Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I am voting Obama....

First off, I want to say, sorry for the rant, I just feel this is an important issue. I am putting this on both my blogs because I believe so strongly in the importance of people voting. Second off, I want to note, I am just saying who I am voting for. I am not claiming it is right or wrong.

As stated above I am casting my vote for Barak Obama. I think it’s time for a change in the country’s direction and attitude. I’m tired of the, we’re right and you’re wrong attitude. I'm a big of fan of looking for common ground and goals with other people (and countries) and finding ways to use our similarities to bridge the gaps between us. I’m a much greater supporter of carrots than sticks. Yes, there may be times when the stick (a big stick) is needed but I am of the opinion at first many types of carrots have to be tried. From his statements I’ve reached the conclusion that Barak is much more likely to talk first and shoot second. Frankly, John McCain’s singing (even in jest) "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran..." brought chills down my spine. We already have two wars, one of them very unpopular, we certainly don’t need a third.

I also believe in these tough economic times we need the guy who was first in his class leading the country. I don’t want the average Joe, Jane or George at the helm. We’ve had eight years of that and look where it’s gotten us. Can you truly say we are better off now than you were eight years ago? Are we more secure? Has our standing at the last remaining world power (not counting China or Russia) improved over that time? Have we made the world a better place? I don’t think so, hence my vote.

Yes Barak isn’t perfect (I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Barak, after all I have given his campaign money); none of us are perfect. We can’t really tell how anybody we only meet in sound bites will act in a crisis. All we can do is get sense on how we think they will react based on the traits and personality we see. When I look at John McCain of 2008 I see an angry frustrated man, who reminds me of the neighbor who use to yell at us kids for stepping on his grass while picking up our baseball. When I look at Barak Obama I see a man who still has a gleam in his eyes and genuine smile. The neighbor who would not only throw back the ball to us but also hang out with us for a while. I see a person who is highly intelligent, well spoken, level headed and seems to genuinely care about people and the country. It’s time for a change in the direction of the country and change is spelled Obama.

Next week I promise I will be back to my regular blogging. The story is coming alone nicely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breaking Out

My brain had been in a bit of a fog with my father in the hospital suffering with pneumonia made far more tricky to deal with by late stage Alzheimer's disease. Still when you have deadlines you push forward. The good news is, one the pneumonia has responded to the antibiotics and two, I figured out who the murder(s) are in my next story The Sapphire Sirens.

It's funny this is a case where when I started I was quite certain who the victim was, who the killer(s) was /were and what everybody's motives were. The thing is once you start plotting, really plotting the story I realized the killers and the motives weren't good enough. Each of the characters had taken on a life (or death) of their own. What I originally thought they would do and how they would justify it no longer made sense in this world I had built for them. Problem was I still knew who the victim was but I needed a new killer and it wasn't clear as all six of my suspects had motives and potential reasons.

I love my computer I could not write without it, but there are times when my brain needs to free associate when the computer gets in the way. This was one of those times. I for some reason couldn't just type down each of the characters names and motivations and methods to figure out who was going to be the killer. I tried but it was too organized. Too neat and clean to inspire me. Therefore I went back to my tried and true old pencil paper and doodles. I scribbled down each of the subjects names, their likes their dislikes there goals. I started with the easy immediate ones. Then I kept adding and adding. The messier the paper became the clearer the motives became in my mind. After an hour or so I knew who the killer(s) was / were, how he / she / it / they did what and why.

Now of course I have to figure out how Zach does it but if I can do it he can.

The goal is to be totally outlined by the end of the month and then to get cracking with the writing.

One thing for certain I am glad I outline so intensely before I write as it makes changes in course a lot easier to deal with.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Running Past Empty

My father has been in the hospital for the last week with pneumonia which as put a damper on my writing energy and time. It's also been far more draining on me than I thought it would be. Guess I am getting old too. The thing is when you get paid to write books and you are on a deadline you still need to push the rest of life aside and trudge forward with that writing.

I admit this has not been one of my more productive weeks. The good news is I am still on track to finishing the full outline / story flow for Sapphire Sirens by the end of the month. That means with luck (lots of luck) I will have my draft done by the end of January. The trick I found for staying some what on time is to use my down time to think of ideas that will help shape the future world that these characters of mine live in.

Since I have been spending so much time in the hospital facing my fathers mortality and in many ways contemplating my own I've been thinking about medical advances that will keep my characters (and by proxy my family and I) out of situations like this in the future. One thing I've noticed is that nurses and nurses aids have some pretty nasty jobs to do. How long will it be until robots are doing some of the repetitive gross chores? My guess would be robot cleaners and mops would be first. Ideally we''ll have bed pan robots in the next 20-30 years. Also how long will it be before we have robotic med dispensers rolling from person to person handing out or delivering the right of amount of medication to each patient. This one might be harder for people to accept as a cold electronic smile certainly doesn't match a warm hand on the shoulder but it would certainly have potential to save human personal a lot of time.

A long the lines of something less SFish it would be nice if in the future doctors had more access to more information about patients that they could easily share with other doctors. I don't know if we'll carry our medical records (and perhaps our DNA makeup) in a chip in our fingers or not, but I could see how this might happen. I can see some good coming out of this as we would all have personalized medic alert tags with us at all times. I also see how this has the potential to be abused, perhaps by insurance companies scanning our tags and determining from our history and our DNA that we aren't insurable. That's part of the fun being a humor SF writer figuring out how these changes that are coming may help us or may drive us crazy.

One of the more frustrating experiences in the hospital is sometimes waiting a couple of hours to get three minutes of the doctors time to explain the situation to you. It would be nice if each patient's bed had a little recording device where the doc could record and leave holographic messages and updates for both the family and even nursing instructions. From my research we're still a good 10-20 years away from holographic recordings and I can also see the potential to abuse this but I still feel a system like this could help dissimulate information which to me is what progress is all about.

Pondering matters like this (as well as anti-aging technologies) not only keeps my mind busy but hopefully also makes my writing more interesting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Expanding Readership

Viral Marketing without a budget

These days when you are "midlist" at best it's important for writers to do that they can do to reach potential new readers to hopefully increase their readership.  One thing I am attempting to do is bring Zach and company into the world of comic books and graphic novels.  I think as more and more people read less and less graphic novels will grow in popularity.  It's reading for people who grew up with MTV.   Hopefully some people who read the comics will look for books and visa versa.

Here is a sample of the upcoming Zach comic (this one is aimed at Iphones and Ipods as I do have a product coming out on those later in the year.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Watching and Writing

To me being a good humor SF writer means reading other and watching humor and SF on television. Truthfully I actually watch more TV than I do reading.  Don't know if it's because I am lazy but I prefer to think it's because I want to branch out into TV.  No matter what the reason, watching certain shows on TV does give me good ideas for both jokes and how I want my writing to flow.  Plus it allows me to relax my mind and to get away from typing for a while.  It's another part of my job.

 So yes I consider watching Heros and Sarah Connor Chronicles and Chuck and Big Bang Theory work.  Fun work for the most part but work nonetheless.  By seeing what works for these shows and doesn't work for these shows I can learn what works for me and what I should avoid.

For instance I still enjoy watching Heroes but they tend to throw too many characters at us without a lot happening sometimes and with too much happening other times.  I also think sometimes they make the characters act less intelligent than they should in order to move the plot forward.  This is something I try to avoid.  Not sure if I succeed  but I try.  

I also learn a lot from The Big Bang Theory as I figure the guys on that show would be fans of my writing as they love talking about video games and comic books.  Plus it is fun for me to see how other people depict people who are more comfortable dealing with machines than other people as they try to deal with other people.  Plus I have to admit I am a geek.  

By entertaining myself I believe that makes me a happier and better writer.  After all, part of my theory on writing is, Write what you like and others will like it too.  Watching (and reading) others people's writing helps me learn more about what I like and don't like and therefore hopefully not only makes me happier but a better writer.

On that note: who the heck decided to put so many of the shows I really like on Monday and leave other nights so empty?  Fox please more Terminator (well Sarah Connor) to Wednesdays.  Team it Bones again or something.  


Friday, October 3, 2008

Future Imperfect

Part of my "role" as a humorous SF writer is to look at the world or today and see how it will be different tomorrow. By tomorrow I mean ten, twenty, thirty and more years from now.

The way I attempt to do that is by looking back twenty years ago to the 80s (yes the 80s where twenty years ago) and trying to figure out what we didn't have then but we somehow can't live without now. Then I try to semi-extrapolate that into the future. Yes it's not a exact science. Heck it's not even a pseudo science. Still this "guestament of the future" is how I roll.

I also try to tackle SF from the human behavior side... Why we do what we do...

First things that spring to mind while driving my son to school are cell phones. Dang, almost everybody has one and is on it, even when they shouldn't be. Twenty years ago, hardly any of us had cell phones yet we all did just fine. Today though having a cell phone is almost considered a necessity. I'm not really sure why. It's as if we don't want to be alone with our own thoughts. Or who knows maybe cell phones in some cases give us a sense of importance? It's like "I am so vital in what I do I must constantly be in communication with those around me so they can be better informed therefore I better about myself also." I'm not sure if this is the case but why else would be people risk their lives and others by talking or worse texting on cell phone while driving.

Whatever the case it has become increasing clear to me that as the future progresses we're going to want even more ways to communication with more people faster. This dialing a cell phone is going to become too time wasting. Even saying, "call home" takes like two seconds, two seconds the busy me of the future what be able to waste. That means to really make things better we're going to communication devices that either read or minds or based on our current situation or actions make the calls we want to make a split nanosecond before we know we want or need to make them.

Is this scientifically feasible? Without looking it I'd have to say probably. Truth be told, I don't actually think it's my job as a writer to come up with the science itself. It is my job to entertain with that science. When I think about all the possibilities that present themselves with communication devices that anticipate our needs I find that quite entertaining therefore I am going to run it.

Next post I'll talk about this little fad we call the Internet and how it may interact and be a part of our lives in the future. (I am trying to keep my posts small.)

Your thoughts are always appreciated....