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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blog: On Hold

Dear readers,

My blog is on hold while I deal with a lot of life. (1) I got a new day job that required training out-of-town for six weeks. (2) I got my normal tax job where I must learn this year taxes. (3) I got my normal self-employment gig in accounting which will be dealing with the quarter's/year's end. (4) Holidays (enough said).

Yes - I got three jobs right now, plus the love of writing. Eventually I hope to phase out the jobs and concentrate on the writing, but a lot of work will need to be done before I can afford that. Either that or somehow I mange to write the next 50 Shades. (smile)

Thanks for reading,

Erin Penn

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blog: One Year Mark

I started posting on Breathless Press Sunday Flashes on October 21, 2012. I transferred that material to this blog on November 11, 2012, but the flash writing really started a year ago today.

I only have five more Breathless Press Sunday Flash photos to work with, and then that era ends. Don't worry, I got plans on what to do next.

Thank you all for reading and I hope the next year will provide even better reading as I continue to master my skills at writing. Join me for the ride, it will be great.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flash: Pickup Line


freedigitalphotos.net
[Pickup Line - flash story]

“Hey, come here often?”

Debb looked up from the book covers she was perusing at the remodeled book store. The guy was cute in a geeky way. Thin glasses propped on his hawkish nose. Trimmed sides with a flop on top reminiscent of childhood shaves in the Southern boys get each summer. An overlarge T-shirt proclaiming the supremacy of RetroBand, hung past his waist over black jeans. Hiking boots prepared him just in case a mountain suddenly sprouted in the shopping center. He only had one visible ink, on the back of his hand. She couldn’t make out the runes. She liked his smile.

“No, just had to see the new store. Don’t have them yet out in Shelby.”

The man looked around the modernized store. Amelie’s coffee, a favorite of the chain, remained up front, though the worn leather seats had been replaced. Nearly everything else had been changed a couple months ago. The book shelves where slimmer with all the covers facing out. Only one cashier station was up front to take care of people buying stuff. Thanks to the Replicator-Source model, less clutter filled the aisles. Even so, little keychains, games, and T-shirts seemed to outnumber the shelf space reserved for books in the bookstore. The main concession to the bookstores official purposes were the two B&N replicators which took credit and spat out actual books, plus an eBook browsing station.

“Is that a good or bad thing?” The guy wiped his hand on his jeans before offering it. “Cameron.”

“Debb.” She shook hands. “I don’t know yet. Book prices don’t seem different, but I like the fact I can still touch something. I end up doing most of my shopping on-line now and, for speed sake, I usually just download to my tablet. I miss being able to actually hold a book.”

Cameron’s straight teeth became visible as he gave her a huge grin. “Me too. Had to go with a tablet since I moved out of my parents and got my own place, but there is just something about ink and paper.”

“Absolutely.” She agreed. “I read differently when I got a real book. I flip ahead, and go back. I set it down for a quick run to the bathroom, lay it on my chest to contemplate a scene, put it on a shelf and then pick it up again later to open to a favorite section. My tablet, I just read it front to back and am done. I don’t know why I even bother to keep books on the tablet when I am through. I think I have gone back to only one book once I was done reading.”

“Aside from school work, which I am so glad I don’t have to lug around my electronic manuals, I avoid reading eBooks. Pleasure reading is one hundred percent a paper experience.” Cameron saw a slight frown on her face. “Not that eBooks are bad. They are great – manuals need constant updating and upgrading and I don’t have to worry about that at all. I just like my fun reading to feel like fun. – Huh, what do you like to read for fun?”

Debb nodded at the section they were in. “Science Fiction, obviously, then fantasy, poetry, mystery, romance, thriller. Pretty much if they have a section in the store, I will read it.”

Cameron picked up a cover-one. To save on money and space, books stores with replicators where printing covers and the first chapter of books and placing them on the shelves. Saved in shipping full books and still let people who wanted to touch books still have something to hold while they think about buying. The really popular books, printed as cover-threes, were near the coffee shop. Marketing figured if you got through three chapters with your coffee, you were hooked enough to meander over to the browsers or replicator and pick up a full copy. The rest of the store was for serious readers looking for suggestions.

“Do you like any of these?” Cameron asked as he put the cover-one back.

Turning back to the shelf, Debb looked at the covers again. “Thinking about a Weber, he is always good and I love Asimov returning to his proper prominence on the shelves. Have you heard of Kagan or Hartness?

“John Hartness is a South Carolina writer like David Weber, newer. Mostly fantasy fiction along the lines of Shawn of the Dead and World’s End – urban fantasy comedy - his Bubba the Monster Hunter books are classics - but since 2018 he has tried his hand at sci-fi a couple times.” Cameron picked up Janet Kagan’s Mirable. “While he is great if you want something silly, Kagan is an unacknowledged master. She only got out three books before her death, but each one is fantastic. I think her Uhura’s Song is the best of the Star Trek series. The other two are completely her own universe.”

“I haven’t read a good comedy in a while, but Kagan sounds interesting.” Debb plucked the Mirable cover-one out of Cameron’s hands.

“If you can afford the time, why don’t I go find the Bubba Omnibus and buy that for you, plus a coffee?”

No guy had ever bought a book for her before. A few had tried to buy her drinks while she was out with friends. They never got anywhere. Half-drunk people don’t have interesting conversations. The book version was much more appealing. Intrigued, Debb said yes.

Cameron made his way to the Fantasy section, while Debb headed to the front with the cover-one in hand. Inserting Mirable back down in the scanner, the B&N replicator lifted the details. Debb then placed her left hand on the sensor. The screen popped up asking which credit or debit provider was to be used. She ran through the options, pleased to see her credit card had a lower balance than she remembered when her account information was verified. She approved the transaction, choose the paperback with normal print option, and the replicator started slushing material out of the source module.

Waiting for the replicator to finish, she watched Cameron start the other replicator going. He swiped with an actual credit card. Some people were deep old school, while she debated getting the injected chip with her credit and medical links built in. The medical was the real selling point. If a bad accident broke off her medic alert bracelet, her aspirin allergy could be deadly.

A soft bell heralded the satisfying thump of a book landing in the completed area. Debb moved the cover-one to the filing cart for a clerk to return to the shelves. Then she joined Cameron as he waited for his book to be ejected.

“I prefer bubble tea.” Debb leaned against the machine. “Amelie’s coconut cream boba is to die for.”

Cameron gazed up at her. “Never tried it – sounds interesting.”

“Shall I go order two while you finish?”

“Sure, and pick out something to eat if you want.”

Debb sauntered over to the coffee stand, considering the pastry selection. She had a free afternoon, and if the guy was interested in food as well as drink, he had free time too. Could be a fun afternoon. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Cameron approach. Could be a fun evening as well, the guy was really cute, and, so far, not a single slurred joke. Maybe she should hang out in bookstores more.

(words 1,246 - first published 9/25/2013)

Geeking Science: 3D Printer Tech

Artificial bone made using a 3D printer

New type of blog entry. Don't know how often I will write a "Geeking Science" blog, but I hope you enjoy them.

*******************************************

So, you may ask, what is Source-Replicator technology and why do I think it is a “near future” science fiction.

3D printing technology will be the next major game changer. Just like wireless communication has affected nearly everything we do – TV remotes, cell phones, computer wi-fi, the wireless keyboard and mouse, eBooks, pre-pay toll booths, RFID inventory, GPS car directions – once printing technology matures the applications will be countless. And it is very nearly mature.

Experiments and actual use of the technology is happening in the automotive, dental, medical, fashion, food, and many other industries. Open source 3D printing is available for several items.

Where most manufacturing is about removing stuff you don’t need – trimming wood or metal down until you have the object’s shape, 3D printing is about additive manufacturing. You only use the materials you need to make the item.

In automotive, computer modeling has replaced many of the physical modules they used to build. They still need to make a few modules, usually sculptures, to do real world tests. Now a flick of the button releases the prototype, saving weeks in the development cycle.

What makes this a game changer is ANYTHING which can be crafted can be “printed”. Pizza for Mars (http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682194/why-nasa-just-spent-125000-to-fund-a-3-d-pizza-printer-prototype) in development.  Need to replace compressed spinal bones (a common back aliment), already done in Japan with printed bone transplants (http://www.3ders.org/articles/20130813-japanese-patients-successfully-received-3d-printed-bone-transplants.html). Well bone is easy, but how about more complicated items forever on the transplant wait list? How about a working liver? A “printed” one has been successfully placed into a mouse (http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/how-3-d-printing-body-parts-will-revolutionize-medicine). Oh, and rejection? The base is from the patient’s own cells. Bioprinting skin grafts for burn victims, new heart valves to replaced damaged ones, even replacement ears – all happening RIGHT NOW!

That printer for skin grafts – they are making it portable. As in, be able to take into the field for disasters and third world hospitals.

Imagine wearing clothes made for you. Not just off the shelf, but going into a store, getting laser measured and a pair of jeans comes out ten minutes later fitted for your bootie. No more compromising a dress either too tight on top or too loose on bottom.  The next generation will look back and laugh, going – didn’t they know how to wear clothes? Like the present generation, when we talk about a car stalling out and walking to the nearest gas station – why didn’t you just call on your cell mom?

How about getting a car repaired? Have to wait until the mechanic order parts? No more. The wait is maybe 30 minutes if the material needed for the part isn’t too specialized like a platinum plug.

This is very real, and very now. In the 80’s we laughed at the large cell phones, even as we saw their potential. We did not realize all the things that would change with the wireless technology.

I don’t know what all will change with the 3D printing technology, but the writing on the wall has started. Industries will vanish, while new ones form. Medical will continue to evolve, making us healthier, longer – and for less expense – and all the implications of long-life impacting social security, job opportunities, and  recreational freedom.

I labeled flashes of "Pickup" and "Keep Trucking" as science fiction. They were actually intellectual exercises figuring out how our lives may change in the near future.

We live in amazing times.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blog: Caught Up

I can't believe I caught up. When I first realized how much I would need to write, I thought I would be finishing sometime in the middle of the winter holidays. Instead it was only 16 days. 

Only being a realative term for kicking out 17K of fiction. Some nights my mind was crossing and my eyes were dead. Or is that vice versa?

Now to go back to the normal Sunday - Wednesday schedule instead of daily or twice daily or thrice daily postings.

I have only 10 pictures left from the old Breathless Press Sunday Flash. The last one of those will be published late in November. Then I will need to figure where I am going from there.

Stick around, I've already got some ideas. - Erin Penn

Flash: Keep Trucking



freedigitalphotos.net
[Keep Trucking - flash story]

“I can’t believe it! The feds are withdrawing funding for broadening I-85.” Betty shifted her tablet to a better reading position. “Citing budgets issues and projected reduced truck volume, the House passed a bill to freeze all new interstate construction for two years. Funds not already committed will be diverted to increase maintenance on existing roads and to underwrite the overextended healthcare marketplace.”

She continued, “In response, North Carolina Department of Transportation has shelved plans to complete I-485 yet again. – Charlotte can’t win for losing.”

“At least they didn’t stop underwriting the airport upgrade.” Harlan responded as he finished merging onto Charlotte’s major artery.

“Only because we threaten them every time they do.” Betty stared out of the car as they passed a flatbed truck loaded with source modules. “Have to admit they’re right. I’m seeing fewer trucks on the roads.”

“Remember when we were kids and we would try and get trucks to blow their air horns?” Harlan teased his wife of forty years.

She took up the challenge. Since they hit sixty last year, they started a game of remember when. Remember your first color television, remember when you needed to soak pans overnight, and remember Disneyland before Hurricane Hermine hit?

“Then truckers slept in their cabs.”

Harlan nodded, not taking his eyes off the road. “But then came those caps to cut down on draft.”

“I loved looking at the tops trying to figure out if they were living quarters or hollow shells. The companies sometimes put fake windows on the shells, so you couldn’t always tell until you were right behind them.” Betty’s head craned. “There’s an old style now, and it is … cabin space. The truck even has the underhang thing-a-bob.”

“It’s called a side skirt, hon, though I suppose the word is going to leave the vocabulary as quickly as it was added. I can even remember when they started putting mud guards on the trucks.”

His wife laughed. “Yes, follow at your own risk. Stones were thrown back all the time. I lost a windshield following one in ’84. And now every dump truck and hauler has that net thing to cover so nothing flies out of the load, as well as the mud flaps protecting tailgating idiots like me from road debris.”

Harlan signaled as he moved into the middle lane to let other cars merge. “Debris is way down. Cars don’t drop as much stuff, less litter, and I don’t think I have seen truck rubber in a couple of years.”

“In the sixties, there was so much, my older siblings made sandals out of them. They were such hippies.”

“If you remember the sixties, you didn’t live through it.” Harlan quoted the ancient meme.

“Drugs, free love, and bra burning, what a legacy. I think we did much better as teenagers.” Betty said primly.

Loving his wife sarcasm, he responded in kind. “Because our gift of disco to prosperity outweighs getting man to the moon.”

“The disco beat still throbs today, shall I prove it?”

Harlan slapped her hand has she reached toward the console. It was set to his voice at the moment, though with her in the driver’s seat the car switches vocal controls to her voice as it adjusted the seat for her height and weight. “Nope, I’m good just listening to the woman who rocked low-riding bell bottoms.”

A few moments passed in companionship silence before Betty flipped over her tablet and finished going through the morning news. She had the speaker directed for personal acoustic transmission, so Harlan only heard a slight murmur from stray sound waves.

He merged onto Route 77 and stated “Exit 82, confirm 82.” The car connected to the DOT-Fi and took over driving. Harlan clasped and unclasped his hands a couple times. Arthritis made driving long distances difficult, but seeing the grandchildren was worth a little pain.

“So are you going to miss them?” Betty asked.

Harlan turned his head to look at his wife. “Who?”

“Trucks. Semis.”

“Well, they do more damage to the roads than normal cars, so we’ll have less potholes.”

“All the changes and testing on new formulas on the road have paid off too.” Betty commented. “I remember my parents had us do a reunion in ’76 to celebrate the bicentennial. Potholes abounded.”

“On the other hand, I don’t think we will be seeing the drop off the politicians think we are going to get as we go to a Source-and-Replicator manufacturing base.”

“Really? Why?” Betty still was surprised when her husband came up with opinions she hadn’t heard.

“The Replicators are a great technology - pizza has never been better, getting your car repaired and not waiting a week to get a part in is a dream come true. But most of the transport over the Interstates has been raw materials, and source modules are raw materials.” Harlan reached for his wife’s hand. One of the benefits of technology was being able to hold her hand on long car trips. “What we are going to see is a lot less of the small trucks darting around town taking parts here and there. Source modules store better and longer, and businesses are just flipping over their storage space for the new model.”

“I think the local book store has done away with storage all together. It got in two B&N Replicators and that new eBook browsing station last week; now they are knocking out the back wall that used to store all the magazines are setting up two small rooms. They already have several reading clubs and non-profit groups asking to set up regular meetings.”

Light beeping gave the ten minute warning. Harlan tapped the console. “Hadn’t heard about that. … They are getting rid of all the magazines? I thought print wasn’t dead … oh, right, magazines are prefect for Replicators. Need the latest Hunting magazine? Just tap the screen and wait five minutes.”

“We live in amazing times.” Betty concluded.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to work in amazing times. Manufacturing is going to die as Replicators take over that slot like electricity killed the wick trimming business. That is going to leave food preparation and retail sales at the low end of the spectrum, and then a huge leap to educated, complicated jobs working the knowledge industry. With nothing in between. Physically skilled jobs outside of sports is going to go away. Maybe some construction until we figure out a Replicator to kick out prefab rooms.”

Betty nodded sadly seeing a glimpse in the future for her grandchildren, trying to find something to challenge them and give them purpose. Welfare is going to have to increase as there just won’t be the jobs; humans had become too efficient at streamlining what they need to survive. Her retirement was going to be relaxing, but she wasn’t certain if Magnolia, Sawyer and Parker would ever understand the difference between work years and retirement years.

She let go of her husband’s hand and he took back control of the car to maneuver the turns from the exit to their daughter’s house. At the traffic light, Harlan slipped behind another flatbed delivering source modules, these were bright orange and marked with the Home Depot logo. She speculated if they destined for the personal Replications to make stuff like screws, or if they would be used for the main store’s inventory of larger items, table-saws and hammers.

As Harlan made the snaky turns into the mountains, Betty wondered how long it would take before the overcrowded cities start regulating weight limits or volume limits on personal Replicators; the throw-away society already filled most existing dumps. Being able to easily redecorate a house each major holiday could fill a dump with Halloween and Christmas paraphernalia in no time flat.

But, she remaindered herself, people used to scream about litter, and then about ocean dumping. Humans are clever. Something will be figured out. But not by her, not today, she thought as the car pulled to a stop. Opening the door to three screaming, welcoming, jumping grandchildren, Betty thought, today was the day to keep trucking through her life and enjoy both where she has been and where she was going.

(words 1,374 - first published 9/19/2013)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Blog: Nothing for two months

Have I really not presented any stories for two months? Oh, my.

Sorry, life got me distracted a bit. I will make it up next week. Catching up is going to be a pain, but it will be done.

Additional comment from 9/3
Just checking - everything seems to be complete through June and nothing since then. So I got 9 Sunday and 9 Wednesdays as of Tuesday 9/3/13 - plus one for tomorrow. 21 pictures are left for Sunday. Guess I will be posting one story a day for a while. If I keep to the schedule, I will be completely caught up by the 27th (4 more Wednesday and 3 Sundays fall in that time frame).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Man of Steel (Movie)

A little away from my normal posts - but right now I am learning about editing, revisions, and making stories better. 

Some authors say, after you start being an author yourself you stop enjoying books and other story forms. You see the flaws. So far I have been fortunate - except in this particular case. I don't look forward to the time when I react to all stories this way - I hope I never do.

Man of Steel Review

I went expecting the epic blockbuster with typical Superman twists related to an origin story. In that respect, the movie delivers. Explosions, buildings destroyed, flying, etc. – all the wonderful special effects one needs for a summer superhero flick. The slow unveil of the back story of Clark Kent growing up was acceptably poignant. A bonus with the Krypton sequences just as unique and otherworldly as Superman (Christopher Reeves) version. Gritter and more complicated than the ice-white sets of the 1978 version, but perfect for 2013.

If you liked the movie, don’t read further. I don’t want to ruin your pleasant experience. I am going to go into a lot of details (SPOILERS) because this movie is the perfect example of why you need to be consistent about a magic system and world-building. I don’t remember any other movie where I was thrown out of it so often and so far by poor content. If you remember anything I missed or would like to comment about it, please respond. If it will be a spoiler, please clearly state where spoilers.

If I could have enjoyed blockbuster features and only those features, the movie would have been perfect. But the worldbuilding was so cringe-worthy I nearly walked out during the last third of the movie (you know, the “best” part of a summer action flick – the final battle). Maybe if I hadn’t spent the day studying editing … but no, if I was using AJ Hartley’s ABC(D)s for Beta Readers  (p. 220 in How to Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion) the whole movie would have been marked up with D: Don’t Believe. Time after time I was thrown out of the story.

I mean I am okay with the bad science already integral to the mythos. Superman flying, and getting his power from the sun, and wormhole transportation from Krypton, and X-ray and Heat and the dozen of other Visions and Super-Senses. Those mythos were absorbed as a child and part of me still believes them. I’m okay with the comic book violence and the emphasis of action over plot for a summer flick. But ...

START OF SPOILERS …. STOP HERE IS YOU DON’T WANT THE SPOILERS

at least get night and day correct! My movie companion says I should treat the errors related to night/day as continuity errors. I am laying them at the feet of worldbuildng or fact-checking. Since we are using a present-day Earth as the base instead of a fantasy planet like Krypton, I feel the writers/directors should have gotten night and day correct under worldbuilding rules.

Technically Bad – Fact-Checking Editing errors

So the first night-day issue was General Zod’s announcement. They go around the planet and we see people huddled around TVs (should have had more variation in size and “age” than shown) – all in twilight. Kind of cool – sunset around the planet at the same time. The other one (the final straw to throw me out of the story and want to crawl out of the theatre) – The world engines – one in Metropolis (New York) and other in Indian Ocean – on the other side of the planet. Both are in daylight. – WHAT? I mean, they even had Kal-El fly into space, have the planet (half-day and half-night) rotate around him and come back down. That was an awesome way to “fly” faster – use the planet’s rotation in your favor. But if the planet is half-day and half-night, …. Why isn’t the two terraformers under different light? If the world engine near Australia had been dark, I think the action sequences would have been spectacular – reimage the scene with dark and all the light happening around it – the water floating reflecting rainbows against stars.

How hard is it to get time correct? Pretty hard from the looks of it. Perry and his crew are at work always – no one but Lois traveling away for stories. I think we see the Daily Planet staff in the office early morning to late evening. Do they live there?

Other “technical” issues: (1) On Krypton, a broken moon is shown in the sky, yet when we pan out for Krypton exploding this is gone. I forgave the “art” issue. (2) Girl screaming under water on the school bus.  Really bad “foley”. I was going with it as an action flick, tension heightening item, UNTIL she inhaled and screamed again – really how did she get that second scream out … underwater? Check out of movie. I pushed myself back in as Clark brought the bus out of the water – I told myself this was a sound-editing mistake, one of the last things a movie lies down. No one caught the issue.  (3) Zod aged (beard goes white) in the 33 years since Superman grew up on Earth and Faora, his female sidekick pet-psychopath, did not.

A mantra I often use to enjoy movies with a few glitches - “It is art; let it flow over you”. A couple technical issues are to be expected. The daylight on opposite sides of the planet during the biggest battle - well, that is just crap. Like walking into the Louvre and discovering the Mona Lisa had Tammy Baker makeup added by the Joker.

Bad Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is all about making consistent mythos. We all remember the scene in Supergirl as she slides while crossing the tilting floor and we are screaming at the screen – Fly! You I.D.I.O.T., you can Fly! Not very consistent in 1984. Destroys the dramatic moment.

Kal-El gets his powers from (1) Low Earth gravity, (2) Earth’s “rich” atmosphere (as explained by Jor-El) which seem related to super senses (Zod gets them when exposed to Earth’s atmosphere), (3) Earth’s “younger” sun producing radiation to harden skin and strengthen his muscles and structure still further (also explained by Jor-El), (4) End product of years of Kryptonian genetic manipulation with a bit of natural mutation by parental breaking of rules (implied).  All clearly explained.

The movie not only explains (tells) the world building, but also shows the world building, making the mythos believable and real. I assume the Oil Rig knocking him for the loop and pushing his superstrength to the limit is because he was growing older and in power. Initially the scene is dissatisfying because oil rig – pah, he can handle that. But if he was and is still growing in power because of time on Earth, I will happily absorb the worldbuilding.

We see him gaining control of his super senses – I guess that just hit him suddenly (?). He already seemed to have a good handle on the heat vision since the door handle heating was controlled. Poor Martha having a toddler with that power. Kal-el  learns to fly by jumping then ignoring gravity. I remember one comic stating low level telekinetic/levitation ability might have been something Kryptonians had bred into.

The worldbuilding shows time and again you need to be on Earth a while to gain all the abilities Superman has. Then throws it out the window making all Kryptonians are as strong, fast, and invulnerable as Superman. Ugh!!!

How did Zod get supersenses immediately upon exposure to the atmosphere when Clark didn’t get them until Elementary School – nearly a full decade on the planet?  How the heck did Zod get HEAT vision so quickly and under control to threaten people? Kal-el fell down coughing blood on the Kryptonian ship and took hours to recover – yet Zod can get rid of his breather and go to town in seconds? Faora and Ursa get POUNDED on by Kal-El and the American military – guess they spent lots of time in Earth-like tanning beds on the trip through space because they walk out without a scratch. Invulnerability much?

I am willing to give Zod flying since that seems to be related to Earth’s gravity and/or natural Kryptonian telekinesis. But the rest wasn’t needed. These Kryptonians came in BATTLE SUITS. Can you imagine the epicness of Kal-el going toe-to-toe with very strong people in the best armor ever made? Would have been awesome and believable. I didn’t believe Ka-el fighting a unit of elite military troopers – as strong and fast as him – bred and trained for war and surviving. The storytellers didn’t need to break down the world-building they did to give Superman his powers, they could have used the Battle Suits and superior technology. I think that is why I don’t forgive them – they had an alternative works just as well, if not better! (And imagine them coming BACK in another movie after exposing themselves to the environmental features of Earth– sure, Kal-el will always be a little ahead, but EPIC possibilities!)

Bad Character Decisions

Still all of that may have been forgiven (well, I still think the night-day issue of being on opposite sides of the planet is a killer like Supergirl not flying), if the characters worked. Characters drive the story. At the end of the day, I don’t care about the invulnerable Super-Duper can do everything man – I care about the corn-bred boy from Kansas in over his head living in New York City – Metropolis – whatever you want to call it.  Therefore the actions of the characters and their decisions need to work.

And they don’t.

How did Clark infiltrate a military base in the artic? More important, how did Lois Lane backtrack Clark from the base to his mother? Remember she has been pulled off the story already. Remember she does this quickly (the clock starts ticking from the time Kal-El activates the scout ship). Does she have private funds of her own? I know people who work even when rich – if she is one of them, establishment of her resources would be nice. “You are on two-week sabbatical without pay.” – “Dang it, I love to work.” “Right, money doesn’t matter since you are a Lane – make that a three-week sabbatical.” We don’t need to know where the Lane family has their money – we just need to treat the name like Hilton or Mars or Walton or Kennedy. One sentence, only one more sentence was needed in the dialogue.

Extremely annoying is the New Yorkers – I know Metropolis isn’t officially New York, but any comic collector knows the truth. In Avengers, the on-the-ground normal New Yorkers scream, but they also fight, they run, they plan, they move.  These people have seen buildings fall over. They know to leave the buildings, get on the streets, and head for the bridges out of town. You might walk for hours, but you get gone. Unlike the Avengers – the Man-of-Steel civilian counter parts say put. What? At least let them be reporters – with Perry turning around and shouting at people to get the Story and the office emptying. Watching the battle for ever and finally announcing “It’s time to leave now”. No, really it is not time to leave - it was time to leave half an hour ago!!!

The only gem of character action-development was General Zod. Once all his plans fail and he was alone in the world, his soliloquy about being bred only to protect Krypton and her people is perfect. You understand everything this man has done was for one purpose, the purpose he was bred and shaped for. He could not have chosen any other path. Confirmation and foreshadowing in the Krypton backstory and Jor-El remarks about wanting to give Kal-El, his son, choices no one on Krypton make you believe this. I was little put off by Zod then attacking the Man of Steel. He had just said he didn’t have any people left, but he did have one. Kal-el. I think the soliloquy should have ended with “All I have left is you, and you … you chose humans. You are human. You killed my people!” Still, I believe Zod beginning to end as a character and the actions he choose.

The scene where Superman has to kill Zod is suppose to be an OMG moment. Anyone following Superman mythos – comic and movie – knows Superman doesn’t kill. It is the one weakness (?) this god-power man has. Him killing Zod is suppose to be the climax of the emotional journey. Except this journey was NEVER ADDED TO THE PLOT!!!!  In this particular movie, Superman’s aversion to killing was NEVER established. Instead we see him going toe-to-toe with Faora and Ursa on Smallville’s main street with the army shooting guns and releasing bombs. He told people to go into buildings, but bullets ricochet. He tosses Ursa through buildings. Some of the Kanas residents must be hurt and killed. He never debated attacks on the villains – maybe in this scene he could have established an aversion to killing.  His heartache at failing to save people.

Or how about regretting losing his temper and beating on the villain after his mother was attacked?

I was so far out of the story by the time Zog was using his Heat Vision to hold the people hostage in Union Station (I know train station is “unnamed” – but come on, we all recognize where that scene was shot!), I couldn’t care. All I could think about was – Superman, you just destroyed half a city. Tens of thousands are dead, hundreds of thousands are seriously injured, a couple million have lost their home or their work. And you are upset by four people? Why were you not upset before? Why did you toss your enemies through buildings? I.is.confused.

FINALLY
So do you agree with my assessments? Did you see anything else that is bad? What did you think they did right with plot and character development?

I think my problem boils down to this - I have a "Willing Suspension of Disbelief". I worked with the movie as best I could. They just used up their quota. Or as TV Tropes put it I was able to "believe the impossible, but not the improbable."

(words 2,316)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog: ConCarolina Slump

I know - I am about 4 flashes behind and I haven't produced a new flirt for Amazon yet. Several things have dovetailed to produce this effect, but I am now working on overcoming them. Many issues are a result of attending ConCarolinas.

First off, I bought a lot of new books. And I promised the people I bought them from I would review them after I read them. So I have been reading tons and writing reviews. I have read Theiftaker (D.B. Jackson), Bump in the Night ((John G. Hartness), Prime Suspects (Jim Brenheimer) and How to Write Magical Words just to name a few. (All very good)

Secondly, after attending the panels at ConCarolinas and reading Magical Words, I realized just how many mistakes I made with Honestly. It diminished my will to write.

Finally, at one of the panels, David B. Coe, promised writing exercises. Somehow my subconscious has been waiting for these to come out.

Today the exercises were published on the MagicalWords blogsite. I finished the Magical Words book last night and I had made a promise to myself to catch up on my writing today. ConCarolinas turned my muse off and now has reactivated it.

Oh, and the flirts for Amazon, the next one will be better. Much better. I just needed to remind myself the point of this is to become a better writer. One does not simply start writing good material. As with all skills, one must learn and practice.

(Update 1/22/2016 - And have discipline. Discipline is important too. Hopefully I have now learned that lesson.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Geeking Science: Kickstarter in Space

I love space, fictional and non-fictional versions. I love the time we live in. Where anyone can help put telescopes in space. Governments were great for the first step - but now the time is ours!!!  If you love this sort of thing - join the Kickstarter below. If Planetary Resources goes over and above the initial pledge, it will add additional download facilities - which in turn will jump the amount of pictures the telescope can take. Seems the limitation right now is download speeds.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blog: ConCarolina's 2013


Just completed my fourth ConCarolinas and I had an absolute blast!

I attended 22 panels (mostly writer’s track) and one room party. Whew!

Last year (2012), at the end of the convention, I walked away going – “I did not learn anything new this year. I either need to start writing or stop pretending I am going to write someday.” - So I wrote and wrote (as this blog attests), and even self-published a little something-something to see what that process is like.

This year every class gave me something new. Now I want to rip up my one published piece and start over because I know all the problems - well, not likely all the problems. If I hadn’t published it, I wouldn’t know about these problems – so I am really glad I have it published. Learning is hard.

Don’t worry. Not going to discontinue Honestly. One of the lessons is you can spend forever “improving” your book. I want to tell new stories too. I am very glad I had Honestly to learn through, and I want to see what I can learn with other stories.

I hope to bring what I learned through the Convention to the page. Most of the new hints apply to the “long form,” meaning I need to start working on something other than flashes.

Thank you for joining on my journey of writing and I hope you continue to travel with me on the next leg of this adventure.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blog: Six Month Mark

On October 21st, 2012, I started participating in the Breathless Blog Sunday Flash, a wonderful convention whose time now seems past. I still have 30 previous Sunday Flashes to use as inspiration, which I plan to do every Sunday (or thereabouts) until I run out. My first goal in writing.

On November 14, 2012, I took on another goal of publishing another flash every Wednesday. A story birthed solely from my imagination.

I enjoyed meeting the first two goals, the challenge of pushing my writing to new levels. I hope I have produced some entertaining yarns while doing so.

On January 16, 2013, I decided to take on a third goal. This one moving from becoming a better writer, to becoming a published writer. I wanted to publish a flirt a month for 2013. My day job delayed the trial.

BUT NO MORE!

Today my first flirt is available in the Amazon store.

Honestly - based on the January 23 Flash, If You Love Me.

Read it. Let me know what you think. Provide an Amazon review if you like what you read. Let me know how I can improve if you don't by giving me feedback through the blog. - And thank you for your support ... I really mean it!!!



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blog: Catch up Sunday Flashes

For the 3rd Sunday in a row, no Sunday flashes. *Sigh*

So there were 35 Sunday Flashes before I started participating in the Breathless Blog Sunday Flash. I am going to start working my way through them until the Sunday Flash is reestablished, or until I run out of the old pictures. 

First project is to do today's and then the two catch up.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blog: No Sunday Flash Again

(Sad face) No Sunday Flash was available this week either. If this keeps up, I am going to need to dip into the 35 pictures that were posted before I started playing the game.

In other news, tax season ends in 7 more days. ... And then the experiment begins. Am I good enough and, more importantly, disciplined enough to write for a living the other 9 months out of the year?

(Updated 1/22/2016 - The answer in 2013 turned out to be nearly. Then 2014 & 2015 happened and the answer because a very loud NO. But 2016 shall be different. - Right? Right!! No necessarily a flirt a month, but just like in 2013 when I completed "Honestly", I will get something published this year.)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog: No Sunday Flash

No Sunday Flash was available today. Hope everyone has a happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blog: Tax Season Final Rush

Today's flash was a struggle. Thanks to tax season, I no longer have any flashes available for publication. So today I needed to pull something together. 

It was a fight beginning to end. My first story didn't work. My second story was better. I stopped at 1,000 words - it will be a good story, but not without a lot of massaging. And it wasn't fun yet. Below is my third and final try to meet tonight's deadline. And it cuts off abruptly because the next scene has Beth interrupting the tete-a-tete - and I realized I was out of time if I am going to function tomorrow at work.  I will need to return to Adelaide and Muin - and may use their continuing story to fill in Wednesdays for a while.

Back in January I mentioned attempting to do some flirts as my next regular challenge. I had hoped to do one a month despite tax season. This has not happened yet. It will, but not yet.

I actually enjoyed today's fight to write. The feeling produced helped me understand what I may be going through in the future when I try and produce some writing as work instead of play. Deadlines will be deadlines no matter what.

Twenty more days, then I will endeavor to get April's flirt together. I promise I will have something longer than a flash soon.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blog: Reassurance

A friend of mine on Facebook mentioned being disturbed by the sheer ignorance and hatred people have shown to other people that do not fall in the same category as their type of people. She asked for reassurance and I responded with the below. Upon a day's reflection, I decided to copy the thought to my blog here.

"For reassurance - there are two paths of humanity - one that builds and one that breaks. Based on where we are (not in caves, etc), the path humanity is choosing overall is one that builds. People that break things believe they are leaving a lasting mark, not knowing what they are really doing is clearing ground for the builders to make something even better."

I have a firm hope and belief humanity does and will continue to improve, and those that try to put in stumbling blocks are actually providing jumping points. .... Please build something today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Flash: If you love me ...

freedigitalphotos.net
[If you love me ... - flash story]

Kassandra kept her back to the whiny drone of her boyfriend, digging her hands deeper into the suds. Finally the line “If you loved me, you would …” pushed her over the edge into interrupting his self-serving pleading.

“Stop! Just stop the fuck right there.” She said shaking the bubbles from her hands into the sink before grabbing the towel.

She turned around to see Dewayne’s startled expression. At least he had stopped talking.

“Do you know the last I heard that line ‘If you loved me’?” Kassandra asked as she threw the towel aside. “Two hours ago … at the grocery store. You son tried to pull that on me to give him candy. No way was I going to deal with him on a sugar high right before bed. He threw himself on the ground in a tantrum after I said no – should I expect that next?”

Dewayne’s handsome face twisted in anger. He was model beautiful, although he was beginning to run towards fat. “You don’t fucking love me!”

Kassandra rolled her eyes. “Damn, how did I know that was the next thing you were going to say? It’s déjà vu.” She muttered to the heavens as she went into their bedroom and grabbed Dewayne’s backpack. “At least Terrell comes by it honestly.” She started grabbing his clothes from the floor and shoving it in the bag.

Following her into the bedroom, Dewayne asked, “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Doing what I should have done years ago,” Kassandra explained, “kicking you the fuck out.”

She shoved the backpack into his chest. She was relieved when his arms circled around it. He had never hit her, but she had never kicked him out before. Immediately she went for her purse and cell phone.

“Now leave.”  She said as she started to dial with one hand while using the other hand to push him towards the front door of the apartment.

Always one to have the last word, Dewayne yelled, “I hate you.” as he went down the apartment stairs. Several other curses and mostly inaccurate descriptions about her sexual habits continued until the apartment’s foyer door slammed shut.

Hearing the other end answer, Kassandra closed the door and leaned on it. “Yes, Mr. Nguyen. Could you come by and change the locks on my door?”

“I’lll be right up.” Kassandra heard the click as her landlord disconnected.

(words 400 - first publication 1/23/2013)

THE FLASH WHICH INSPIRED HONESTLY

Find out what happens next in the book
(click on the cover below to be taken to the Amazon page)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blog: Three Month Mark

Been doing flashes for three month now; I did three weeks directly to Breathless Press Blog before kicking my personal blog off on November 15, 2012. The first one I posted to Breathless Press Blog was on October 21, 2012. 

I am seeing an improvement in my writing under the constant push to have stuff ready for the Sunday and Wednesday deadlines.

By the way in order to keep up on the Wednesday stuff, I have written a little ahead. (Can't do it for Sunday because I never know what the picture will be.) The pool of flashes does create problems every Wednesday when I have to choose from one of several babies to let people see. I guess that is like trying to figure out what story to send to a publisher.

Please note, Mom-Hood is a departure from the blog's aim of Romance, but it was fun experimenting with the very different voice an urban youth. I hope you enjoy it. I promise to keep the emphasis of the blog on Romance and Passion. But every now and again, the results of passion - parenthood and children - will work its way in.

It's time for me to start thinking about the next regular challenge, which I think will be writing a flirt. A story of about 10,000 words. You can find several of these on Amazon, running from 99 cents to about $1.79 each. I guess I should make a goal of a flirt a month. Yes, I think that would be a good goal for my self-created self-directed creative writing course.

I will release details when I get one ready as an e-book on Amazon. Now to figure out three to do - one each for Feb, Mar & Apr.