Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Oak Island Money Pit

The money pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, is one of my favorite stories about possible buried treasure. Mostly because there have been so many excavations of the site and yet, still to this day, there is still conflict and mystery surrounding it.

in 1795, an eighteen year old boy discovered a depression in the ground of oak island and a tackle block hanging from a tree adjacent. So he convinced two of his friends to help excavate the hole.

A few feet down, they found a layer of flagstones, and on the walls of the pit were visible markings from a pick. As they kept digging, they found layers of logs every ten feet, but they were forced to abandon their quest after about 30 feet.

Eight years later, a company of men arrived at Oak Island to tackle "the money pit" as the pit had been named, seeking what was rumored to be pirate treasure (Captain Kidd's or Blackbeard's).
They continued the excavation down to about 90 feet, continuing to find layers of logs every ten feet. They also found layers of charcoal, putty and cocoanut fiber at 40, 50 and 60 feet (and it is important to note that coconuts do not grow in Canada).

At around 80-90 feet they recovered a stone with an inscription on it. At the time, someone translated this to read:  forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.
Unfortunately, the stone's current whereabouts are a source of continued conflict so the inscription cannot be verified.

Once they removed the stone, though, the pit flooded back up to 33 feet and no amount of bailing could remove the water. (Later, it would be discovered that the pit was attached to 3 exits tunnels that led to the ocean (whether these tunnels were manmade or not is another source of conflict. If man-made, it leads many people to believe that the tunnels were put in place as a type of booby-trap, acting as a siphon to pull water into the pit if someone were to dig past a certain depth)).

In 1849 another excavation drilled into the pit (after failing to drain it) and, using an auger, drilled through a spruce platform at 98 feet, a twelve inches headspace, 22 inches of "metal in pieces", 8 inches of oak, another 22 inches of metal, 4 inches of oak, another spruce layer and finally clay for 7 feet without striking anything else.

In 1861, an excavation resulted in the collapse of the bottom of the pit, either into a booby trap, or a natural cavern. Further excavation continued up through the 1950s (Franklin Roosevelt was part of an excavation in 1909 and kept up with news regarding the money pit for most of his life).

Today, treasure hunting continues on oak island under the terms of a license.

The most popular theory about the pit is that it is the location of Captain Kidd's or Blackbeard's treasure (who was famously quoted as saying he buried his treasure "where none but Satan and myself can find it"). But other theories abound, including Marie Antoinette's missing jewels, treasure from a Spanish galleon, Freemason treasure, or documents from Sir Francis Bacon proving he was the one who wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Of course, skeptics say that the money pit is actually a natural sinkhole, which is not uncommon for the mainland area. The layers of logs could be fallen trees that have fallen into the hole.
I don't think we can rule this out, but the strict, even layers of the trees throw this into doubt, as does the layer of coconut fiber (which was tested at the Smithsonian).

Whether there actually is treasure in the money pit though, if there ever was, still remains a mystery to this day.

The Money Pit today

Thoughts? Theories?

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Which I'm Neurotic

I've been a neurotic mess for the past two or three weeks. Ask anyone who's spent any time with me.

It's because of querying, of course. I always forget how crazy I get right when I start querying something new.

I mean, I've been down this querying road before, so you'd think I'd be used to it by  now. And in a way I am*. But still, the obsessively checking the gmail is, like, extra worse this time.

But, last week, the neuroses lifted a bit. I felt less obsessive about the gmail, felt pretty good about how querying was going (which has been very good, so far. Part of driving force behind so much crazy, methinks) and was ready to start tackling the new WIP.

So I did. The outline was done (if rough. That middle, man. I dunno. I'm hoping something obvious will show up as I write. We'll see I suppose) and I was just wasting time and staring at gmail. So I dove in and wrote 1.5 chapter.

And it was pretty terrible. But I also liked it. I need to have 15 pages ready for workshopping for the MFA. Normally I'd just keep going, but I've told myself I'm allowed to go back and tweak this beginning as much as I want until I have to submit it. Then it's mostly off limits until I finish the whole draft.

So the next day I went back and started fixing the first chapter (I had to back up a bit, start a little sooner for some grounding and world building. Already it's looking better).

But then some crazy awesome stuff happened (involving twitter (which I don't want to talk about because of reasons I outlined here)) and BAM! All forward momentum stopped. I didn't even finish writing the sentence I had started. I was back to being neurotic.

But, luckily, it seems the neuroses weren't able to keep their grip. I was pretty much back to business mode the next day.

But, it makes me realize, if/when I get an offer, I am going to be pretty much useless for the next two weeks. I foresee that I will drive quite a few people crazy before it's all said and done.

How about you? Feeling neurotic about anything?

*So when you've done a lot of querying, rejections get a lot easier. But, unfortunately, the good news (reqeuests and junk) also don't feel as exciting as they used to. So it's still a rollercoaster, but the climbs and the drops aren't as high or low.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In Which I Have Superstitions

I'm oddly superstitious while querying.

Which is kind of weird because I'm not actually that superstitious as a person. But when querying, I dunno, man. I'm just worried about jinxing things.

It's why I never talk about how querying is going for me on the blog. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Every once in awhile I'll give a little generic hint, but I'm honestly worried that if I talk about it too much, I'll be jinxing it.

Which is funny because I'm perfectly fine talking about it in person with people (and by in person i mostly mean via email). So why do feel that talking one on one is okay, but bringing up on social media is asking for trouble?

I have no clue.

(Completely OT: I'm watching Tangled while writing this and found a plot hole. Rapunzel has been locked in her tower her whole life. She even sings a song about how she's never felt grass or the sun or what have you before.

And yet somehow, when trapped in a hole filling with water, she knows how to swim? That makes no sense. BOO on it, I say. BOO)

Anyway, is there anything you're oddly superstitious about?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Fun

Hi Ape-Friends!!

Yvie's here to launch you into the weekend with a little bit of fun!

But remember, as always, winter is coming

Let's get to it!









Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Shugborough Inscription

Sometime between 1748 and 1763 the Shepherd's Monument was built on the grounds of Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, England. It contains a relief sculpture of Nicolas Poussin's painting The Shepherds of Arcadia.



The monument was commissioned by Thomas Anson, but paid for by his brother George Anson.

Which, okay. Nice little monument, but where's the mystery? Where's the weird?

Directly below the mirror image of the painting.

A sequence of letters rest between the letters DM

The letters have never been explained and to this day remain one of the world's most cryptic ciphertexts.

On Roman tombs, DM typically stood for Diis Manibus: dedicated to the shades. But no one has been able to figure out what the remaining letters mean. Some people think maybe they're acrostic (each letter represents the initial letter of a word) but theories abound.

One theory is that the letters are a dedication by George Anson to his deceased wife for the Latin phrase Optimae Uxoris Optimae Sororis Viduus Amantissimus Vovit Virtutibus -- "Best of wives, Best of sisters, a most devoted Widower dedicates (this) to your virtues"

Another theory is that the letters stand for numbers which sum to 2810, the distance in miles from Shugborough to the so-called "Money Pit" on Oak Island in Nova Scotia (another Wednesday Weird post I have in the making).

None of the existing theories, though, whether plausible or just crazy, satisfactorily explain the secret message carved into the stone of the monument.

Thoughts? Theories?

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Which I Regret Not NaNoing

I slightly (sliiiightly) regret not doing NaNo this year.

Yes I miss the camaraderie and I feel a twinge of envy whenever I see anyone with their word count  tallies (even those of you running behind. Yes, I'm envious of you too).

But it's more than just missing out. Come early January I have to attend my first residency for my MFA. And we have to have 15-20 pages to workshop.

What we workshop doesn't have to be what we work on with our mentors. It can be something different or completely separate. Or it could be a chunk of what we're going to work on for the semester too.

I could probably bring a chunk of All That Remains. But I've just started querying it, and the idea of workshopping it while it's out and about, makes me feel a little sick. I dunno, I just don't think I'm the type of person who can do that.

So that leaves something new. And that leaves under two months to come up with it.

Now, I've been brainstorming a new novel, but I've been taking my time, trying to come up with a side plot, trying to think of more ways it can get worse for my MC, trying to make sure he stays active instead of reactive (which is always a problem for me). I'm making good headway in the prep, but not enough to write an outline yet, which I need to have before I start drafting.

So. I've decided to set myself a goal/deadline. Spend the rest of November brainstorming and doing the rest of my pre-draft prep, but come December, time to start writing the new novel. I don't need to finish it, obvs, before the residency, but I would feel much happier and less stressed out if I could at least get like 20K or so down beforehand.

I wish I had realized all of this before NaNo had started. Then maybe I would have tried harder to get ready before November and join in with everyone else. But I had stuff going on with All That Remains, and that had to be my priority at that time. Anyway, nothing much I can do about it now.

How about you? Are you NaNoing? Or did you skip it this year?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Fun

We've reached Friday which means we're almost into the weekend!

Yes! Carry me off into the weekend!


Let's get it started with our usual fun!




Awesome dollhouse

Thanks to Michael Offut for the video

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group

First Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group.

So.  Last week I finished my final revisions on my YA fantasy WIP ALL THAT REMAINS.

It was a straight push through to finish them up and I'd say it took a good five hours to finish them. But I did.

Part of what motivated me to get them all done in one day was that I told myself I was allowed to send out a test query if I finished them.

And I did. I actually sent out two test queries, because why not? I'd been good.

So as of last week I officially started querying ATR. And as of last week querying has officially been going well.

It's funny. I've queried two other novels before. And you'd think by this point it'd be easier. And it really is in some ways, but writing up that first query, throwing in the sample pages, checking the sub guidelines one more time and then hovering over the SEND button--well, that apparently doesn't get easier. At least, not for the first couple of queries, anyway.

I try not to get anxious or nervous about it. I know once I start working on my next WIP (which is in the planning stage. Hopefully won't be too long before I can break it out) it will get a lot easier. But until that happens I'm just as anxious as I was during my first querying journey. Maybe more so, because the first time, you don't really know how long replies take. And the third time, you know which agents are likely to request from you, or to reject you, and how long it often takes.

Which means a lot of checking Gmail. Over and over and over again. Even on weekends, when it's rare to get a query response.

So, yeah. Turns out that even when you're an old hand at it, querying can still dredge up emotions. Even unexpectedly.

How about you? Any of you in the query boat?

Monday, November 4, 2013

In Which I Got Book Happy... Or Something

So as I briefly mentioned last Thursday, my laptop is busted (has a virus or something). And until I can afford to get it fixed (hopefully my next paycheck) I'm stuck working on my netbook. Which normally wouldn't be a problem, except that my stupid MS Office starter stopped working so I had to shell out the cash for MS Office for my netbook (which further delayed the laptop fix)

Anyway, I normally do a lot of my blog surfing and all my blog writing with my laptop, so being forced to do it on my netbook is a pain in the ass.

But here I am, carving out some time, trying to catch up on writing some posts.

But, if I'm behind on your blogs, please know that that's the reason why, and not because I'm ignoring you or anything. I actually miss you quite a bit. You know who you are.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw that Allie Brosh's, from Hyperbole and a Half, book: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened released on Tuesday. I was so excited that I went and ordered it right away.

The email said it would arrive on Friday, so I was patiently waiting when, TADA! It actually showed up on Thursday, a day early.


But, imagine my surprise when I got a package in the mail on... Friday. And it was the same book.

Conclusion: I guess I preordered the book way back when, forgot I had done so, and then ordered a new copy. So now I have two.

Luckily the Bro said he would pay for the second copy, which is good.

Am I the only one who's ever done this? I hope not... Please tell me I'm not alone in this...
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