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!
Be!

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Aaarrggghhhh! Where did it go????

I finally had one of those 'it will never happen to me' moments in my writing career. I lost the last chapters in a short story I thought I had finished!

I'm having my in-house editor trash my latest short story 'Etchings'. She's been brutal and honest. Damn. ;-) Hopefully, I'll learn how apostrophes work some day. Nah, probably not.

Anyway, we're at the end of the story and it's gone! The climax I worked on for days, while chomping on a salad at my favorite Gazebo Burger in Frisco, is GONE! What the hell!

It's my fault of course. I should have been backing up my work to a thumb drive. I have one my key chain just for this sort of thing. But hey, I hit 'Save' every few minutes while I'm working so why bother? Right.

I don't know what I did wrong. Maybe I hit the wrong buttons while I thought I was saving. Maybe I shut the lid on my new notebook Win8 and ran the battery down. I just don't know. It doesn't really matter, somehow I messed up.

The lesson here is to backup your work often. NOT 'save' often, you should do that of course. BACKUP often. To a thumb drive. To the cloud. To a CD. To a USB drive. Print it out. Whatever works for you. Just do it.

Now I have to hope I can recreate the excitement I had in that original finish. I think I can remember most of it, but frankly I'm not sure.

Sigh.

Don't let this happen to you.

BACKUP!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Goodbye my friend...

The passing of Robin Williams has tilted my world. It caught me completely off guard, though I knew he had depression problems for years.

I miss you already, Robin.

It's not my place to judge you, I have no idea what life was like for you. I can only say I truly miss you.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

'The Shoe Box' The first collection of short stories from UK based author James Smith.

The Shoe Box: A Collection of Short Stories

The Shoe Box is the first collection of short stories from UK based author James Smith. Five
contemporary stories examining the human ability to deal with adversity, maintain that special
spark and our obsession with competition and celebrity.

Filled with richly developed characters and punchy humour (ah the brits ;-), this collection of stories is ideal for the commute or the coffee break.

Available on Amazon.com here.  And Amazon UK here. Also available to borrow through the Amazon Prime scheme.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Am I a serious writer now???

I splurged on a notebook computer to do my writing. I wanted to be able to write in the park areas where I work, at the local burger joints, in the break rooms, wherever. And I wanted a large touch screen system to write and test mobile games.

So I splurged and bought an ASUS X200M at Best Buy. When I bought it, it was on sale for $279! So far I love it; it's perfect for writing and learning all about touch screens and 8.1. It's small enough ( 12" X 8") to carry around in a soft case.

So now I have no excuses for not writing, anytime of day. For about a month, I've been taking it to a local burger joint, grabbing a salad and plinking away for 45 minutes. I've been very pleased with how much work I can get done in 45 minutes, when there are no other distractions.

I'm up to 27,000 words in book #3 of Arlo and Jake, and I've almost finished a short story/novelette that has been bugging me for months. I don't normally split my time between stories, but the characters in this one kept barging into my stream of consciousness, so I decided to breath life into them. Hopefully, they will leave me alone when I wrap up the story. ;-)

It's interesting to use both the keyboard and the touch screen to write. I find myself scanning up and down with a swipe to find that last passage or character name that I've already forgotten. Otherwise, I use the keyboard and built in mouse as always.

Anyone else out there use a notebook or laptop to write?

Let me know how it's going for you.

I am very interested to know if anyone is using 'cloud services' to keep their manuscripts. I'm 'this close' to trying it, I'm just paranoid I'll lose something in the ether. ;-)

Be cool
Keep writing!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Check out my interview with I.B. Nosey!

The ever wacky I.B. Nosey, winner of the coveted Pukelitzer Award and other highly questionable honors, interviews me on his site.

Follow along as I beam him aboard the ship and explain the plight of Arlo and Jake in my humorous SciFi adventure series.

Just click the following blurb from Mr. Nosey's site and follow the fun!

'Follow along with I.B. Nosey, your favorite intrepid internet reporter, as he interviews compelling guests, uncovers important truths, and embarks on harrowing, suspenseful adventures.'


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

On a roll, Arlo and Jake 'Lost Partner' just passed 24000 words!

I know some (a lot?) of you can knock out whole books in a couple of months. I envy you. I just can't do that.

If I ever become a full time writer (hello literary agents looking for an up and comer... here I am! ;0), then I can dedicate most of the day to spilling my imaginary guts.

For those of us who have day jobs and family commitments that can't be pushed aside, it's a chore just to push our stories forward a few pages every night. And that's what I do. I sit my butt on the couch and try to write a couple of pages every day.

This 4th of July weekend was busy. Gardening, honey do stuff, guitar lessons and a granddaughter that will NOT be ignored (I wouldn't anyway). These last three days seemed to flash by. Here I am, late at night, trying to update my writing blog and do the social media bit.

But. I got several chances to focus on book 3 and damn if I didn't crank out some cool stuff. It's over 24,000 words now!

Arlo and Tia are trying to stay alive on the swamp planet. Jake and Pixie are trying to stay alive on the Triumph, in the middle of an interstellar battle. And I get to orchestrate it all!

Writing is a blast!

Sure I'd like to do it full time. But until then, I'm celebrating days like this.

You need to celebrate too. Any time you write, you are celebrating being alive.

Be happy for today. WRITE!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Busy day AND I still wrote 2 pages! Whoo Hoo!

To sum it up:
- Woke up early and walked around the block
- Drove to work, sipping on a spinach, kale, banana, milk and blueberry 'shake'. Yumm.
- Busy, productive day at work. Digging around in the guts of Winforms trying to find out why some of my buttons refused to respond to being set to 'visible'. Sheesh! As is usually the case, it was stupid user ( that would be me ;-) error. What used to work in the original code works slightly differently in C#. Live and learn. ;-)
- Drove home. You don't want to know about the crappy traffic. Does Texas EVER finish a highway?
- Paid bills
- Dealt with the mail
- Had a great dinner of seafood enchiladas and black beans
- Updated my blog (this post)
- Updated tweets, adding 5 new followers, thanking each for their interest
- Wrote about 800 words on a battle scene in book three of 'Arlo and Jake' SciFi series
- Wrote some notes on a short story I'm writing ('Etchings' if you're interested...;-). I think I've got the outline pretty well fleshed out now!
- Made a few notes on a game that's been brewing in my fevered noggin... Working title is 'Marching Martian Zombies'. Cool!
- Got in 30 minutes of practice on my classical guitar!

So what? Well, I just wanted to show that if you really think about it, there is PLENTY of time at night for you to get in a couple of pages on that novel you've always wanted to write!

The trick? Pay attention, folks. THERE IS NO TRICK! You knew that, didn't you.

Sit down and write.

It's good for you. It's fun. It exercises your mind and calms your nerves.

Relax and let yourself add a few minutes of writing every night.

By this time next month,  you could have a chapter written!

Be cool.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What a glorious, calm day...

Today was awesome.

No trips to the mall. No phones calls; NOT A SINGLE TELEMARKETER!!! No doctors appointments. Nothing that had to be done today. No honey-do list (thanks, Babe!).

And other than this entry, done while watching TV, on the couch and relaxing with a brew, no thought about all the writing I need to do.

Not a single word written on 'Arlo and Jake', book 3 or 'Etchings', another short story I'm working on.

Nothing.

What did I do? Glad you asked.

For the first time in ages, I spent all day on the patio, reading 'The Dream Map' by Jason Luthor. I started at about 9AM. I took my time, savoring the work of an author new to me. I love finding a new writer; it peaks my imagination to view a story through new eyes. You can see my review of Mr. Luthor's book on my 'Reviews' tab.

The day started perfectly; it was lightly raining when I woke. There is something about waking to raindrops and cool weather that just makes the world seem calm and peaceful.

Grabbing a fresh mug of coffee and the Sunday paper, I walked out on the patio, savoring the smells and sounds of a soft Texas drizzle. The coffee tasted extra bold, the Comics were extra funny and I even read the front section of the Dallas Morning News.

Then I grabbed my Android tablet and loaded up the Kindle App. I spent the rest of the day playing in a realm of Sword, Sorcery and Dragons. It was wonderful.

Next week is a new chance to write. A fresh set of moments to let my imagination roam and play. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

My wish for you is a fresh set of moments and the desire to embrace your challenges.

Be cool.
Be happy.
Just Be!




Monday, June 9, 2014

Now that's more like it!

I just passed 15,000 words on book 3 of my 'Arlo and Jake' SciFi series. Whoo Hoo!

I've been pushing myself nights to move this story forward. I really want to get book 3 published this month! But it's been a real struggle some nights.

Part of the problem is that I want this book to be better than the first two. I want a really satisfying, interesting plot, better dialog, more laughs and guffaws but with a great adventure story. Not too much to ask, is it? ;-)

The first book was short, meant to be an novelette to introduction the series and give readers a taste of what's to come.

Book two brought in some more characters, including a nasty antagonist with his own back story. Taash and the D'bak bring some evil interest into the story line.

In book three, I want to explore and enhance everything in this series!

Therein lies the rub! ;-) I've been pulling what little hair I have left going over and over the story and dialog, trying a plot twist here and a pun there. It's been a real challenge.

But this weekend I used the old backup trick that's got me past this 'problem' before. I read, re-read and re-read the story, out loud, from the beginning to the end, over and over. Each time I found the little glitches and fixed them. Until I made it all the way through without any major hiccups. I still have little places to improve but I just marked them with 'XXX need this there' comments and moved on.

It feels great! Now on to the mid-point of the story! Yaaahhhhhhh.....!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Blog shuffle!

I just added 2 pages to the blog, 'Genome the novel' and 'Arlo and Jake the series'!

Now I can post when I'm getting Arlo or Jake into trouble! ;-) Which is my favorite thing to do, outside of sitting on the patio with a glass of 'Rodeo Red' and a plate of nachos! Of course, I could do both...

Book Three of the Arlo and Jake wacky SciFi series in nearing the halfway point! Whoo Hoo!

I've established lots of new characters and the plot is thickening nicely, even as I sip this fine red. Now you can follow the journey as I wrestle with new bad guys, new concepts and new ways to torture my heroes.

I'll post on the Genome page too, providing snippets of the story or dialog. It was my first real novel, so I'm always finding places where it could be improved. I'll try to keep you up to date on where I went wrong and how I'm going to change the story to make it better. Now if only Hollywood would get off it's lazy butt and call about that movie option... ;-)

Of course I'll continue to blog here about ePub, writing, reading, movies, scripts and other interesting stuff.

A popular new blog post series I'm going to continue is my 'interview' with Arlo. I have more interviews lined up with different characters from my book and maybe other cool authors!

Be cool, my friends.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

*** My Writing Process ***

I'm really grateful that two of my favorite twitter friends and writers, Robbie Cox and Vanessa Wester tagged me for a blog tour. It's awesome that people I've never met face to face would consider including me in their circle of writing compadres.




I've been lucky enough to contribute to a couple of Vanessa's Short Story Group books. Please check out the link to that site, the proceeds are donated to several charities. Vanessa is a valued critic and supporter of my work, always telling it like it is, which is something you need as a writer. Vanessa is one of many UK twitter/writer friends I've made in the last few years. I enjoy reading her books and talking about striving to become a better indie writer.



Robbie  and I would be fishing pals if we lived close to each other, which unfortunately we don't. Robbie is living the easy life in Florida and I'm still cranking out code in North Texas. We share an appreciation for writing out on the patio and enjoying a fine scotch.

A quick 'Who am I'. We'll skip my usual silly tangents into wackiness and give you the short basics. I was born in the small town of Levelland, smack in the middle of the 'Dust Bowl' area of North Texas for you history buffs. I grew up watching Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Howdy Doody Show and reading Heinlein, Asimov and other 'hard' SciFi authors.



Your can scan the links to the right to find my books, blogging friends and other cool stuff. And, yes, I really am a card carrying member of the Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, fan club. ;-)

I joined the US Navy at 17, volunteering for the Nuclear Submarine force. I served on board the USS Bluefish as a Machinist Mate and Engineering Lab Tech.




I write software for the US health care industry during the day and I try to hone my skills as a newbie writer at night and on weekends. So, let's get to it!

What am I working on now? I'm trying to stay focused on book 3 of my 'Arlo and Jake' humorous SciFi series. I want to release it this month or next. This book focuses on Arlo, a panther chameleon, the partner of Jake Jasper. My unlikely heroes were conscripted into a space Navy to help save Earth and the Galaxies from being aquaformed by... well you can read more about that in my blog posts and links to the books.

I'm also working on several other stories, the most interesting is 'Etchings'. This a ghost (I just can't get used to saying 'paranormal', even though that's the latest buzz word for ghost ;-) story about a history professor and his artist wife who stumble upon a forgotten graveyard. It's creepy and cool, two of my favorite things to write about.

I'm always adding to my 'to write' list, sketching outlines and story plots. 'Etchings' came from something my wife did as an art student in Boulder, Colorado. They would go to cemeteries and take 'etchings' of the stones. You place a thin sheet of paper over the headstone writing and rub a charcoal stick across the paper. The result is an etching of the stone. It's really very interesting.

How does my work differ from others in my genre? Tough question. 'Arlo and Jake' is a space adventure series with a funny streak but not slapstick. I try very hard to make them SciFi adventure foremost but quirky and funny too. And I think my stories introduce more new concepts than most other SciFi series. It's still cowboys in space, but there are tons of cool creatures, toys and concepts to keep the adventure fun.

Why do I write what I do? Because I like it. Simple. I honestly laugh out loud sometimes when I write a good passage or add a punny reference. I get nervous when I'm trying to set the tension in a scene. I'm relieved when the hero triumphs (or not, depending on the book), and I boo the bad guys when they win (yup, that happens too!)

I write what fascinates me, what makes me laugh, what makes me angry, what I cannot understand. And sometime by writing it, I get a little closer to understanding what makes me, me.

How does your writing process work? Chaotically and rigidly.

Most of the time I work off a story outline. I create a separate text file that holds a summary of the plot at the top. Then I write a bunch of chapter outlines, some pretty filled out, some with, 'crap happens here'. I modify these as I flesh out the story.

It also has my lists of  'cool things that could happen', all the characters and their specifications, places that are important, other stuff that I would forget if I didn't write it down. I have a terrible memory.

I find pictures online that are similar to my imagined view of my characters and rename them. Likewise with cool art that I can use to spark up a scene. The folder on my computer that has the Arlo and Jake books has dozens of pictures, most are naval battles, men and women in various naval uniforms and art that I used to conjure up new space ship designs.

I use the outline file as a reference as I write the story in Word. I sometimes spend hours on the outline, trying out new ideas, new plot 'arcs', throwing things away to try new things. Other times I go right into the Word document and just start pounding the keys.

The flip side is that I sometimes just write. No outline, no pictures, no clue what's going to happen. 'Etchings' is more like that. I have no idea why this story is different for me. It just seems right to let it flow rather than think it through.

Weird.

Then I rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I also read the story out loud often. It helps me find the flaws, typo's and weak sections of my stories. It's amazing how hearing the story is different than reading it.

That's it. I hope you enjoyed this little journey into the mind of a newbie writer.

Once again my thanks to Vanessa Wester and Robbie Cox for their support and friendship. I have a couple of writers I'm polling to continue the blog tour and I'll add them here when I hear from them.

Arlo says, "Bye, y'all!"



Sunday, May 4, 2014

We all have doubts...

I don't think you can be a writer without occasionally doubting yourself.

Why am I wasting my time at night fumbling through another chapter rewrite when I haven't sold a book in weeks?

Why do I tweet my beak off everyday, trying to be supportive of other writers and readers when I haven't sold a book in weeks?

Why do books about sex and vampires and zombies sell so well? Did I make the right choice, writing about cowboys in space instead 50 shades of walking corpses? (Hmmm, would that work?.. Nah. At least I'm not going to try and find out! ;-)

Does anyone really care about my heroes? Are my villains, villainy enough? Is my Universe interesting enough? I mean, I've already got Octozoids, Grockna, humans, pixies and a sentient panther chameleon; is that enough? ( I hope not, I've got lots more characters waiting to hatched, born or programmed ;-)

Do I need to rewrite that chapter where Arlo gets nabbed; is there enough tension?

Can I add more humor to his snarky comments to Jake?

Is Pixie sexy enough to be interesting or too sexy and I'm putting off potential readers?

Is there anyone out there who enjoys reading about my imaginary Cosmos?

So it goes. Everyday, I wonder if I'm good enough to be a writer. Is my imagination filled with characters that are interesting only to me.

To be honest, I think every writer can have a large enough readership to make his/her efforts worth while. It's the 'stick to it' issue that gets us.

Keep writing. Go ahead and have doubts, they can't hurt you. It's really just 'you' pushing 'you' to do better.

The readership will come. You'll start selling books. For now, you just have to enjoy writing more than you enjoy selling.

What else are you going to do? Go bowling? Play HOS games till midnight?

Come on, relax. Just write and ENJOY what you've created.

Be Cool.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My mind is a flurry of ideas....

At any point in time, do you have a dozen or so book ideas floating around in your noggin? Yeah, thought so, me too! ;-)

I have characters forming and evolving at the weirdest moments. Plots that just pop up out of nowhere, or as the result of a funny headline, a TV commercial, even while watering the lawn. (What if the rabbits decided to arm themselves and take out the coyotes? You know, little bandolier totin' Rambo Bunnies from Hell? Just a thought.)

There are times when it takes all my will to focus on the story in front of me. All those little red-eyed bunnies, alien androids and Octozoids are fighting each other for a chance to say something. It can be pretty loud and freaky sometimes. Kinda fun though. "Hey you, get back in line, stop steppin' on the bunnies or somebodies gonna get hurt!"

So I try to open up outlining files for each idea and just let the voices flow for awhile. That usually clears the racket for a few days and lets me concentrate on book three of the 'Arlo and Jake' scifi series.

All in all it's not a bad 'problem'. It's inconvenient when I want to make progress on book 3, but it's amazing how letting the voices out can clear my mind and add to my growing list of book ideas.

I hope you have figured out how to deal with a crowded universe of characters. Let me know how you do it!

Be cool.
Be happy.
Be the Busy Bee.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pen and Paper required...

I've been tweeting a lot about 'just do it'. Just write.

Tweets are cool because you have put a complete story into 140 characters. More on tweeting another time but for this post it's tweeting that brought me to express a basic concept. 'All you need is pen and paper' to write.

I can say it in lots of ways with lots of allusions, examples from famous writers and stories from my own experiences. But really it simplifies to 'pen and paper'.

The Universe opens up when you sit down in your favorite chair, set a cup of joe on the end table and let those crazy, imaginary characters out of your noggin' and onto that notepad.

Maybe the key for you is to have that notepad and pen on the end table, ready for you between commercials at night. I write software during the day and it's a long day. Out of the house at 7:20 and back around 6:30. When I get home, I mostly want to relax, have dinner, read the paper and watch some TV.

But I keep my laptop right there on the end table, ready for the night's writing. I might write a few lines or a few chapters. I might rewrite stuff, outline new books, crawl the web for research or read the blogs of some of the cool friends I've met online. It doesn't matter, I do SOMETHING, every night.

Keep that pad and pen close to you whenever possible. On the bed stand, next to the couch, in your briefcase or purse. Just keep it with you, ready for action! ;-) There is no telling when that cool idea will hit you and you just HAVE to write that down before you forget it.

Keep writing, friends. Pen and paper required.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

First try at 'Genome' scene in SketchUp...

OK, this is NOT the final product but I thought it might be cool to show you how the scene 'matures' as I learn more about SketchUp.

I have to find a better molecule model, add Jack, Frankie and Samantha and of course a neat model of PIP, hovering near Jack.

The model needs to be more of a human cell with it's organelle or maybe just a lot more molecules, not sure which would look best.

I also want to do a video that floats you from outside the room, through the door and pans around the holograph.

What do you think?


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Working with SketchUp!

I'm bound and determined to reproduce some cool 3D scenes from my book 'Genome'. There just a ton of really cool concepts in my book, and I really want to 'show' them. I hoping to spark some interest in the book by showing off the holo-room and AI concepts.

So, I searched around, read reviews, googled, binged and generally spent way too much time trying to find the 'right' graphics tool. I finally said enough and downloaded SketchUp, it's seems to have everything I need.

It's going to take me a little while to grok the concepts and features but I'll get there.  I've got some background in graphing and diagramming tools and I've used some CAD/CAM applications in the past so I'm not a newbie here.

After about an hour, I was able to created a large room with cool textures and plop a neat looking console to one side. I need to find or create a room sized human cell or maybe just a bunch of DNA and molecules too.

The characters will be interacting with the molecules, just like in my book. I'll have PIP's avatar hovering somewhere too, helping Jack or Frankie manipulate the image.

As soon as I've got something to show, I'll post it here.

Have a great week, you dedicated writers.

Have fun.

Be cool.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An interview with a small, green hero.

Me:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have with me today, Arlo, one of the heroes of the SciFi comedy series, 'Arlo and Jake'.

Arlo has been described as a mean, green, gnat-eating machine. He's reportedly responsible for heroically saving half the star ships in the Federation of Thirteen Galaxies, the FTG. He's saved the skin of his human partner on multiple occasions. And he's currently the love interest of alien lizardoid females across half the known galaxies.

Arlo:
What do you mean 'reportedly', Butthead. By the way, if Leeta hears about the other ladies from this, I'm coming back to chew your eyeballs out. Leeta, you're my only love, trust me!

Me:
Arlo has graciously brought with him a cool looking thought-transmission device, or TTD for short, so that we can talk more easily. Arlo is telepathic but evidently, my 'mental capacity' isn't sufficient to communicate without it. Thanks for the TTD, Arlo.

Arlo:
No sweat, Dude. Focus a little more, would you, I'm having trouble with your accent. Tap on the red button to boost the output. Man, I forget what mental midgets humans are.

Me:
Uh, right, sorry. Well. Hello, Arlo, and thank you for stopping by to talk with us. Can you tell us how you met Jake, your human partner?

Arlo:
Well, actually the whole story is classified information, Pilgrim. What I can tell you is that before this all happened we were enjoying the good life on the beach in Port Aransas. Beer. Brats. More sand flies than I could eat and nothing to do but sit on the patio, watch the waves and the beach bunnies.

Then Captain Starla, Nanel and Betzel showed up. Three bombshells in bikinis on the beach; Jake didn't stand a chance. Caught like a deer in the headlights, so to speak.

Me:
So the officers of the star battleship 'Triumph' just showed up and asked for volunteers to join the FTG  Space Navy, right?. Did you and Jake volunteer right then?

Arlo:
Volunteer? You outta your mind, Buckaroo? They conscripted us right off the patio of Jake's beach house. Whoosh. One minute we were basking in the hot Texas sun, the next we were floating in an over-sized Jacuzzi filled with slimy goo in the Triumph's medical lab.

Course, we didn't know at the time that the goo would reset our DNA and mess with our grey matter. I don't think Jake handled it all that well either. Being buck naked in a tub of bubbling goop, staring out at Pixie, was a shock to say the least.

Me:
'Pixie'?

Arlo:
Yeah. Lieutenant Tillet. She's a Spritezoid and Captain Starla's right hand gal. Petite, pink haired bundle of energy. Jake gave her the nickname 'Pixie'. You'll see why in the story. Anyway, she was assigned to help Jake and I get indoctrinated into the fleet.

Me:
Wow, getting transported onto a star ship must have been awesome, Arlo!

Arlo:
Actually, the whole 'scoop me up and drop me into a bucket of goo' scared me, uh, witless. And at that point, I didn't have a lot of wits to spare!

Me:
What do you mean?

Arlo:
Dude! I'm a Panther Chameleon. You know, 'Furcifer Pardalis'. Back then, my noggin' was still filled with 'oooh, tasty flies' and 'hmm gotta find a place to go bad. eh, this spot will do'. Get it? Little ole me was still a happy, carefree, dumb as a stump lizard, who just got snapped up and dumped into a bowl of bubbling buffalo snot.

Me:
I see. So when did you become 'aware', so to speak.

Arlo:
Really? You want to give away all the good stuff in this interview? You're dumber than a pine post, man.

Me:
Sorry, wasn't thinking. So. Let's wrap up this interview on a positive note, shall we? In book one, 'Arlo and Jake Enlist', we read how you and Jake enlist to fight for Earth and other planets against the evil 'Galactic Houses of Aquinoxous' or GHA. This alien federation is scouring the galaxies, wiping out all terran life forms, and then 'aquaforming' the planets for colonization. They are led by the warrior 'Octozoid' species. Huge, tentacled... ah... well the reader will find out in book one.

Arlo:
That's right. We kick some Octozoid butt, man, and ... ooops, almost gave away the goods myself! Let's just say me and Jake have a bang up adventure, meet some sweet girls and, well, we are 'heroes' after all.

Gotta run. Just got a message from the Triumph, there's some trouble in the T'otCeeRoll galaxy, all leave has been cancelled. We can chew the fat next time I'm in the neighborhood.

Me:
That's too bad... Oh, he's gone. Nice trick. I thought chameleons were slow. Huh.

Well, that's it, folks. I've extended a invitation to all the crew of the Triumph to stop by whenever they pass this way.

Till next time.
Be cool.
Be happy.
Be the Bee.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Outlining is a pain!

How much time have you spent outlining your current block buster novel? Couple 'a days? A few weeks? More?

I'm working on the outline for book 3 of the 'Arlo and Jake' humorous SciFi series. It's a bitch. A cold-eyed, coal-hearted, unforgiving son of gun. It's definitely not as much fun as writing the story. It's kicking my ass and I'm sore. I had a good bit of it done and it's doo-doo. I have to rethink at least half of it. Arlo was not a happy camper with his parts, not enough wise cracking or adventure.

It amazes me how much blood, sweat and beer it takes to sketch out a good story. It should just flow like wine from my imagination, right? I hear and read about writers that sit down and just 'let the characters tell me their story'. Really?

For me it's more like digging molasses out of a jar with a toothpick. My characters are laughing at me the whole time. 'Why should we tell you anything? It's your demented imagination, we just live here!'

Don't get me wrong, it's the right way, at least for me, to write. I've tried doing without; just letting my Muse take over and go with the creative energy sort of thing. Doesn't work all that well for me.
Sigh. I'm one of those 'slough through the brambles, choosing every wrong path possible until I find a clear way through the thorns' kind of guy.

If there is a stupid plot twist possible, I'll find it. I'll work it hard for days until I finally see that it's not going to work. Most of the time, I can't even remember why I choose this slant over any other more likely one. I'm thick, slow and prone to dumb ideas.

But. Without the outline, I'd be wasting all that time writing myself into corners and throwing away all that fine literature!  At least with the outline I can 'see' where the story is going and backtrack before it's a total waste of time and karma.

Well, back to it. I can hear Arlo chewing Cajun gnats and snickering in the background.

Be cool.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Big kudos to James Paddock for 'Elkhorn Mountain Menace'!

This is a blatant plug for Mr. Paddock's thriller 'Elkhorn Mountain Menace', a book I review on Amazon and in my review section here on the blog.

I love Mr. Paddock's writing style, plot development, character generation, pacing... ah hell, I'm envious of all the aspects of this book. Great characters, inventive plot, solid pacing, intelligent dialog (one of my struggles) that carried me to the very last page.

James has written the perfect book for me. Constant action, just the right amount of twists, great characters and wonderful bad guys. Natasha's not bad either. ;-)

Check out the reviews and get your butt over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and grab this book.

Well done, James!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Making progress!!

I should have a few promo pictures up next week for 'Genome'! Whoo Hoo!

I'm doing a couple of quick chapter scenes to get my feet wet, rather than try for perfection from the beginning. Sort of like doing rough drafts on story outlines. I need to get a feel for what I CAN do and move on from there.

The first shot will be of the tiny holograph of PIP coming out of Frankie's laptop, in the scene where he's just received the laptop from the Geek Squad. He opens it and gets his first look at the small head avatar of PIP.

Then I'll go for a couple more with Jack and Frankie in the offices at 'Magnus Somnium' headquarters and all the employees arriving first thing in the morning. Show my vision of the gorgeous building in the heart of Boulder, CO.

Then a 'big' shot of Frankie, Jack and Jerry inside the holo-room, firing up the DNA modeling holograph with a full body PIP avatar floating next to Jack.

Can't wait to share and get some feedback!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Need to make some cool screen shots!

Yeah, I'm finally getting around to wanting/needing to makes some cool videos or screenshots of both my books, 'Genome' and the 'Arlo and Jake' series.

I can throw around lots of cool excerpts and talk about the plot, and characters till the cows mutate but a single image will do more to entice new readers that anything I can write. A picture gives you instant 'aha' feelings of 'damn I want to read about THAT!' Think about that those posters of 'Star Wars' or 'Star Trek' or 'Iron Man'. Instant adrenalin boost!

So, now I start the search for the right way to create a few cool vids and/or pictures and add to them as I go.

If you have any ideas for the best ways to create images, etc, please leave a comment, I would really appreciate it!

I'll post when I have the first one up!

Best of luck, you writers of the night!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, new choices, new chances!

OK. 2013 had it's challenges, right? You had some successes and some maddening failures. It's fine. Don't obsess about the problems and let them hang over your head. You learned from both types of experiences and you're a better writer for it.

2014 is a new slate, a blank piece of parchment for you to ink with your imagination. You can take all the things you learned from those countless rewrites and improve your dialog or plot arcs.

Settle your nerves as you write and make sure you've got it as right as possible the first time. Take your time. Be patient with your characters. Let them talk to you and show you what happens next. Let your imagination speak to you.

Here's a couple of things I learned to check in 2013:
- search for these 'gotcha's' that I continually get mixed up
  breath - breathe
  says - said
  they're - their - there
  your - you're
  it's
  comma's in the right places for dialog
- constantly go back and read the story out loud
  I found lots of gaps and 'say what?' in the story with this tactic
- when I'm idling on something, sketch out a couple of possible paths; explore; play with it!
- add 'richness' to your environment
  talk about the characters surroundings. this gives the reader a more interesting feel for the story, something to chew on. I'm really bad about making my environment too lean.

I'm sure you have some things you know you have to do better. Write them down on a sticky note or tape a list where you can review it everyday.

Keep plugging, keep making yourself better. Your readers WILL be able to tell and so will you.

Keep writing, Buckaroos!

Happy 2014!