Friday, April 10, 2015

My first Goggle Hangout with Paul Levinson

(Sorry about being out of sequence. Somehow this post had a strange embedded something and refused to show up with the red background.)

I spent some time last night talking to the marvelous Paul Levinson (@PaulLev) about his novella 'Loose Ends'. (link to Amazon)Check out the event here:

As Mr. Levinson puts it: 'Time travel has always been my first passion as a reader and then writer of science fiction.'

We discussed some of the Universal fascinations that all of humanity seems to possess, regardless of culture or geography. Time Travel, Religion, Immortality, Flight (without machinery), Telepathy, Magic in all it's forms, etc.

Time Travel seems to be one of the human desires that sparks endless debates and speculations from virtually everyone. Sometimes in jest, other times very seriously.

Why is that?

Is it because we're 'aware' of time's passing? We can change so many things about our environment but not change what has already happened. Yet because we're aware that there is a yesterday, we seem to gravitate to it, seek it out like a lost love one. 'If only I could do that over...'

So check out the event and Mr. L's books. I'll be posting a review this weekend.

Unless of course there is Time Travel. In which case my future self will come back and write it now.... ;-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bring it home!

Sweet Josephine in the pumpkin patch, this has been a grueling slog!

This book, 'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner', has been a wicked tough roller coaster. Great emotional highs and 'when will it end' lows.

I've had an absolute blast creating new creatures and personalities for my Universe. I've tried very hard to up the quality and depth of this story. I want you to enjoy this one more than the other two.

I've explored more AI possibilities this time. I dive deeper into the unknown pool of 'what if' and I'm very proud of what I've created. I think you'll enjoy all the cast and crew of this cool boat of mine.

The lows are mostly not delivering on time. Write. Rewrite. Redo. Start over here. Extend there. Better descriptions here and there. Better dialog. Better background stories.

It all takes a huge amount of time. But, of course, it's worth it. It pushes me to be better. The harder I work, the more I like the results.

Book #3 is in final editing. Now to make the cover and wait a few more days.

Be cool, everyone. 

Enjoy the moments.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The support of friends


Because I have the support of friends:
- I can write stories and not worry how good or bad they are because my friends will enjoy them.
- I can stop for a beer at the 'Drunken Donkey' and just enjoy being alive. The hot wings help.
- I can show up at work and feel like I'm a part of the team. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I get help.
- I can player poker once a month with a bunch of old farts like myself and feel 30 years younger for a couple of hours.
- I can reminisce about the good ole' days of shooting the breeze over the chain on ole' Blue, even through none of them really know what 'over the chain' means.
- I can share sad moments, so that I don't feel like they only happen to me.
- I can share happy moments, so I can make others happy too.
- I get to share in their lives. They allow me to be a part of something bigger than myself

I am so blessed that my best friend is my wife of 44 years.

You've got friends.
Share with them.
Tell them how cool they are over a platter of nachos and a beer or glass of sweet tea.

Family and friends are the pallet of paints you use to color your world.

Use the brush generously.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It feels so GOOD!!!!!!!

'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner' is draft complete! Yippeeee!

OK, not complete, I grant you. So no fireworks yet, But. My editor is pouring over the draft and filling the pages with red ink. A sure sign she likes it! ;-)

If I can keep up a head of steam now, I'll be heading for port in a few weeks!

Draft complete, for me, means the plot arc works and I've got all chapters 'done'. I can read the story, front to back, and it makes sense.

I've got:
- complete story with no holes that I know of
- characters are flushed out. new ones have good background stories. old ones mesh well in the story
- new environments are believable (it's SciFi, but the reader still needs to feel 'ok' with everything) and interesting
- dialog is interesting, funny in places and keeps the reader drawn into the story
- it holds together with the first two story lines
- it provides good impetus for the next book

Considering all the chaos I've had the last part of 2014, I'm feeling pretty good that I've accomplished this, even though I'm really late.

Persevere, my friends.

Be cool. Be happy. Be tenacious.

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