Watch "The Naked Writer" Write, Live (But Not in the Nude)

Most of us who write for a living recoil at the thought of other people (outsiders!) watching us write, live, as it happens -- the masses would see not only our terrible typers typos, but also have a way to judge our ultra-slow progress. Most of us don't write in a gallery with a crowd watching. So it's surprising that author Silvia Hartmann has invited readers to watch her write her novel The Dragon Lords live on Google Docs. Yes, Hartmann has asked the world to watch every keystroke as it lands, every plot as it's laid down and later stripped out, and every lordly dragon as it is revealed. She started yesterday, on September 12th, and calls herself "The Naked Writer," although of course that is metaphorical, at least so far (one never knows what could end up in a Google Doc).

As I write this, the Google Doc is overloaded with viewers, despite the fact that Hartmann is not currently writing anything -- according to the end of the document (and her Facebook page), she's in a series of interviews. It will be interesting to see how she balances media attention with writing time, as this publicity stunt-slash-literary experiment picks up steam.

Nick StarFields & Self-Help Books

Hartmann has written previous fantasy novels under the pseudonym Nick StarFields, and has written a bunch of self-help books under her own name, sometimes styling herself as "Dr. Silvia Hartmann" (she apparently holds a "doctorate in ENERGY"). In addition to the many books on offer, she also operates sites like, which offers to "Clear Blocks to Wealth, Prosperity, & Abundance" (one of its main features is a heavily search-engine-optimized page offering money-related clip art). This is a writer who knows how to sell stuff online.

But Hartmann's quirky side-businesses aside, she is in fact writing a novel online -- and is interacting with fans as she does. According to her website, fans proposed possible titles as the project began, and Hartmann selected "The Dragon Lords" from among those crowdsourced options. So far, the book is about a mysterious man who shows up, nude, on a woman's doorstep. The first sentence reads: "It was not every day that Mrs Delhany found a naked man in the driveway." The first section is devoted to a fairly pedestrian exploration of who this man might be, and so is the second -- though in the latest chapter, we start getting into the dragon-related material. It's not exactly Shakespeare, but it's worth a click, especially given what Hartmann said to The Guardian: "[The book] may well be a little sexy." Sexy dragons? Sexy dragon lords is my bet.

How to Follow Along at Home

If you want to watch the project unfold, check out Hartmann's Naked Writer Project site -- it has links to all the relevant stuff. She plans to publish the book on November 26, so the writing process will necessarily be pretty swift. For more on Hartmann and previous similar projects by other authors, check out Daily Dot's story on the project.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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