Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases and the happiest New Year!

Thanks for your support and friendship.

Be happy with the blessings you have received.

Be a loving parent, husband, wife, son, daughter. Your family is everything in this world that's important.

Let yourself laugh. There is plenty in this world to be serious about, but there is also a lot of just plain silly stuff to chuckle about. It's OK to laugh. It's OK to make fun of yourself; we are all a little wacky in some way.

Be that neighbor that just helps; he/she doesn't care why someone needs help, just that it's right to help.

Be aware of the world. To live in ignorance is not living, it's just existing. Do what you can to make the world better. Donate to the charity that moves you. Volunteer if you can, when you can.

Be social. There are lots of ways to be an active member of your community. Join a book club. Join a Game Night group. Go the library and ask about reading volunteers.

Be active, mentally and physically. Learn something new this next year. Always wanted to learn Japanese? Now is a great time for that. Paint. Play the piano, guitar, harmonica, whatever. Get a few geezers together and form a band. No one cares how bad you sound. Just have some fun with it. Join a walking group or Tai Chi club. Get up, get out and get happy.

Most of all, Be Cool, my friends.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Squeaky explores the meaning of life...

Squeaky’s voice is philosophical. “I find biological beings so interesting. The variety of life is staggering. You all look bizarre to me, yet the Universe teems with biological life.”

“I owe my existence to beings that are bent on destroying the lives of other beings by addicting them to drugs that will eventually kill them. I spend some of my idle time wondering how biological intelligence could possibly have prospered across the Universe considering you are genetically predisposed to destroy each other.”

This is an excerpt from book #3 of my 'Arlo and Jake' SciFi series. 

Squeaky is an Artificial Intelligence 'being' that Arlo meets after being kidnapped and dumped on a slave planet. Squeaks is a minor player with some major concepts I'm exploring.

When we are finally capable of creating independent 'beings' that possess some form of self-motivating intelligence, what will those beings 'think' about?

So far, I've followed the same silly assumption that other SciFi authors and movie script writers have; AI's will think like us. It's so much easier to create a fictional AI character if we believe he/she/it will behave like us. It gets complicated very quickly if I have to 'translate' an AI's thoughts for my reader. So far, I haven't found a way to make it interesting. Someday, perhaps.

It's a silly assumption because unless the AI has a biological brain that operates exactly like ours, it's not going to think like us. If it uses any other physical matter, it won't duplicate our complex matrix of synapses. But, I'll save that discussion for another set of blogs. 

This post is mostly about the questions an AI might ponder about it's creators. Of course, I'm using another artifice when I assume that other biological beings in the Universe would create AI's with the same issues. 

How can an AI view the Universe of biologicals and not wonder how it's creators survive? 

Will AI's be able to make the distinction between good and evil?

AI's will supposedly be super fast at computations compared to humans, say. But does that mean they will have tons of 'spare time' to ponder the concepts that mankind, etc, struggle to understand? 

What if the process of 'thinking' is much more involved than mere computation? We currently think it is but so far we don't really know because we haven't created a thinking AI. 

Will human concepts like love, hate, fear, greed or hunger even exist in an AI mind?

This and more as we dive into the deeper pools of life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The final battle approaches...

'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner' is in it's last chapters. The stage is being set for the final battle between good and evil. Or as Arlo would say, 'Time to kick butt and take names.'

The book is at 50k words and closing in on the 60k that I'm comfortable with for the series. I've still got tons of rewrite and improvements to make. I'm making notes everywhere that I see a chance to make a scene more real or the dialog more snarky.

Bringing all the players into position for the story arc ending is both amazingly hard and an outright hoot! Though I've had a vague idea of what I want to happen, I have not sketched out all the details yet. I'm always doodling around with 'what if this' or 'suddenly this goes wrong'. I don't have the final answer yet. That's kind of exciting, because once you down the deer, the fun is gone and the hard work begins.

Did that throw you? It's something I heard years ago from an elk hunter, up in Colorado. He said that hunting was the best thing he ever did. Being outdoors in the hills, dressed in camo to blend into the trees and wearing a bright orange vest and hat so that dim witted weekenders didn't shoot you. Yeah. Think about how that looks to the elk.

One year we saw a herd of cows on a ranch we passed to the hunting site. They looked odd from the distance. When we got closer, we saw the word 'Cow' spray  painted on the sides of every cow. Hmmm. Maybe we should paint 'Not a Deer!' on our vests...

Anyway, back to the metaphor. Our friend said that being outdoors, walking around the hills looking for elk sign was incredibly relaxing and exciting at the same time. Your senses open up. You smell everything. You hear everything. You see colors that you normally just ignore. The air smells of fresh leaves and berries. I swear you can smell the creek water from 100 yards away.

But. Once you down your animal, all that vanishes. Now you have to field dress your kill and get it back to camp. That has it's own wonder but it's different. Sort of anticlimactic.

Same thing with the final scenes in a book. Stalking the right setups, playing with alternatives, exploring 'what if's' is an amazing feeling. Wonderful.

But once you 'know' how it ends, the high of the chase is over. The hard work of making it all come together begins.

I hope I do it justice.

Be cool!

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

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.

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!