I love The Big Bang Theory. For those of you out there who aren’t fans of the show, there’s one episode in particular that resonated with me this week: “The Tangerine Factor,” which introduces a thought experiment referred to as Schrodinger’s Cat. It’s a paradox that explores the following concept: a box exists, inside of which is a cat. The cat is either alive or dead, but you won’t know which until the box is opened. Essentially, until the lid is lifted off and one looks inside the box, both realities exist equally. Put another, less morbid way, when faced with any uncertain outcome, there is a moment in which both opposing outcomes—one positive, one negative—exist in a person’s mind.
Tuesday morning was my Schrodinger’s Cat. The phone calls from the Romance Writers of America to the finalists started early that morning and were to be completed by 2 pm. For those few hours prior to the 2 pm deadline, my cat was just as alive as it was dead. The box was sitting there on my kitchen table in the guise of my phone. The lid was firmly closed. I was going to place in the contest. I wasn’t going to place in the contest. Both realities existed equally.
Then 2 pm came and went. I didn’t have to lift off the lid to know the cat inside was dead. In fact, it was starting to stink up the place a bit.
And yet, my disappointment is oddly minimal. I wasn’t especially surprised that I didn’t place in the RITA final round—the chances of doing so are slim, with only 4% of the entrants in each category placing—but it was fun to speculate and dream and gaze hopefully at my phone. In fact, the possibility of placing in the RITAs has occasionally popped in and out of my head since I first entered Clingstone in the contest back in November 2016, but I never banked any high hopes on actually doing so. I dreamed about it, certainly, but I dreamed about it much as I dream about winning the lottery when I buy a scratch-off ticket every Thursday. Or meeting Gerard Butler and having him whisk me off to Scotland. Both are equally unlikely, but oh-so-fun to visualize (the latter in a kilt, of course).
And so, even though Clingstone didn’t make it very far, I still really enjoyed being allowed to participate in the judging process. There’s a lot of fantastic romance novelists out there, and it’s nice to see their talents recognized in a contest like this.
But I cheer myself with the fact that there will be more unopened boxes in my future. And one of these times, like Penny from The Big Bang Theory, I’ll be able to shout, “The cat’s alive!” Until then, I’ll be content picturing Gerard bounding toward me across the highlands.
Wearing a kilt. Or not.
Well, it’s almost here! The finalists for the Romance Writers of America’s 2017 RITA® award will be announced this Tuesday, March 21 by 2 p.m. CDT. The names of all the finalists and their categories—i.e. historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, etc.—will be available on the RWA website tomorrow, so go check it out!
Kayla at KDH Reviews has very graciously included Clingstone in her blog post Ten Books I Loved More/Less Than I Thought I Would! Click here to read the full post.
My Favorite Research Books: How to Survive on Land and Sea, By Frank C. Craighead, Jr., and John J. Craighead
Poor Mae and Creighton. I wrote my heroine and hero into extreme situations of physical endurance, and at one point even subjected them to eating grubs in order to survive. So where did I find all that gag-worthy information about human survival and what people can and can’t ingest into their fragile human bodies? I suppose such facts can be googled easily enough, but there’s nothing quite like cracking open a nice little book like How to Survive on Land and Sea to fully realize the arduous logistics involved in basic human survival.
I purchased this book years ago. In fact, it was originally published by the United States Naval Institute in 1943, but I own the fourth edition published in 1984. I bought it at Barnes and Noble, probably sometime in the early 2000s, and undoubtedly in their bargain book section considering the date. And yet the survival methods found in this book are tried and true and not subject to change from one decade to the next. I bought it solely to research how my characters could survive in extreme situations, most notably if they were forced to forage for food.
This handy little book gives general guidelines about myriad survival concerns, including but not limited to: fire-making, methods of catching fish, edible plants, using celestial bodies to orient one’s direction, water procurement, and so on. Creighton’s knowledge of fashioning fishing hooks out of thorns and roasting cattail roots came from said pages. Again, all things we can google, but it’s handy having all that information in one single, easily accessible book.
In the course of writing my current historical romance novel, Watermark, I’ve referenced the water survival sections of How to Survive on Land and Sea several times. Such information is handy, especially if you’re going to toss your hero and heroine into the Mississippi River in March and need to know how long they can stay immersed in forty-degree water before they risk hypothermia. Hey, I don’t claim to take it easy on my protagonists! Adversity builds character, not to mention attention-grabbing plots.
Now, if only the ill-fated Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater had information like that which is found in How to Survive on Land and Sea. They would’ve known it was hopeless to climb on that silly stateroom door, and they would’ve huddled instead. It cuts heat loss in half, folks! Poor Jack didn’t have a chance.
Interested in learning more? This book is still available for sale on Amazon by clicking here.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Marti Ziegler