Thursday, October 16, 2014

Artificial Intelligence characters are fun!

Both my biotech/paranormal mystery Genome the novel and my SciFi series Arlo and Jake have AI characters. AI is a hobby of mine. I find it fascinating.

In 'Genome', the AI is called 'PIP' who interacts via a holographic avatar, while helping the main characters control a gymnasium sized holo-deck. 'She' also handles all of the bio genetics manufacturing facilities and lots more.

In the 'Arlo and Jake' series, AI's work and fight along side my heroes and also with the black hats. They come in all sizes and shapes, from the disembodied space battleship AI that communicates with them via an implant device, to the humanoid, autonomous cyborg servants.

Writing these AI characters has been one of the best experiences of my writing career. Of course it helps that I can write virtually anything I want, letting my imagination roam wherever it desires. And it's gone down some really silly trails at times, trust me. At this point in time I've decided to stay away from AI-AI relation ships, it's just too hard to make that stuff up. ;-)

One of the fun aspects of AI characters is how they would interact with 'bag of bones' characters. My first attempt was 'PIP' (it stands for Program Interface Protocol). She starts off as a straight forward Star Trekkie 'ships computer', living on a laptop. Her visible interface is just a 3 inch image floating next to the monitor.

As the story progresses, she matures in intellect and avatar abilities. It was so much fun to raise PIP from a simple sprite to a full blown hologram, working side by side with the main characters.

The AI's in Arlo and Jake run the gamut, from top of the line battleship AI's to silly cafe drink carriers. In this series I'm really stretching my AI legs. I'm always looking for ways to incorporate more AI interactions.

Why? Because in a few short years you and I are going to be surrounded by AIs and I want them to know that I'm a fan. ;-)

Be cool
Be happy
Be an AI buddy
Be!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The world is so small, so vast...

It strikes me, again and again, that I live in marvelous times. Not Polly Anna times, mind you. Humans are humans; with all their frailties, faults, fears, strengths, courage and faith. Rather, marvelous in our abilities and opportunities.

Since this is a writing blog, I want to relate what I mean in the context of the global community of writers. A community I try to participate in  as often as I can.

I was recently on Goodreads, a web site dedicated to helping 'people find and share the books they love'. I have an account there where I chat with people all over the world about books. I have an Author's account on the SciFi Writers group where I talk about my books and discuss other authors books. It's been a great help to me and I have author friends everywhere, everywhere. The UK, Canada, Australia, France, Scotland, Japan and others.

But the marvelous part of this is the global community part. It's said so often that we've become numb to the words. 'Global community'. Contact, anytime I want, with any reader or writer who wants to talk. We can joke about a pun, discuss voicing in a novel, what the difference between a novel and a novelette or the curse of the apostrophe. Anything!

This ability has opened the world of literature in the same way that the train and the airplane opened the world of travel. Those novelist that are masters of their craft still command the limelight and accolades. But now the amateur writer can have an audience as well.

We don't need a big name publisher to take a chance on us, which means they won't. We can write and publish and all it costs is our time. For those who really enjoy writing, it means we can continue to write and get better even though our rank on Amazon is too low to get attention. If you can't publish, you can't get a readership.

I've already had several writers contact me on Goodreads to say they want to chat and exchange ideas.

Exchange ideas without qualification. They didn't ask if we were competitors but rather how could we cooperate.

My small neck of the woods just got a little bigger. It's amazing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

And the plot thickens...

Check out my last post to get up to speed on adding a plot thread to keep the tension up in your story.

It's probably obvious to seasoned writers, but to me it was an 'ah ha' moment. And I'm really digging it. I can feel my writing muscles flexing as I speak here. A great new 'tool' to add to my writers toolbox. And it's fun!

My new plot thread involves a nasty, nasty bad Dude that I introduced specifically to get Arlo into trouble. I had already decided book 3 would have more characters and this one is a doozy! It's so much fun to play with the black hats, they can be over the top and still totally interesting and engaging. We love's to boo our villains!

As a result of this cool new path in the story, I also get to explore the dark side; the nefarious caverns of nefariousness, as it were. I get to sip a smooth Texas Bourbon (Witherspoon's Texas Bourbon Whiskey, made right here in Lewisville, Texas, in case you're interested ;-), and ruminate about my villain's background; the world that spawned him; what motivates him and his species. Why is he so cranky?

He, and his species, are coming to life in front of me, as though I opened a door and poof, it's his world! Wuuf, it really smells in there!

You know, I thought I'd have to pull my own teeth to create this guy's background. Far from it! He's spilling his guts on my keyboard every time I visit him. It's hard to shut him up!

How about you? Do you play with your characters? Do you talk to them at night as you're drifting off to sleep? Do you make notes to remind yourself to ask them about their religions, their social structures, their taboos and pleasures. I do.

I don't care if it's crazy or not, it works for me.

Time to get back and ask the Chi' how he and the Missus are getting along. He's on the space-road a lot these days, being evil and disgusting and have a general good time.

Be cool, my friends.
Be open to plot threads.
Be adventurous.
Be!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Adding a plot thread...

Book 3 of 'Arlo and Jake', my 'SciFi series with a funny bone', is steaming along again after a month of slow progress. As I have said before, I'm really trying to make book 3 better than 1 or 2.

I'm pretty damn happy with the results, so far. I reread and rewrite every day, looking for stupid mistakes and places to add some zing or humor. It's amazing that I'm still finding typo's! ;-)

I'm having a blast adding 'meat' to bones of the story. More about Pixie, Captain Starla and some new characters you don't know about.

My last reading reminded me that I've left one of those new characters in limbo, so to speak. It's not necessary to the plot to do anything in depth with this character but I realized that another plot thread would add some great tension to the 'arc'.

Now, I purposefully keep my plot arcs simple and easy to follow. I write fun adventures, not epic sagas. I loves me a good Dan Brown 'Da Vinci Code' or Clive Cussler 'Dirk Pitt' yarn to read. But writing those kinds of twisty mind benders is not my thing, y'all.

But, while thinking about where I left this character, and some of his supporting entourage, it occurred to me that right here in the story would be a great place to visit him and see what he's been up to.

That lead me to a realization that his story could be expanded and woven into the main arc easily. It's a great chance to show you another corner of the Universe I'm creating, galaxy by galaxy. Cool!

Remember the first time you entered Jaba the Hutt's den of thieves? A whole new section of the Star Wars universe opened up. Who was this guy? What makes him so powerful and feared? How did he get that hot green skinned girl with tentacles on her head? And why on Earth would he drop her into a pit with... whoa, what is THAT monster!

It was awesome! New characters, new worlds, weird outfits, great sidekicks; it was just awesome. The Mos Eisley Cantina scene was another cool introduction into the weird and wonderful.

Introducing new creatures and environments was one of the best achievements in that movie series. You never knew what would pop up next and you couldn't wait to see what did.

I'm adding this plot thread to keep up the dear readers interest and keep him/her wondering where I'm leading them next.

What fun!

Be cool
Be happy
Be a great friend
Be the Bee!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Let's try something else...

I just cancelled my subscription to an automated twitter posting service. I've been creating tweets and putting them out there almost everyday. It was my first time using a service to try to find and talk to newbie and experienced writers and artists.

Now, I kept changing when they were posted, adding new ones, modifying old ones and removing stale one. I didn't want to become a robot tweeter so that I became irrelevant in the writing community. But. Several writing friends have hinted that that was pretty much what is happening.

I was getting good response from new twitter friends but my existing twitter mates are getting tired of seeing the same tweets every day. It makes it look like I'm just using twitter to shout 'hey, buy my books, please!'. ;-)

Truthfully, at first, that was what I was doing. I saw lots of other people doing exactly that, so I thought it was OK. But the more I think about it, the more that's not what I'm trying to do.

I absolutely want people to buy my books. But more than that, I want to meet and talk to authors. I want to exchange ideas, tricks and lessons about the craft of writing. I want to use the amazing Internet to reach the minds of crazy people like myself. I want us to explore the awesome worlds of imagination together.

I don't apologize for turning down this cool avenue in the social media streets. It was fun. I did pick up a lot of great new friends and learned a ton about interacting in the twitterverse. I hope I can continue to find new pals and talk about life, love and of course writing.

I'm still on twitter, tweeting and listening. I hope to meet you there and have meatier discussions about the craft we love.

Be cool!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pie to the Face Challenge for Scleroderma!!

All charity challenges are for a good cause. They help to raise awareness of a disease or problem that is poorly known or unknown to the general public. They help raise badly needed funds for research and treatments.

video
My daughter has Scleroderma. You can read more about this incurable disease online at Scleroderma.org. It means 'hardening of the skin' and you may have seen the 1996 TV movie 'For Hope' about Bob Saget's sister, Gay.

We're hoping that presenting this new charity challenge 'Pie to the Face for Scleroderma' will do just that, bring awareness for the need of treatment and a cure.

I've added a video of silly me doing the challenge.

Thank you for any help you can provide.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Are we there yet???

Arlo and Jake, book #3, is at 32,000 words!

That's about 1/2 way home for my style of fun, adventure books in this series. I'm not going to write the story to fit 60,000, but I think 60K to 80K is the perfect length. Any less and it's more of a novelette like book #1. Any more and it's really hard to keep the story 'contained'. I'm really not a fan of mega-stories. I have the attention span of a gnat, as I have said many times before.

Book #1 was short, about 100 pages, on purpose. I wanted a quick, fun intro into my wacky new Universe of cool characters and Galactic chaos.

Book #2 is about 60K, or 200 pages, just the right size to dive in, have some fun with new heroes, new villains, more puns, more Galactic mayhem and a few side characters.

Book #3 introduces a lot more characters, a few twist in the Universe and, hopefully, more depth in the characters and their interaction with each other and the Universe. Meatier, for you literary snobs. ;-)

That is what is taking me so long. I decided to make #3 better than the first two. And that's hard.

I still want the fun, the adventure, the 'oh wow' moments, the sexy women in uniform, the bad ass heroes, the dastardly bad guys and, of course, the snarky dialog.

I also want it to stick to your ribs like a good steak and make you want to read the next one. And the next one. And maybe even interest you in my other books! (ahem, like 'Genome' ;-)

Plus I want to feel like I'm becoming a better writer. Storytelling is fun. Hard as hell, but fun.

So, my apologies for not delivering in May/June/July as I had promised. I truly want this book to be worth the few bucks it cost you.

Be cool.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Universe is NOT against me after all!! Whoo Hoo

At 3:33 AM, my Muse woke me from a pleasant dream and smacked me soundly on my thick noggin. "You putz," she said, "what did you do a month ago with 'Etchings'? Well?"

She was referring to my last post, where I reported the sad fact that I'd lost the ending chapters for my short story 'Etchings'. I could not understand how it happened since I'm a paranoid 'Save'/'Backup' writer.

"Well, dummy? Don't you remember deciding to switch to WordPad from NotePad to get better formatting?"

Well slap my face and call me Sally; that's it!

So, at 3:33 in the morning, I grabbed my ASUS notebook computer and opened the story in WordPad. Sure enough, I had left the default settings for 'Save' and the entire story was still there in my \Documents folder.

A quick copy/paste from that document into my new Word document and voila! I'm back on track with a full first draft! Yes!

Bear in mind that I've been writing software since 1980. A genuine software developer who knows how applications usually work. I just totally spaced out the default save locations for WordPad or any other Microsoft application.

Sigh.

And yes, I backed it up! ;-)

Have a great week, my friends.

Be cool
Be happy
Be the Bee