Spring Returns with the Equinox Supermoon 2015

The spring equinox on March 20th 2015 brings with it the sight of a solar eclipse and Supermoon. So, what exactly is a “supermoon”, and how does it affect the Earth?

Spring Equinox Supermoon

Spot the equinox Supermoon overhead in the northern latitudes of Africa, Asia, and across Europe. In addition, learn some of the best ancient sites to observe the equinox with solar alignments at sunrise and sunset. Learn more with my latest article at Astrology.Answers.com, Celebrate the Spring Equinox with a Supermoon.


Chinese Zodiac 2015: The Year of the Green Sheep (Goat)

Horoscope for 2015–the Year of the Green Goat

Welcome to year 4712 in China. The Chinese New Year on February 19th marks the entrance of the Year of the Goat (Green Sheep) in the Gregorian year 2015. The goat is a gentle, patient and kind zodiac sign that’s given to anyone born in the Chinese calendar years 1919, 1931, 1943, 1967, 1979, 1991 or 2003.

Year of the Goat 2015

The Year of the Green Sheep (Goat) is the time when our previous investments begin to make their returns.

Those who have planted the proper seeds for success, can expect to reap the harvest this year. Read more about the Chinese New Year and the 2015–the Year of the Green Sheep/Goat with my latest article at Astrology.Answers.com.

cc: Epic Fireworks

8 Quick Writing Tips

Want to improve your writing in an instant?

There are a few quick tips and tricks that are sure to have an impact on the overall quality of your creative writing. Apply these simple solutions for immediate results next time you sit down to write.


The quality of content relies on a few writer’s secrets or tricks of the trade. That is, the impact of writing can be achieved by tricking the reader with attention to detail in visual style and cadence in rhythm.

Improve your creative writing style with a few easy tricks:

1. Start and End Strong

One of the easiest tricks in the book is to begin and end each sentence on a strong word. Both the beginning and the end word hold positions of impact that tend to favor a good sentence structure. Use these two positions—the beginning and end words—wisely.

2. Lose Excessive Adverbs (like –ly)

Not that “ly” outright stinks, but it creates an excessive style of writing. Limit the use of “ly” by working around the issue. Instead of “he foolishly and cowardly retreated”, he is “the foolish coward who retreated”. The second packs more of a punch in that the description transforms his very figure into that of a coward.

3. Back to the Active (forgeting –ing)

readingThe problem? Your writing is living in the past—it’s too passive.

It seems like everything that ever occurred within the world of your writing amounts only to a “has been” or “was” or “were”. And why do you keep using “ing”? Invite your next writing piece to join us here in the active with a switch of the verb tense. When you write verbs like “is”, the rest of your sentence takes place in a passive realm of speech. Bring it back to the future with a more active tense. That is, “she would always forgive him” may be clarified for greater impact as, “she forgave him, always.”

4. Pick a Verb (any verb)

Avoid extensions of the verb “to be”, and go freaking crazy. That means eradicate ‘is, am, are, was and were’ and replace each with a more precise word. Try a word that better captures the tone, mood or essence of the original meaning, and inspire excitement with the dynamic motion of action verbs.

5. Set the Tempo

tempoSentence tempo is proportionately linked to the duration of its length. Is it all happening too fast? Cut it in half. Does it require a slow, reflective pace?—let it unfold with the elegance of a rose petal and consider indulging the aesthetic passions with an appeal to the senses. Use the added length to set scenes with imagery.

The abrupt execution of a sentence is character to the nature of a quick tempo—thus, it captures the desired pace with a quick delivery. It works in just the opposite way. The more added details, the slower the pace of each sentence in the exposition. Preserve the dynamic quality of content by applying tempo changes for more organic writing.

6. Accentuate the Rhythm

Create a rhythm with the words of each sentence. Not that it is important to always write poetry, but purely technical writing is bland in flavor. To make an impact on the reader you will need to apply a rhythm to your writing that captures their attention—and holds them in the moment long enough to listen.

7. Go with the Flow

Never hesitate to sacrifice simplicity of traditional structures and writing techniques for the rhythm and flow of a much greater sentence. Sure it’s safe to go with what’s expected, but great writing holds a unique quality—so dare to be bold. Originality can be achieved, if you simply go with the flow. Focus less on standard sentence structures, and move writing forward with organic modes of organization.

8. Write for a Particular Reader

cat reading (2)

Many authors believe the secret to writing success is to narrow down your target audience. Even more so, you should narrow this down to a particular in mind. In this way, you are able to communicate your message much more effectively. The unique quality of more precise writing allows you to focus on the appropriate content and carry out the purpose with organized intent. To truly make an impact, the writing must speak to the reader and interpret the intended message with clarity.

If not, you may find that afterwards you’ve wasted a lot of time–as it all ends rather pointless and fails to satisfy the intended purpose.

Need help curing writer’s block? Try the Ultimate Guide to Overcome Writer’s Block.


cc: WordShore, Found Animals Foundation, sammydavisdog, Santa Cruz Public Libraries

Library of Alexandria: Who was Hypatia?

There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time.


The teacher Hypatia was born in 355 CE, the daughter of a notable mathematician Theon. She is considered one of the greatest female philosophers of Alexandria who taught philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. Hypatia lived in Alexandria at the decline the city’s intellectual and academic greatness just before its demise brought about by complete and total destruction of former monuments.

Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions.

Hypatia travelled to study in Athens and Italy before she took her position as the head of the Platonist School in Alexandria. She relayed the teachings of philosophers Plato and Aristotle and was considered by the people of Alexandria as a woman of grace, beauty and modesty. Hypatia was eloquent in speech, able to clarify complex subjects with ease and held a respectable position amidst her male counterparts in an increasingly patriarchal society.

On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in coming to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”

Theon and his daughter Hypatia worked to reformulate Euclides’ “Elements” a foundational textbook still used in mathematics today. Hypatia charted the celestial bodies and invented the hydrometer—a tool used to measure the relative density and gravity of liquids.


Though, it is said that some became envious of her use of the astrolabe in public.

Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop.”

Although the city of Alexandria was founded on a principle of religious freedom, in later years the rising Roman power threatened the fundamental ideals of the city. Hypatia was a pagan, yet the Romans spread a religion of “faith”, which was threatened by Hypatia’s pagan beliefs and ideas of rationalism. Despite the fact that her students were pagans, Christians and people of all religions, Hypatia was seen as a threat to this new rising religion taking hold in Alexandria.

In the year 391 CE, the Christian emperor Theodosius I ordered for the destruction of pagan temples. Hypatia was opposed to the authority of an idea of “faith” and continued to defend traditional ideas of Greek rationality.


By the year 412 CE Theophilus died and Cyril (his nephew) took his place as patriarch of Alexandria. Cyril who would later be named the “father of the Christine doctrine of the Trinity” saw Hypatia as the largest threat to this new religion.

In March of 415 CE, a Christian mob (possibly Nitrian Monks) led by Peter (the Reader) hunted down and killed Hypatia in her great crumbling city of Alexandria.

Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.”

Despite the atrocious acts committed by the church of Alexandria, there was no retaliation for the gruesome murder of Hypatia—a well-respected woman of reason.

This affair brought not the least opprobrium, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church. And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort. This happened in the month of March during Lent, in the fourth year of Cyril’s episcopate, under the tenth consulate of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius [AD 415].

After the death of Hypatia, many remaining scholars fled to Athens and the Dark Ages took hold across Europe. The Intellectual Light of Alexandria was extinguished, as Hypatia’s death marked the end of Hellenistic thought.

both skillful and eloquent in words and prudent and civil in deeds. The rest of the city loved and honored her exceptionally….So then once it happened that Cyril who was bishop of the opposing faction, passing by the house of Hypatia, saw that there was a great pushing and shoving against the doors, ‘of men and horses together,’ some approaching, some departing, and some standing by. When he asked what crowd this was and what the tumult at the house was, he heard from those who followed that the philosopher Hypatia was now speaking and that it was her house. When he learned this, his soul was bitten with envy, so that he immediately plotted her death, a most unholy of all deaths. For as she came out as usual many close-packed ferocious men, truly despicable, fearing neither the eye of the gods nor the vengeance of men, killed the philosopher, inflicting this very great pollution and shame on their homeland.”

She was torn to pieces by the Alexandrians, and her body was violated and scattered over the whole city. She suffered this because of envy and her exceptional wisdom, especially in regard to astronomy” The Suda (Y166).


Stefan Geens, SBoyd, Viewminder

How to Overcome Writer’s Block (Ultimate Guide)

Writer's BlockUltimate Guide to Defeat Writer’s Block

Do you suffer from writer’s block? If you’re worried that your ability to form words into writing has left you forever, it’s time to make a change.

When you find yourself at an impasse or unable to write, change things up!

Defeat writer’s block, and try something spontaneously different:

1. Do the Opposite Thing

Are you worried that your approach to writing is messing up your train of thought?

Then just do the opposite thing that you’re doing right now. If you write in the morning, start writing in the evening instead. If you started from the beginning, skip to the middle or end. If you’ve been developing characters and dialogue, focus on the plot. If you can no longer write, research or read instead. If your scheduled routine has yet to work, throw off all sense of regard for time. If you are typing on a laptop, hand-write it in a notebook.

Just don’t do what you’re currently doing—it’s not working.

2. Find a Better Place to Write

The ideal writing space is one that reduces distractions and puts you in an organized as well as constructive setting—an aesthetically pleasing place that’s comfortable to you. Productivity is not something you can force, it comes from working in the optimal environment with a positive mindset.

A great trick to reduce distractions is a pair of headphones.

3. Establish Overall Purpose

Have you stopped writing because your piece lacks quality? Maybe the idea of writing a book sounds fun and exciting, but do you really have an underlying motive that fuel’s your creative passion to write? If not, you should find one.


Sure escapism is fun, and everyone loves a good story. But your story may come across as empty and quite forgettable if it’s lacking an overall purpose, theme or reason for having been written.

Have you established your overall purpose?

James Joyce4. Do Your Research

You may not really have a grip on what it is you wish to convey.

Writing requires you to take your thoughts—those things that we call “abstracts”—and turn these ideas into “concretes”. This is accomplished through the use of literary devices and masterful storytelling techniques. Maybe there are some tricks you have yet to encounter that may benefit your writing greatly.

Perhaps you should research more about classic styles, storytelling techniques and literary theory—I recommend Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction. Whether you like Rand or not, read it.

5. Create a Schedule

Let’s be realistic here—at the rate you’re going, you may get this thing published in a few decades.

But that’s no way to approach writing, considering what you think and write right now will be much more relevant to today’s readers than it will be to those living thirty years into the future.

There’s really no time to waste.


Construct a schedule using the estimated number of words you wish to write along with a reasonable amount of time it should take to write each section. Set realistic goals and time-frames to map out a weekly or monthly schedule. This is a great way to track your progress and trick your brain into understanding the amount of time it takes to carry out such a task—and why the reaction to hesitate makes this goal nearly impossible.

Turn writing into a step by step procedure—set deadlines, timeframes and dated goals.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

-Douglas Adams

6. Break it off into Bits

Sometimes writer’s block is more the product of our own procrastination than anything else.

Procrastination is born of our brain in overload—when the amount of energy and effort needed to accomplish a goal seems to cloud our better judgment about the way in which we should go about achieving this goal. So we put it off.


You may be in need of a more systematic approach to help ease the mind from stress and self-induced procrastination. Get organized and construct an outline for each writing piece—break off each section into separate pieces.

Choose one section to write at a time by breaking it into bits, and forget the rest!

7. Get the Blood Pumping

Workout, meditate or take a walk to get the blood pumping. All that extra circulation and blood flow to the brain invites the essential oxygen your mind needs to operate at its most optimal level of cognitive functioning.

Take a Walk

Some say the secret to writing is to take a walk—I myself would prefer a drive.

Meditation may be an actual “fix-all” when it comes to writer’s block. Those who meditate understand that when life throws them a riddle, worry only intensifies the problem and patience reveals the answer in time. So, quiet the mind.

Read8. Read for Inspiration

Writers may find it difficult to read a book. That is because they are constantly considering the scenes, dialogue, and themes while reading as pertaining to their own book or writing piece. It’s easy to get lost in a story only to find that the characters or plot begin to remind you of your own creative writing ideas.

Use this interaction as a source of story inspiration.

9. Invest in a Timer

For a more practical problem-solving technique to cure writer’s block, invest in a timer. Psychology says you can pretty much trick the human body into doing what you want with a little classical conditioning.

Try setting a digital timer for a certain number of minutes or hours dedicated for writing each day. When you press “start” don’t leave your seat until the timer is up. Start with an easy 30 minutes to write, and try adding to this each day you manage to conjure up some words.


Even if you have written nothing within 30 minutes, you will feel much antsier to write something profound the longer you sit and stare. Remember, the act of writing is a triumph of mind over matter.

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

—Mary Heaton Vorse

10. Listen to Music

Music is an essential source of writer’s inspiration. Words are distracting, but instrumental or classical music has the power to set any writing mood—elated, fearful, sad or serene.


Without music, I would not be able to write. My own writing routine consists of a pair of headphones and beautiful music (preferably the cello). It’s something that has always worked for me.

In fact, when the headphones go on, my mind confirms, “it’s time to write.”

11. Let the Mind Wander

It becomes difficult to write, when you place so many restrictions upon what you expect to see when you’re finished. Don’t expect anything to come out perfect the first time around. Allow yourself room to make mistakes by constantly continuing to move forward in search for something new.


Look what lies ahead instead of behind. Consider all the things the writing could be without constraining yourself to a box of rules and writing guidelines. You may be focusing too much on others’ writing styles or preestablished methods. Dare to be original.

Be bold and allow your wandering mind to direct the flow of your writing.

12. Connect with Nature

Could you ever expect to construct a world of your own without taking notice of the landscape, beauty and natural wonder of the world that exists all around you?

Connect with Nature

You must witness the most extraordinary sunset to capture and convey the emotion you felt as you watched it disappear over the horizon.

13. Change Directions

Maybe the reason you’re having trouble writing is because you’ve lost interest in your own piece. Save yourself from the anguish of further writing. If you are bored with it, you can’t expect anyone to enjoy reading it either. Perhaps you have changed your mind—so integrate this fresh new perspective into your writing.

Change Direction

Some writers remain static and sacrifice the quality of a piece out of stubbornness. It’s important to always remain flexible when writing, and identify when problem areas require changes or omission.

With no motion behind your writing, you’re in need of a change in direction.

14. Go People Watching

Daily life, chance happenstance and the exchange of everyday “small talk” is a great source of inspiration for dialogue. Observe and listen close to the way in which people interact.

People Watch

Take a good look at the people around you and ask:

  • What are this person’s most prominent or distinguished features?
  • How do they dress or carry themselves?
  • What do they say or do while interacting with others?
  • Does their gait, dialect or style of dress reveal something about them as a person?

Always look at the shoes–as I believe choice of footwear reveals a lot about a person (but that’s just me). You can almost begin to construct an imaginary world around the background story of who that person may be. This is a great way to inspire scenes of a book and construct characters with realistic attitudes and qualities.

You need not reinvent the most profound human qualities, when character inspiration is all around you.

Did you use these methods to overcome writer’s block? Get inspired with 7 Ways to Improve Writing Skills.


cc: Tom Mascardo, BMcIvr, Florian Knorn, Cinty Ionescu, L. Mountrakis, Josh DiMauro, Moyan Brenn, Tamás Mészáros, David Knollmann, Phil Roeder, Victoria Nevland, Dmitry Lebedev, Phil Whitehouse

Climate Change: Extraordinary Number of Flowering Plants UK

Abundance of Flowers in Bloom across Britain on New Year’s 2015

During the annual New Year’s hunt for flowers, botanists were stunned to find an unusually large number in bloom. The usual number of flowering plants across Britain at this time of year averages somewhere between 20-30 species.

Yet this year there were an amazing 368 species of blooming plants!

Winter Flowers

This number is recorded by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland as an “extraordinary” event unlike any other occurrence before.

What exactly does this high number of flower blooms mean?

For the experts on climate change, the large number of flowers in bloom is in part the effect of the UK’s warmest temperature year on record in 2014. Therefore, we are seeing the immediate result of warmer overall climate on a regional scale. Just fifty years ago, the number of plants in flower was just 20 species, and the changes are quite apparent.

The scientists conclude that Britain has experienced the fourth mild winter in a row, and the frost has yet to reach these flowers.


The frost usually gets to most of the plants before the holiday season, so to see flowers like gorse (a flower that blooms in the spring) seems a bizarre sight for this time of year.

The number 368 species of flowers in bloom counts for more than 15% of flowering plants between Britain and Ireland. This number is also the combined species throughout the island, while in specific regions such as Cardiff, the highest recorded number of plants in bloom was 71 species.

The experts at the Met Office believe we are seeing the result of 2014 the UK’s warmest year, wettest winter and hottest autumn season (Halloween) on record since their start in 1659. According to the Met Office, these regional temperature and environmental changes are the result of human influence on climate.

This is the result of man-made climate change.

Frozen Daisy

Some of the top plants in bloom on the survey were daisy and dandelion—both found recorded on 75% of the lists. High numbers of flowering plants were also seen throughout Ireland as the average number of species (about 20 on par with Britain’s average) and 40 species at its highest count on Bull Island in Dublin Bay.

It’s likely the flowering plants found could still freeze sometime in February before the close of winter.

Don’t forget to look up tonight and Spot the Comet Lovejoy.


Roger Harrabin. Unusual number of Flowers in Bloom. BBC, January 9, 2015.

cc: Tom Goskar, Ruth Geach, Darren Foreman

Mysterium Cosmographicum by Johannes Kepler

Johannes KeplerMysterium Cosmographicum (The Secret of the Universe) by Johannes Kepler

Famous 17th Century astronomer Johannes Kepler brought us the idea of the ellipse. But how did he come to this conclusion?

Kepler’s research contained within Mysterium Cosmographicum explains how he once viewed the solar system in a much different way before he accidentally discovered the ellipse. Before this great astronomer defined Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, he used Nicolaus Copernicus’ heliocentric model to construct a solar system model of his own. In Kepler’s solar system model, he uses perfect circles to outline the orbits of solar system objects, and places significance upon the distance of space in between each object’s location.

Johannes Kepler draws a solar system model around an idea of divine proportion within Mysterium Cosmographicum. Kepler’s theory is based on the idea that the number seven was divine and that the orbital distances between each planet reflected a proportion of the Platonic solids.

Kepler describes that there are seven celestial bodies in the solar system—the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. With this, he took the Platonic solids and used them to map each planet’s distance with a shape of divine proportion constructed from the number phi or what is also known as the golden ratio. Kepler sought to prove that the solar system was constructed of planets in circular orbits around the sun, each separated by a shape of divine proportion outlined in the Platonic solids that defines its orbital distance.

Mysterium Cosmographicum

When correctly ordered, these solids helped predict the distancing of the planets in the order—octahedron, icosahedron, dodecahedron, tetrahedron, cube.

In the end, Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum proved an incomplete idea of the solar system, due to the fact that it lacked the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. The first of these non-visible outer planets would not even be discovered for another century. Not to mention, his calculations relied on inaccurate figures that dated back to the days of the ancient Greek astronomers.

Kepler’s discovery would end in the establishment of his own legacy, as he revealed the true nature of planetary motion.

Kepler's Laws

The planets’ orbits were not perfect circles but ellipses. With closer observation, what he set out to prove is what he ultimately revealed. Kepler defined the three laws of planetary motion that outline the elliptical orbital motion of the planets in the solar system.

So what are Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion?

  • Law of Ellipses: The orbit of a planet is an ellipse in relation to the Sun at the center point of one focus.
  • Law of Equal Areas: The planet in motion is quickest at perihelion and slowest at aphelion.
  • Law of Harmonies: The speed of a planet’s orbit is proportionate to its distance from the focus.

Despite the fact that he set out to redefine the solar system with a mode of divine proportion in mind, Kepler’s genius can be found in his later shift to the laws of planetary motion when he proposed the model of the ellipse.


cc: Sam Wise, Pierre Lecourt, H. Raab

Izanami, Izanagi and the Creation of Japan

Izanami and Izanagi

In the ancient Japanese religion of Shinto, the islands of Japan were created by the two divine counterparts Izanami-no-miko and Izanagi-no-mikoto.

After the separation of Heaven and Earth emerged from chaos, Izanami-no-miko (she who invites) and Izanagi-no-mikoto (he who invites) stood upon the floating bridge in the sky. Together they held the sacred jeweled spear, and began to stir the primeval ocean. Drops fell from the spear tip to form the island of Onogoro.

Izanami and Izanagi descended to the land upon a Rainbow as husband and wife. Their first born was Hiruko “leech-child” who was born without bones, because the ceremony was incorrectly performed—Izanami spoke first. The two kami were urged to perform the wedding again, and this time Izanagi correctly spoke first giving birth to the island of Japan.

Izanami Izanagi

This sacred union was performed around a pillar. The two danced about the pillar to perform the marriage, and merged in creation each place they met. In time, Izanami bore eight children that became the kami or spirits of the trees, mountains, waterfalls and volcanoes.

Rainbow Bridge

This Shinto tale describes the male and female divine counterparts often called yin and yang. Together, the forces of yin and yang fashioned the visible reality from light–as they descended the “floating bridge” or Rainbow of Colors.

The Rainbow is reminiscent of the seven colors of the visible spectrum to conclude that the two kami were born of Light.

It’s interesting to note that all perception of the visual reality comes as a product of light being translated by the mind into the colors of the rainbow.

Yet, if we take this esoteric connection one step further, we see that the ancient people who lived in the East used the seven colors to also denote the seven chakras–the gateways from which we collect information to interpret the visible reality. Although this is not a prominent belief in Shinto, it is an extension of Taoist health practices.


The kami of Izanami eventually created the eight symbols or trigrams of the bagua–often depicted as the yin and yang sign surrounded by three rows of “open” and “closed” lines.

This ancient system use to depict the underlying forces of nature is quite similar to the idea of binary code. However, where there are “1’s” and “0’s” on a computer, the bagua depicts open and closed lines.

Learn more about yin and yang in the Chinese calendar system with Tao of the Chinese New Year.


cc: Lorena a.k.a. Loretahur, Roy Wangsa, Smithsonian Collections, theirry erhmann

7 Ways to Improve Writing Skills

What the Heck?So you want to improve your creative writing?

Here are just a few quick and easy tips to improve writing skills:

1. Write Every Day

The trick is to write every day. If you want to improve writing skills, it’s going to take practice.

Many writers prefer a certain time of the day, while some take up a more enigmatic approach to creative tasks. Do you prefer the morning or evening? Personally, I’m a night owl with a more enigmatic approach.

The morning is a favorite of many great writers:

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write… You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love.

Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

-Ernest Hemingway

2. Read like a Writer

Nothing fuels writing more than a good book. In fact, a good book may just be the very thing that inspires you to write your own book.


Here are some questions to consider:

  • Why do you like or dislike the content or story?
  • What is impressive about the writing style or technique?
  • How does the exposition, rising action, climax and resolution construct a plot?
  • Is the content organized and structured in parts from introduction to conclusion?
  • How is the dialogue and description used to develop characters?
  • What is the thesis, main point, theme or argument?

Great writers write with great attention and intention.

3. Develop Your Voice

The only way to develop your own writing voice is with practice.

If you plan to write fiction, that’s what you should practice. Fiction writers must decide the “POV” or Point of View they would like to use—first person (I/we), third person (he/she/it).

Point of View

If you plan to write non-fiction, you should understand that there are scientific approaches and argumentative techniques to present two opposing ideas. Non-fiction writers require a thesis—a hypothesis that outlines the thing in which they set out to prove. If you want to prove a point, you also need to present and refute alternative points of view.

The strength in your voice as a writer all depends on the confidence with which you present your facts. Practice writing, read the styles considered “great”, and research ideas to develop your writing voice.

4. Start a Blog or Journal

It’s important to remember that writing should always be satisfying.

Keep a Journal

If it feels like work, take on a more casual approach. Start a blog (something you are passionate about), or write in a daily journal to keep a record of reflections. Creative inspiration comes and goes, so it’s important to have a handy outlet to record your best thoughts throughout the day.

Sometimes the best writing is built on a whim of words—one sentence may be all it takes to get the wheels turning.

5. Get Inspired

What is it that inspires you to write? Most great writers speak of a Star. Find your star, and hold onto it tight.

A writer like me must have an utter confidence, and utter faith in his star. It’s an almost mystical feeling, a feeling of nothing-can-happen-to-me, nothing-can-harm-me, nothing-can-touch-me. Thomas Wolfe has it. Ernest Hemingway has it. I once had it. But through a series of blows, many of them my own fault, something happened to that sense of immunity and I lost my grip.

–F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. Organize Your Thoughts

Sometimes lack of organization can hold you back.


Writing requires a systematic approach to relaying thoughts and ideas. Start with an outline, and work using a rough list of chapters, paragraphs or plot points using the Snowflake Method—then just fill in the blanks.

7. Imperfection is Your Friend

Remember there is always room for improvement. Do you wonder why you hesitate to write? Some hesitate to start or keep writing for fear they will mess the whole thing up. But the battle between writer and inner critic is futile.

The perfectionist impedes the flow of creativity.

First Draft

Leave the inner critic out of it anytime you decide to sit down and write. Instead, enjoy frolicking in a land of no rules and guidelines in the heat of writing, until you have gathered your words and had years to develop your trade as a writer. You can fix what you “messed up” later.

Behold–the power of the first draft.

Go back in time as “editor”, “critic” and “scholar” to make adjustments and corrections to content after all creative writing tasks have been completed. In time, you will learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Did you use any of these tips to improve writing skills?


cc: Cali4Beach, Stefano Corso, Operation Janet, Heidi Blanton, Nic McFee, José Manuel Ríos Valiente

Astronomy News: Spot the Passing Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)

Comet LovejoyThis is a once in a lifetime opportunity to step outside, and see the comet Lovejoy.

Spot the passing comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy–named after Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy who discovers comets in his spare time.

On January 7th, comet Lovejoy will reach its closest position (at 44 million miles) to the Earth. Past this point, the comet will burn brighter and emit vaporized ice and dust, as it nears the Sun on its 11,500 year journey since last pass. Comet Lovejoy is expected to reach a 4.1 visual magnitude at its brightest luminosity in two weeks, when it may even be seen inside city limits.

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy reaches perihelion (closest distance to the Sun along orbital path) on January 30th, 2015.

How to Spot Comet Lovejoy in the Night Sky

As of now, you can look outside and see Comet Lovejoy zooming past us at 36.309 km/s in relation to the Sun–although it appears an inching pace. You may need a set of binoculars or a telescope, until this comet reaches a closer distance to the Earth.

See the Diagram by Sky and Telescope for a map of its path:

Lovejoy Path

If you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, step outside a few hours after sunset to see it.

Locate the constellation Orion (next to Taurus) at about 9pm for a great view of this comet glowing over the horizon. The comet will be easier spotted later in the month when the tail is illuminated by the heat of the sun, and the moon fades through its phases.

Watch the C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy traverse through the constellation Taurus, pass the Pleiades and out through Aries throughout the month of January.

Comet Green

This Chinese New Year, celebrate the close of 2014 and the return of 2015 the Year of the Goat (also the Green Sheep) with a velvet sky and the passing of comet Lovejoy burning bright. The glow of C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy takes on a green appearance due to the sun-rays burning carbon molecules in the comet’s tail. Welcome the Year of the Green Sheep with the green glow of comet Lovejoy as it fades overhead before the return of the Chinese New Year.

Astronomers say, if you don’t see this comet, you have missed the chance of a lifetime. Its orbit may have sped up like a slingshot pulled by gravity into the inner solar system, but it won’t make its return for another 8,000 years.


cc: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center