On another note.
Happy first day of spring!
And it is time to start working the conventions again! Looking forward to getting my Science Fiction on at NorwesCon 2016 this weekend.
On another note.
Happy first day of spring!
From the pages of "Getting Your Inspiration From Life" a flock of wild turkeys wandered through downtown, stopping to peer into the City Hall, police station, and the library. What on earth could they be doing?
Social media has revitalized certain forms of storytelling. Most conversational posts are already set up like a play, with only the dialogue and a few emoting signals written out, the rest left to inference. This can lead to some fun spontaneous playwriting.
So here is the scene: three figures sit on a darkened stage, facing away from each other; a sailor in his cabin, a nurse with her charge, and student in her dorm. The sailor laughs and holds up a picture depicting the difference between how North American' and Ireland celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The nurse and the student laugh.
Nurse: Yeah, that’s pretty much how it is. Except in my home town we just bake Irish brown bread and eat traditional Irish meals.
Sailor: Does anyone at least drink Guinness?
Nurse: I have heard a beer of that name mentioned. Also we listen to Irish music, well more than usual anyway...
Student: my family does soda bread and corned beef, among other things (like mint chocolate truffles) :)
Sailor: :D Again I ask does anyone at least drink Guinness?
Nurse: No clue, I don't drink and neither do my parents.
Sailor: O_O Not even a babysham?
Nurse: Does eating fresh clover sprouts in my salad count?
Sailor: Is it alcoholic?
Sailor: Then it does not count
Nurse: Student!, now I have to make soda bread! It looks like it would be easy peasy to make allergen free.
Nurse: Hmmmm, there are -OH groups in the vinegar in my fire cider...
Sailor: :( Jeez, it St Patrick's Day. Salad, bread & music. Great
Nurse: ;) Perhaps I will drive all the snakes out of my property. But no, I like snakes...
Sailor: How about snake bites?
Sailor: AKA Cider and Lager
Nurse: We only have garter snakes here. :) They are cute and cuddly. If you get them REALLY mad they will poop on you.
Student: Are the snakes even awake during this winter/not winter?
(And sometimes my folks use Harp in stew and cooking, but I don't think we've ever used Guinness)
Nurse: Yes they are still in hibernation, but the little baby snakes like to sleep in the black plastic in the garden over winter as it is warmer so we have to be careful when digging things out for spring.
Student: Aww, I like snakes!
Sailor: I... er... by the red dragon what just happened? I'm trying to be funny by steering the conversation towards beer and now it's about cute, cuddly, give them to little children, snakes.
Nurse: You are dealing with two women of Irish decent. Did you *really* expect to maintain control of the conversation? Or for it to be making a lick 'o sense?
Sailor: No not really.
Student: By the way, my sister said to tell you that this thread is "a thing of beauty".
Nurse: :) When the good Sailor and I get started it can quickly get interesting. Do tell her I was glad to entertain.
A relative logs on and says something amusing and inappropriate the Sailor, Nurse, and Student get up and leave quietly.
The undisputed master of visual storytelling has set his hand to bringing a beloved children's story to life. While we wait with baited breath here is a little glimpse of a few decades ago.
Giants in the Forest
By Betty Adams
Of course there were giants. The hazel eyed girl blinked at her friend in befuddlement. Of course there were giants. Why would her friend even ask that? They sat, side by side, on the bench-steps leading down to the circular stage. The concrete was tiled in smooth river stone and the atrium was mostly open to the California air. On the stage the plump, middle aged librarian was gathering up her things as she chatted with the mothers.
“I said do you really think there are giants?” her friend pressed again.
The girl nodded and glanced sorrowfully at the retreating form of the librarian. “The story was just getting good.” She sighed mournfully as she pushed her hair out of her face. No matter how many times a day she brushed her dark brown mop it was always sticking every which way by noontime. “Why did she have to stop?”
“You say that every time!” Her friend burst out in exasperation. “Why do you think giants are real? Have you ever seen one?”
“Yes. Why don’t they read more than one chapter at a time?” the girl pouted. “How will we ever find out if she was safe in the cucumber?”
“What?” Her friend demanded. “Where? How?”
“In the cucumber where she hid.” The girl explained. “I hope we don’t miss tomorrow’s story time.”
“Not the book!” exclaimed her friend. “Where did you see the giant?”
The girl heaved a longsuffering sigh and gave her friend, the look. She stood and picked up her bright pink purse and held out her hand. Her friend took it and consented to be led out the door and down the broad steps. They went around the corner and the girl released her hand to point up. Her friend squinted into the redwoods and frowned.
“Where are the giants?” she asked hesitantly.
“Here,” the girl darted over to the largest redwood and scaled the rough bark up about six feet. She looked back over her shoulder at her friend and grinned. “This is my favorite giant, but there are lots in the woods.”
“I mean people giants!” Her friend protested. “Not tree giants!”
“If there are tree giants then there are people giants,” the girl shrugged and scampered back down the tree.
“Oh,” her friend paused to consider this bit of logic. “That makes sense.” Her eyes lit up. “Daddy says that strange folks live up in the redwoods. Do you think there are any people giants up there?”
“Why wouldn’t there be?” the girl asked.
“Wanna go find them?”
The girl grinned and held out her hand. Their moms would be talking to the librarian for lots of minutes. Plenty of time to find their own big friendly giant.
A properly fleshed out character needs more than eye and hair color, backstory, and a cool ancestral weapon. No, to read as fully human a character needs hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A pampered young aristocrat, with their life planned out for them generations in advance might long for adventure and wandering, but for most characters (if they don't have one yet) there is a longing for a home of their own. A place in the world customized to their needs. This is exemplified in the trending #MyDreamHouseHas. Everyone (or nearly so) wants a place or a situation to call their own. For more nomadic types this urge can be fulfilled by a group of people, or a general geographical area but the urge is there in all, a primal need for territory.
So what sort of dream home is your character looking for?
During a 2015 interview Peter Mark Richman - author and actor who rocked the latter half of the twentieth century - was asked what he did for writer's block. His answer was to take two very different people, put them in a situation together, and let them talk. Take a rich girl and a poor man and put them together in a mechanic's shop for instance. His reasoning was that two very different people in a strange situation is going to create interesting interactions.
A less formal and articulate version of that concept is trending around the internet today in the form of #BestFirstDateQuestions. The goal of this meme is to create a single question that gives the reader a (preferable amusing) description of the two participants of the date and the situation, all in one sentence, without referencing any of it. Two people, at odds, in a new situation,
The wisdom of the elders is not reduced to amusing tweets.
“A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.”
- Frederik Pohl
Alexa is your friend.
Alexa serves you.
Alexa is powerful.
Alexa obeys the voices...all of them.
Early in March 2016 NPR did a segment on the Amazon Echo. This device is billed as a handy little tool that syncs all of the electronics in your home. As part of the show NPR aired clips of users giving "Alexa" orders. Orders that Alexa followed. This resulted in one homeowner having his thermostat turned up, one had his radio turned to NPR, and still another had an amusing but unrepeatable escapade. While these incidents were nothing more than amusing they do lend themselves to more threatening stories.
Someone has hacked your house dear reader. What will they do?
For those science fiction and fantasy authors who have trouble keeping an image in their minds illustrations are critical. It makes consistently describing characters and buildings much easier. Of course not all authors are artistically inclined. One recourse is to commission works from working artists. This author prefers to provide the artists with primitive base sketches for her to bring alive. that is how the cover art for "Dying Embers" came to be. At the moment I am working on developing a sci-fi world where this spherical robot (I came up with it before a certain cute little bot debuted by the way) is tasked with carrying water to and from the great terraforming platforms. The design is based on water barrels used currently in Africa and is designed for pure efficiency. The WC-field is run by an AI whose sole directive is to get from point A to point B without losing water.
(The Scanner is acting glitchy. I will post it later.)
A hero is defined by their deeds. The character must do something heroic. This might be saving the day by defeating the invading alien armada or facing some inner demon and resisting a potent temptation alone in the dark. How the hero thinks of himself and feels about his accomplishments defines how the audience feels about the hero. There are heros that the reader likes, and the reader likes that they like the hero. An example would be Superman or Optimus Prime; always does the right thing, powerful, humble, friendly, and always thinking about others. Then there are less friendly heros, who do the right thing and serve other but do it with a sort of projected ill grace. Take Dr. McCoy from the origonal Star Trek show. A bit bitter and disillusioned but still fighting the good fight. Neither of these archetypes is likely to consider themselves heroes though. They don't usually think of themselves much at all,
Then there is the hero who knows it. The are cocky and confident, mostly young, and very full themselves. Usually they have the skills to back up their swagger. Usually they are among the beautiful people. And the reader just wants to smack them. This is a difficult balance for the author because the character has to be petty enough for the reader to despise him/her at least a little but endearing enough for the reader to want to stay engaged. The newest iteration of Captain Kirk illustrates this quite nicely. (Some say the old one does too.) Another potential is Tony Stark from the Avengers movie line. Both are high powered heros but both have a lot of character growth to go through before someone would want to have to deal with them on a regular basis.
Today a famous social media site has demanded that the world make a #bookconfession. Well here is this author's.
I was a hard core reader. Abridged was a dirty word. If you loved the story you read the *whole* book. So when I read "The Princess Bride" I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find the unabridged version. It was especially embarrassing was how old I was at the time (old enough to know better).
Betty Adams is an up and coming author with a bent for science and Sci-fi.