500,000 Hits!

fireworks1This morning, I became aware that this blog, storiesbywilliams, has just reached another milestone. Yes, after three and a half years, this humble site has reached half a million hits. And as usual, I’d like to include a few other pertinent numbers to help put this all in perspective. For example, since this blog went public, it has reached the following:

  • 500,180 hits (as of writing this)
  • 7041 Comments
  • 2089 Followers
  • 1834 Posts

Once again, I can only say thank you to all those folks who have helped make this possible. You know who you are 😉 And just for once, I thought I might let be things brief and poignant. So thanks and congrats all around, and onto the next thing!

News From Mars: Curiosity Celebrates 2 Years!

curiosity_peakEarlier this month, Curiosity marked its second year on the Red Planet, and this anniversary comes amidst plenty of exciting news and developments. Ever since the rover touched down at the Bradbury Landing site inside the Gale Crater on August 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm PDT (August 6, 05:31 GMT), it has been busily searching for signs that life once existed on Earth’s neighbor. And as it enters into its third year of exploration, it is getting closer to accomplishing this lofty goal.

The nuclear-powered explorer is the largest, most advanced rover ever built. And since nothing like it had ever flown before and the maintenance facility was over 160 million kilometers (1oo million miles) away, the first months that Curiosity spent on Mars involved an array of system tests before it took it first tentative rolls across the Martian sands on its roundabout path to Mount Sharp.

curiosity_roadmap1Curiosity’s main mission was to find out if there are any places on Mars where life could have once existed – specifically, areas displaying minerals and geology that could have been produced by water. The Bradbury Landing site, where it touched down, turned out to be very close to an ancient dried lake bed in an area named Yellowknife Bay. According to NASA, this lake bed may have been able to sustain microbial life billions of years ago.

And then, barely six months after landing, the scientists struck gold when they drilled into a rock outcrop named “John Klein” at Yellowknife Bay and unexpectedly discovered the clay bearing minerals on the crater floor. This was the first instance of Curiosity finding clay-bearing minerals. or phyllosilicates, which are a key sign that organic molecules could exist on the planet.

Curiosity_drillingsAs Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the Caltech said in a statement to mark the anniversary:

Before landing, we expected that we would need to drive much farther before answering that habitability question. We were able to take advantage of landing very close to an ancient streambed and lake. Now we want to learn more about how environmental conditions on Mars evolved, and we know where to go to do that.

Compared to its first year, which was marked by many firsts – such as the first drilling operation on Mars, the first laser firing, and first UV night scans – Curiosity’s second year on the Red Planet has been more routine. However, it hasn’t been without its share of excitement. In February, the rover cleared a dune that blocked its progress and in July it negotiated a detour around rocky terrain at Zabriskie Plateau.

curiosity-2nd-year-2However, by far, the majority of the rovers second Earth year on the Red Planet has been spent driving as fast as possible towards a safe entry point to the slopes of Mount Sharp. To date, Curiosity’s odometer totals over 9.0 kilometers (5.5 miles) since landing inside Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012, and her on board camera has snapped over 174,000 images – many of which have been transformed into panoramic shots of the surface.

The desired destination for the rover is now about 3 kms (2 miles) southwest of its current location. This consists of a bedrock unit that for the first time is actually part of the humongous mountain known as Mount Sharp. As the primary destination on her ongoing mission, this layered mountain in the Gale Crater towers 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) into the Martian sky, and is believed to hold the most compelling evidence of life yet.

mountsharp_galecraterThe sedimentary layers in the lower slopes of Mount Sharp are the principal reason why the science team specifically chose Gale Crater as the primary landing site. Using high resolution spectral observations collected by NASA’s powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), they were able to determine the presence of deposits of clay-bearing minerals. or phyllosilicates, a key sign that organic molecules could exist on the planet.

In late July of this year, the rover arrived in an area of sandy terrain called “Hidden Valley” which is on the planned route ahead leading to “Pahrump Hills”. Scientists anticipated that the outcrops here would offer a preview of a geological unit that is part of the base of Mount Sharp for the first time since landing. However, the sharp edged rocks caused significant damage to the rovers six aluminum wheels, forcing it to make a detour.

Mars_rovermapThis detour will take Curiosity to a similar site called “Bonanza King” to carry out its fourth drilling mission. According to NASA, this is no great loss because the two areas are geologically connected and the space agency is keen to look at a formation that is different from the crater floor formations encountered so far. Engineers are studying Bonanza King to see if its is suitable for drilling by assessing whether or not the plates seen on the surface are loose.

When drilling operations resume, NASA will study alternative routes to Mount Sharp and determine how well the rover’s wheels can handle sand ripples. However, as Dr. Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Sciences, said during an interview during the rover’s second anniversary in Washington, DC : “Getting to Mount Sharp is the next big step for Curiosity and we expect that in the Fall of this year.”

Godspeed, little rover! And I do hope that it finds the long-sought-after organic particles it has been looking for since the mission began. This discovery will not only show that life once existed on Mars (and still does in some capacity) it will also be one of the greatest scientific finds of all time, and maybe even serve as the starting point for ensuring that it can exist again.

terraforming

Sources: universetoday.com, gizmag.com, (2)

New Milestone: 500 Follows!

fireworks1The good people that run WordPress have just informed me that this humble blog o’ mine has reached an important milestone. As of 3:00 AM this morning (Pacific Daylight Time) I received my 500th follow! Combined with followers from Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter, that brings the grand total to 2,091!

I’m especially happy about this because for some time now, I’ve had trouble breaking the 2050 mark. It seemed that with every new follower, I would lose one, and that’s never nice. Sounds greedy, I know. But it seems that the more people you have willing to listen to you, the more concerned you are about keeping that following.

https://wordpress.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/achievements/followed-blog-500-1x.png?m=1391188133h

Naturally, I want to thank all those people who have signed on to follow Storiesbywilliams. This past March marked its third anniversary, and for those who have chosen to stick with me over the past few years, I am especially thankful. The support and encouragement I have received since deciding to go public with my writing have made quite the difference.

Not only has it helped me to bring my written work to publication by giving it the feedback and constructive criticism it needed, it has been the difference between toiling in anonymity and making meaningful connections with people. This is why I began writing in the first place, and knowing that there is a receptive public makes all the difference.

Here’s to three years more and (fingers crossed) another 500 followers! And to those I’ve been following myself, I hope I have managed to make a similar contribution to your work. None of us is alone on this journey and we all need to know that we are doing matters to others. May it lead us all to somewhere joyous, fruitful and (God willing) profitable as well!

Happy Anniversary!

fireworks1Today, I got an all=important notification from WordPress.com. It tells me that today is the third anniversary of this here blog, also known as storiesbywilliams.com. Yes, it was on this day, three years ago to the day, that I started this little enterprise in order to publicize my work, share what inspires me, and connect with other writers and bloggers out there.

And as with all anniversaries on this site, I’d like to commemorate this by sharing a few facts and figures, just to put it all in context context. Three years on this site has resulted in the following numbers:

  • 3 years
  • 1095 days
  • 8760 hours
  • 1576800 minutes

Or, to put it in terms of what I’ve actually done with that time, which seems much more relevant:

  • 410,057 views
  • 6,417 comments
  • 2,039 followers
  • 1,541 posts

And as usual, I would like to thank all those who helped make this possible. Since starting this blog, I’ve managed to publish all my works from 2004 onward. These include Source, the Legacies: Preludes collection, Data Miners, Whiskey Delta, and most recently, Papa Zulu. And in the coming months, I plan to release Flash Forward, and finish work on the long-awaited Yuva Anthology.

And, just as importantly, I feel I’ve learned a great deal, thanks to the personal and professional connections I’ve made. And wherever possible, I’ve tried to pass that experience and knowledge onward; and shall continue to do so whenever possible. This site is, was, and always will be about inspiration, and that belongs to no one and everyone.

So expect to hear plenty more from me, and be sure to make yourself heard as well – as often and as much as possible. Here’s to three years more, and to forever looking onward!

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350,000 Hits!

fireworks1Woohoo! It feels like forever since I reached a milestone and felt the need to celebrate. But that’s to be expected after a few years. At first, they come fast and often due to the fact that everything’s new and exciting. After awhile, they naturally become fewer and further between. But it’s always important to mark these occasions and take the time to give thanks.

So my thanks to the many people who have chosen to come by over the years. Especially those 2038 of you who have chosen to stick around by subscribing and/or following. And thanks be to the people who have offered constructive criticism, comments, and ongoing support. I would name names, but I don’t want to leave anybody out. Besides, you know who you are!

And of course, a big shout out to people who’ve offered beta reading, editing and constructive criticism to my own works, and have allowed me to do the same for their own. This coming March will mark storiesbywilliams third anniversary, and I hope to have a number of things done by then. So stay tuned, and expect me to come by and camp out in your blogs as well!

The Grand Old Word Count

sb10067155f-001A little while ago, I saw a challenge – not sure where, could have been Goodreads or Facebook – where indie authors were challenged to take all the stories they had written and tabulate a total word count for them. Like a lot of writing exercises, it was clearly designed to put things in perspective.

All too often, writers can get hung up on sales numbers or the total number of books they’ve managed to get out there. Especially for indies, these numbers can seem underwhelming or discouraging at times. So naturally, its fun to take a look at some bigger numbers and see just how much we’ve really shared, because that is what writing is all about right?

So I did my grand total. And just for some added perspective, here’s some other big numbers for comparison. The average person has a vocabulary of between 35,000 – 75,000 words*, depending on their age, level of education, and life experience. And in the course of a day, people speak between 7,000 and 20,000 words, depending on their gender (apparently, women speak more than men)**.

ar_storybookBetween Data Miners, Whiskey Delta, Papa Zulu (yet to be published, but is complete), my Legacies short stories, Source, my Yuva shorts, and other assorted tales I’ve put up on this site, my grand total of words is:

531,944 words published so far!

And that doesn’t include the countless words that are sitting in my Stories folder that haven’t been published yet. I’m telling you, there has to be at least 250,000 words between all those unfinished stories, novellas, and shorts. So I really can’t count those… yet!

word_cloudBut I would be remiss if I didn’t include the roughly 1250 articles I’ve published on this site. God only knows how many words I’ve spewed in those! Obviously, I’m not about to add them all up, but a random sampling of five articles put the average at about 2000 words each. Multiply that by 1250 articles and you’ve got… oh my God… 2.5 million words!

Okay, let’s upgrade that then to roughly 3.000.000 words published so far. So basically, in the two and half years that I’ve been running this blog, I’ve written the equivalent of what an average man speaks in the course 428 days straight, or the average woman does in 150 days. Is it me, or is that nuts?

And now I put it to you indie writers… between your indie published stories, blog, articles, short stories, novellas, full-length novels, and flash fiction, just how many words have you generated and shared with the world?

*bbc.co.uk

**dailymail.co.uk

300,000 Views!

fireworks1Oh dear. It seems a milestone was passed this week, one which slipped under my nose once again. Ever since I hit 200,000 views, which seemed like forever ago, the milestones have been fewer and further between. You tend to stop keeping track of noticing when they roll around. But when the stock ticker hits a number with five zeroes behind it, you suddenly find yourself taking notice.

And when I did, I noticed some other important milestones had also slipped by unnoticed. For example, back in March  Stories by Williams celebrated its second anniversary. That alone was reason to celebrate, but since that time, the site also surpassed 2000 followers, 5000 comments, and 10,000 likes. Oh yes, and I also passed 1000 posts by a significant margin (1148, as of this posting). Awful lot of number here!

Oh yeah, it was also since the second anniversary – roughly one month later in April – that Whiskey Delta was published and sold over 1300 copies. A special shout out to all those who helped make it possible – Rami, Audrey, Carla (my darling wife-editor), and of course, Mr. Max Brooks himself!

Looking ahead, there’s always plenty more to do. First, I want to publish part II of the zombie-fiction series, Papa Zulu! And of course, there’s a few anthologies to take care, such as Yuva and Flash Forward. And then there’s the ongoing Revengers saga that’s been growing some serious legs of late. And I imagine there will be plenty of science, tech, and pop culture news to share in the meantime…