To 1, or To 0: Translating Binary in Fiction

Nat Russo How-To, Subject Matter Expertise 4 Comments

Binary in fiction is often laughable to an engineer like me. You’ve all seen the same scenes I have. A scientific research facility gets a signal from outer space. After several try/fail cycles, one of the junior scientists has a Eureka! moment.

“Eureka! It’s binary!” the scientist says. [At least, I hope not. I really hope the writer does a better job than that. But, you get the idea.]

Binary, the magic message container.

Within hours (or even minutes), the engineer translates the entire message to perfection (with images and blueprints even!) and we understand the message being sent by the alien civilization. We can then march off and build our new teleportation device, space ship, poverty-fixing widget, or, perhaps, merely learn the meaning of life.

Only one problem. Binary, in a vacuum, doesn’t simply translate directly to English words. Trust me…it doesn’t even do it in a Roomba. (Ba-dump-tis)

The upshot is this: You cannot simply translate binary to English (or any other language) without additional information.

Let’s find out why and how to fix it so that your scientist can at least appear to know what they’re talking about.

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Do You Have a Dangling Participle?

Nat Russo Editing, Grammar, Revision 2 Comments

For that matter, what is a dangling participle?

Those of you who have followed the blog for a while know that I periodically gather questions people ask on Twitter with an eye toward writing a larger response here. Some questions simply require more space or finesse than 280 characters will allow.

This isn’t one of them. But I’m going to do it anyway, because it has been too damned long since you friendly folks have heard from me!

As you can see from the first sentence, the question of the day is, “What is a dangling participle?”

Carrot on a stick
It’s sort of like this…except it isn’t. So, forget I mentioned it.
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Are You Still an Aspiring Writer?

Nat Russo Basics, Writers 11 Comments

You’ve been writing for days, months, years, perhaps decades. You have a few pages or paragraphs under your belt. Or, perhaps, you have partially finished manuscripts collecting dust somewhere. But, you just can’t bring yourself to use the word writer. Are you still an aspiring writer?

What am I?

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. You’re wrong. Misguided. Lacking a certain amount of self-confidence and a personal sense of authority and ownership. But, you’re not alone.

Let’s talk about a few of the things that might be holding you back from using the W-word.

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How To Beat Writer’s Block in 30 Minutes

Nat Russo Basics, How-To, Process, Writing 4 Comments

Have you ever reached a point where the thought of opening Scrivener (or your document editor of choice) filled you with not only dread, but disgust? Have you ever stared at your laptop and silently uttered the words, “I just can’t even…”? It may not have had anything to do with lack of inspiration! It’s just that you couldn’t bring yourself to take another slog through your work-in-progress. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, I’m going to show you how to beat writer’s block in 30 minutes.

Big Ben

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How to Become An Author

Nat Russo Basics, How-To, Process 2 Comments

Every once in a while, an aspiring author reaches out to me to ask how I did it. How did I manage to accomplish the seemingly Herculean task of becoming a published author of a series of bestselling novels? While the voices of these authors are different, the sense of incredulity and exasperation are all the same. I can tell, through inference, that they’ve asked this question before of countless other authors. I suspect they’ve also received the very same answer I give them. But, it’s an answer they don’t like.

To become an author, you write, write, then write some more. And when you feel as if you can’t write another single blessed word, write two instead.

Becoming an author often feels like Sisyphus pushing a rock uphill.

“Yes, yes,” they say. “We’ve heard that a million times! But how did you do it?”

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Quora Names Russo Top Writer for 2018

Nat Russo Awards 2 Comments

I received a truly unexpected honor this morning. Jonathan Brill, Head of Global Writer Relations for Quora, reached out to me to inform me I’ve been named as one of their Top Writers for 2018.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with the site, Quora is a question-and-answer site where anyone can sign up, post a question, and wait for answers to start rolling in. The awesome thing is that many of the people who are waiting to answer these questions are leaders in their industry, so the answers tend to be authoritative.

I’ve been writing on Quora for about a year now, mostly on topics involving software engineering and computer programming. What makes this honor that much more meaningful to me is that the answers I write to various questions are upvoted or downvoted by my peers in software engineering around the world.

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Discount on The Mukhtaar Chronicles This Week

Nat Russo Giveaway, Promotions Leave a Comment

Hi friends!

This week only, both Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling, books one and two of the international bestselling fantasy series The Mukhtaar Chronicles, are on discount for $0.99! Additionally, the standalone novella The Road To Dar Rodon, which follows the adventure of a much younger Mujahid Mukhtaar as he journeys across Erindor seeking vengeance, is absolutely free! Sale ends Friday!


Necromancer Awakening Cover Art

Cover Art for The Road To Dar Rodon











Amazon Alleges Violations by KDP Authors, Publishers

Nat Russo Publishing Leave a Comment

Amazon is taking additional steps to fight abuse of the KDP system, including injunctive relief and triple damages. Is it too little too late, or just the beginning? Click the source link for the complete article on Publisher’s Weekly.

Amazon Storefront

Amazon has filed arbitration complaints against five individuals who it claims offered services to KDP authors and publishers intended to help them manipulate the reading platform for financial gain.

Source: Amazon Alleges Violations by KDP Authors, Publishers

Scrivener Auto Completion

Nat Russo How-To, Scrivener 2 Comments

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to type the same word or phrase over and over again in your manuscript? Maybe you have a tricky-to-spell character name, or you use a lot of technical terms?

What if I told you that Scrivener can automatically type those words/phrases for you with the stroke of a key?

Scrivener Auto Complete

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