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

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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 MindMillion.com, 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.

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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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