Happy New Years!

Hope 2017 will be good for everyone! Hope to finish books two and three in 2017.

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Poem: What is Dying?

Please do not read into this.  I wrote this in a really weird mood a while back and just read it again today.  Think of it being published in the dying hours of 2016.

 

What happens when you die,

When the day means a little less, is that dying?

When the laughs are a little more forced, is that dying?

When the smile comes less often, is that dying?

When the desire to experience life lessens, is that dying?

When a sigh comes more often than a laugh, is that dying?

When a memory seems more important than now, is that dying?

When those around you laugh and you feel alone, is that dying?

What is dying but the lessening of life.

What is dying but the anticipation of the end.

To live is to experience. To die is the loss of experience.

What happens when you die, you lose the ability to experience.

WiP: Completed draft of first book of trilogy!

Finally got pass this hurdle. Completed the first book of the trilogy (First draft). Only took me a year to do. Reluctantly, I was not as productive as I would like to have been but its done.

I am rewriting the book that I published in 2014. In 2015, I wrote a screen play of the story but modified large parts of the story to work in a movie. I liked what I did so much, I decided to rewrite it, extend it and add sub-plots to it.

My goal is to write all three books, then write screen plays of them, and finally, modify the books to conform to the screen plays. If I am lucky, get Hollywood to purchase the story and book publishers to make the books.

 

From the web: Reading Level of Writing

So I am cruising through entries in an FB group “Writing Fiction”, using my best procrastination techniques and I come across this blog entry from Shane Snow, “This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write”. This article talks about how many of our great writers write at a middle school level for readability. This translates into higher comprehension and more enjoyment for the reader.

Basically don’t try to write to impress with big words that takes the average reader out of the story. If they have to try and understand the words then it is work and not fun.  The goal is to make it easy for the reader to comprehend the story and then visualize the action in their minds.  Make it easy for the reader to get into the story and stay there for as long as they are reading it.

Makes sense, right?

It is much more enjoyable to use your imagination to see “Chief Grog, swings his mighty club and with a booming thud smashes the knight backwards. The man flies back into the cavern’s wall and crumples to the ground.”

Than something like: “The leader of the orc tribe, Grog, uses a cudgel, in a round house swing, to impart a massively kinetic blow to the chest region of the hapless armored knight.  The forward momentum of the knight was viciously reversed, resulting in the man being thrown backwards, into the wall with bone crushing force.”

For many the second passage might be just as easy to understand. Some might even like the additional detail but it also takes more away from the imagination because it actually details more thoroughly what is happening. This additional detail, with the use of some words that might not be common enough, could stop the flow of the story for the reader and force them to confront the literary reality of reading a story, than living it.

I have read many blogs and articles talking about how the writer should just say enough to give the read the foundation to create the picture in their mind. I like this goal of striving for low detail scenes, for the reader to flesh out.

Well with so much energy going into a blog entry, I should be able to bust out the last few passages of book 1 of my trilogy.  Have a great weekend!

Short Story: At War with Ourselves

John sighed, That’s done, I am home now.  He opened the door and was about to call out to his wife and son, when two men grabbed him. They pulled him through the doorway and slammed him against the wall.

“Traitor!”  One of the assailants yelled into his face as he knocked the wind out of John.

The other assailant smashed his elbow into John’s jaw. John heard a loud popping sound and wondered if his jaw was broken. A salty taste flooded his mouth.

Not able to think about that taste too much because in came another punch to his stomach and an elbow to the shoulder. Driving him down to the floor. In the background, he heard his wife and son screaming and another person yelling at them.

They were kicking him, now that he was on the ground. He was doing all he could to block the kicks with his legs and arms. Punches pummeled his head. He wife and son continued to scream and the assailants continued to hurl abuse.

What seemed like a long time of beatings eventually stopped. Logically, John knew it was only a minute or two, since he still could reason, but it felt like a lifetime. He knew they could have beat him senseless. Silence as the assailants backed off. Even his family stopped yelling.

Only the sounds of boots on wooden floor, approaching, could be heard. John tested his jaw and found it still moved, at least they did not break his jaw.

“Ya fucked up this time, didn’t ya John?” Said a familiar voice but John couldn’t place it in his rattled state. He tried looking up but his head was still spinning.

“What did I do?” He choked out. Yes, a mouth full of blood and at least one tooth knocked out.

“Oh come now John, let’s not play this game.”

“Please, I don’t know what you think I did. I was out..”  He was kicked.

“John… John, that is enough. Lies will just make it worse. You were seen helping that downed pilot. That is treason to help them. You know the Party takes a dim view of this. Especially in light this pilot was part of the attack against the city.”

Fighting to calm himself. “Please, I was out looking for the pilot, like I was supposed to but I didn’t find anyone. I.. I… Please believe me.” He heard his wife start to sob. His son was moaning “No”.   He was starting to lose it too.

Sighing, the unrecognized man directed his men to lift John. He was almost beyond fight at this point.

“John this war is not going to be won by being nice to the other side. They choose this path. I believe you thought you were doing good but we can not allow these radicals leniency. They tried to steal the election last year and see what it got us?” They started to drag him out the door. The man continued. “Cooperate with us and I will try to put in a good word for your wife and son.”

His wife yelled. “How could you?”

John snapped at that moment, his sobbing stopped as the last strength came forth. The accusing tone of his wife drove him crazy.  He knew they would get the truth out of him but his family would never know it. The truth to his family is all that mattered.

Planting his feet, he pushed one handler into the door hard, forcing him to loosen his grip. Then he violently shook off the other man. Turning back into the house, he looked pass the man, who was going for his gun.

To his wife and son. “It was our daughter. My God, I couldn’t turn her in.”

A thought on Fermi’s Paradox

With the idea that our world is probably not so unique among the millions of star systems and billions of planets, in the Milky Way alone. The chances of there being other intelligent races is pretty good.

Also we tend to discover something mind-blowing every decade or so. Things we had no idea existed a generation ago (atoms, quarks, types of planets around other stars, DNA, etc..) are a reality today.

Having said that, I believe there are many alien civilizations in our neighborhood of the Milky Way and faster than light (FTL) travel is possible. We just aren’t there yet.

Many ask. “Why don’t the aliens visit us?”  Well let’s be honest and put the ego aside. We really are not that special are we??  If an alien race has discovered how to travel between the stars in a time frame that is acceptable to them, then what are we to them?  A pre-contact Amazonian tribe?

How many of us are rushing to go say hi to those that remain? Yes, we like to see the occasional article about them and maybe a National Geographic special or a Youtube video but really how often do we think of them?  Please realize this is not to denigrate these tribes, just using as an example we might understand.

If there are millions of earth like planets in our galaxy, then aliens coming here for our resources is probably an idea that should only exist in Hollywood. Humans are the resource they want, you say?  Okay why? We are rather frail, we can not exist easily in many other environments, we are rather annoying and hard to keep in line. Wouldn’t a prospective overlord race think that robots would be better choice of labor than these little meat bags?

They want to rule us you think?  I would imagine before they “pushed the button” they would investigate us for a while. Especially since we do not have the technology to detect them. Once they watch us for a while, what do you think?  Would any self-respecting conquering race try to bring a bunch of psychopathic, inventive short lived creatures into their empire?

With the ability to gain any resource anywhere else in the galaxy and us being primitives, what value would we serve?  Also we tend to fight ourselves and not just for mating, we are really good at killing each other. Why bring such a crazy race into your empire with the chance they might infect others or God forbid, learn new technologies where they might challenge the established rule.

No, if anything it would be best to watch us.  Like we do the Amazonian tribes with fly overs. Keep an eye on us. See if we kill off ourselves or actually learn how to work together and get into space. Then they can take us over or if not the conquering type, they might welcome us to the neighborhood.

“We should hear their signals.” One might say.  Well think on it.  We have only been broadcasting roughly 100 years. In that time most of our communications is now via the internet (land lines mostly), mobiles (short range) and satellite (directed communications). Most broadcast medias are being replaced. There is talk of quantum communications, where there is no signal path.  With us doing this in 100 years and still have barely left our planet, what do you think a race that can go between stars is capable of?

Most likely to hear another civilization, we would have to catch them in the first 200 years of their space age. After that, then the chances for them to emit radio waves for us to pick up will drop off significantly.

What we might be able to watch their graviton emissions from spaceships flying near our solar system. We have recently figured out how to measure gravitons. Now it is just for the truly big objects in the Universe. In time we might refine that ability. If the aliens use big ships, then chances are they will cause a disturbance in the gravitational waves as they fly by, snapping their versions of pictures at the primitives.

Like the tribes people looking up at the sound of an airplane and wondering which Gods they might be and what would happen if they come to visit. We will hopefully one day track a graviton emission passing our solar system at speeds well above the normal stellar objects. We too will wonder what god-like beings are doing that and what does that forebode for us, if they decide to stop and say hi.

 

From the Web: An Idea for Netflix

An article on the Hollywood Reporter from Kim Masters talks about Netflix and its impact on Hollywood. To summarize the article, it’s talking about how much money Netflix is spending buying up original content. Also how the company is changing the game in how things are done.

An interesting read on the new giant in town. Will Hulu and others take a similar route? That remains to be seen. One thing I think they ought to consider is combining different entertainment streams into their basic pricing scheme.

Imagine Netflix, Hulu or others offering books and gaming for the same or slightly higher monthly pricing? Might even be able to add music in there but I must admit I do not know that industries revenue means as well.

Where Amazon and some of the current choices are aggregators of most, if not all types of offerings in those realms, Netflix and the others should be selective. I will talk about the book publishing idea, since that is near and dear to my calling.

If I were at Netflix, I would suggest acquiring a book publishing company. The goal of this endeavor would be two fold. Find and publish original works and acquire the rights to include quality published works.

My model would include the ability to read online any book that is listed on the service. Maybe increase the cost of the basic service or include that as a higher level service offering. Downloading ebooks or ordering physical copies would cost more per ordered copy.

Downloaded ebooks would be very low priced as they really do not differentiate themselves from the online copy. Physical copies on the other hand, should include additional items in  that would entice customers to order. Something like additional internal artwork, background data, collectible type bindings would be included.

Having a publishing house on board would allow Netflix to help the author’s they select to turn out quality books.  Acquired rights to already published works would probably go for online copy or ebooks unless physical copy rights have been returned to the author.

This service would pay the author for the rights of including their book on the Netflix service for a determined amount of time. For original works, Netflix could use their publishing arm to place in other services as their business needs direct.  The author would also get paid a small fee per book read during the period. At the end of the right’s period, Netflix could decide if they wish to continue renting the rights at the current price, a renegotiated price or drop the book altogether.

I would assume some of the original works would be retained for an initial 3 years or so with full rights to Netflix. They might offer exclusively on their service for one year and depending on the popularity, place on other services as well or print for book stores.

The additional advantage of this type of offering is the ability for Netflix to find content that could be turned into Netflix original movie/tv content.Both the original works and acquired published works could be reviewed.

So yes, for authors, more selective and not an option for everyone. For those that get it right, it could be a nice alternative to the traditional publishers or being a new pebble in the ocean that is Amazon.

An idea for Disney

I sit here in the Disney All-Star Music hotel in Orlando, Florida; relaxing after a long day of driving and flying. Tomorrow, I see my daughters and grand-daughter and I can’t wait. While I relax and do some writing and general goofing off, I thought up the following idea for Disney.

With the craze over Pokémon Go, Disney should create something like that for their resort properties/parks. One of the least fun things when going to Disney’s parks is the wait. Waiting for rides is interesting at best.

What if Disney created their own version of Pokémon Go that only worked in the parks/resorts. It would be Disney characters hiding around the waiting lines of rides or maybe restaurants or parade paths before the parades. This should help keep the guests entertained finding the characters or watching them.

Since most of the rides are themed, the characters around the waiting line could be from those rides. Maybe stick in a few of the most popular characters in all types of rides. Maybe collecting these characters could be made into a game where users collect the characters.  Similar to the Disney pins.

More of an augmented reality application based on a WIFI network. This could also have a social network perspective, to keep people always thinking about Disney. Maybe even simple glasses that are Bluetooth enabled to the guest’s phone. This will keep the user from having to hold the phone. They could just look around with the glasses.

Log Lines for My Projects

So I have hit a writer’s block on my “When Atlantis Fell” novel. Instead of continuing to stare at the screen and hope the novel will write itself, I decided to try something else.

I have a few projects I am working on. Mostly at lunch, when I am bored of the Atlantis story or when I day-dream about the one of the stories and I just have to write something.

My exercise today will be around Log Lines. Why not try out a few log lines for each of the current works. A log line being a short 20-60 word description for the story. These are the first things that agents and producers would look at.  For many folks, consider it the elevator pitch.

While most of these are not ready for prime time, if any of them really strike you, please let me know.  Maybe the Atlantis stories are not the ones I should be primarily working on.

Title: When Atlantis Fell    (trilogy)

Book 1: A squadron commander becomes the unlikely leader of a break away colony from war ravaged Atlantis. The problem is Atlantis is not willing to let go and sends his rival to hunt him and the rebels down.

Book 2: The rebuilding of Atlantis brings about the death of many old ways. Some in the military believe that includes the emperor and the remnants of those who pushed for peace. The fiery commander who chased down rebels, will now lead the fight with the old guard.

Book 3: With the destruction of Atlantis and the new government installed at Luxa, the job of hunting down and retaking the rebel colonies is given to Jana. The rebels know Luxa will not let them go and decide to band together to attack Luxa before they are too strong.

Title: WormHole Earth Universe, no title yet.

She was just an astrophysicist working for the Explorer’s Guild, mapping out new star systems. Until she vaguely remembers discovering an alien race. Then her world becomes a desperate race to remember what happened and, hopefully, why someone wants to kill her.

Title: Empire Earth – working title.

Earth’s supposed friends are not so friendly, as found out by a young scientist on his way to a galactic academy for new space faring races. Unable to mind his own business, the scientist struggles to find a way to get a message back to warn Earth.

Title:  Saviors

They came and slapped Earth into order. They taught us many technologies and let us explore the nearby systems. Then the truth came out. They were running from a more powerful race and we were just cannon fodder to slow the enemy down. Until we decided not to be.

Title: The Last Artist

In the world of Kotor, artist can create masterpieces of magical power. Each one takes part of their soul and after the last one is made, they die. In time, unscrupulous nobles made artists create masterpieces for them with no concern for the artist’s life. So they went into hiding. One young swordmaker was discovered. He and his companions decided to stand and fight rather than run and hide.

Poem: The Artist Takes Over

The gentle sounds of the piano caress my soul,
 A steady beat softly mixing sorrow and passion.

The beat drones on, the anticipation of the singer's mark,
 Rising as I imagine her voice carrying me along.

Timidly she starts, her eyes darting to and fro,
 Licking her lips, on the cusp of faltering.

Then the moment passes. 

Her voice grows stronger, the artist takes over.

The nervousness of singing for her lover banished.
 The artist takes over.