Monday, December 31, 2018

NEW: The Curator

My writer's group, The Hourlings, has a new anthology that includes my story: SALVAGE MISSION


And why is the Curator's body in a high-tech cargo container filled with priceless works of art?

When a salvage ship stumbles on the debris sphere of a long-lost colony transport, they're not expecting to find much. Spotting an intact cargo container within the debris, they're surprised. Especially when they discover it's still got power. Inside, a skeleton in a spacesuit immediately dubbed "The Curator." And hundreds of lost, priceless paintings. All maintained at safe temperatures by an onboard fusion generator.

Who is the Curator? How did the Curator survive the explosion that destroyed the transport? Knowing that rescue was impossible, why did the Curator spend the last few months of dwindling life support writing stories about the paintings?

In this unique anthology, nine writers take inspiration from real paintings, included in this volume, to explore the life and final days of...the Curator.

--Available in Kindle and Paper editions!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Quotes of the Week

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
—Orson Welles

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
—George RR Martin

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
—Mark Twain

Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...
—Clement Clarke Moore

Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul.
—Charlie Chaplin

We have Art in order not to die of the truth.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
—G. K. Chesterton

Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.
—Walt Disney

If history was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
—Rudyard Kipling

Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed, and left for dead.
—Ann-Marie MacDonald

Monday, December 24, 2018


What inspires you when you write Science fiction?

I was invited this week to a local school to speak with an audience of teenage students about life as an author. I now have a greater appreciation for teachers. They do it all day every day. My talk was only an hour and forty minutes. There were about eighty kids who were there specifically because they were interested in writing.

It was a pure joy to talk to so many that were so interested in writing and specifically science fiction. I expected a lot of questions about the process of being an author. I expected questions on what it takes day in and day out, of being a full-time author.
The kids surprised me.

They wanted to know about science fiction specifically. Mostly they wanted to know about the added level of inspiration required to build the worlds, to create the future, to form the entire setting, in addition to all the challenges of merely writing a story.
Even though I cautioned them that writing was more about discipline than inspiration, they persisted in the desire to know where I found the seeds of motivation.

My list surprised me as much as them.

First and foremost on my list of things that inspire my writing of science fiction is real science. If I look closely, the real science is just as amazing as science fiction.

As an example, let’s look at gravity. 90% of people don’t understand gravity at all. People think that when astronauts are floating weightless in the International Space Station, it is because there is no gravity present. This is not true. There is lots of gravity. There is enough gravity to keep the ISS in orbit around the Earth, enough to keep the moon in orbit. They are only weightless because they are in freefall toward the Earth. They are falling straight toward the center of the Earth. They also happen to be traveling so fast that, as they fall, the curve of the Earth also falls away. Like a dropping elevator that never reaches the bottom. This is why they are weightless.

This is only one tiny example of inspiration from real science. Topics like Artificial Intelligence, robotics, computers, genetics, even sciences involving archeology, biology, and medicine. The topics are endless in Real Science.

Reading is another vast area of inspiration for me. I write what I love to read. I saw students that were big readers. They were the ones most interested in becoming writers. Reading is the single most important tool for writing.

Movies are also a huge inspiration for writing. Science fiction movies have always been a favorite of mine. No surprise there. We talked about the themes and plots of films like Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Blade Runner, Star Wars and even modern Marvel Comics movies. The best movies are about relatable characters in extraordinary situations. The addition of the visual aspect of film was also discussed. A picture paints a 1,000 words, and a film paints 100,000.

Television is another inspiration. The long form of storytelling when it’s done well. We talked about the excellent TV series, The Expanse. We discussed how in addition to great plots, characters, and setting, it goes to great lengths to get the science right. I am a firm believer in bringing the science back into science fiction.

I even find a lot of inspiration in Art and Photography. A single image can set my imagination on fire. It is one of the reasons I find that covers of science fiction books are so important. When done right, at a glance they can begin to tell fantastic stories, ask impossible questions or hint at hidden secrets. They make the potential reader want to know more.

Music was also discussed as a source of inspiration. I confessed to them that I create playlists that set the tone for a book or a scene. For me, music can invoke an emotion, making it easier to write about topics like love and loss, even action adventure. Just queue up the right playlist for the chapter you are working on.

The final and maybe the most crucial insight these young people discussed is that everyday life is full of inspiration they can use. Even if they write science fiction.  Every one of my books includes simple aspects like coffee, bacon and good bourbon. Travel is good fuel for ideas. Experiencing different cultures and the challenges of everyday life.

I walked away full of inspiration from talking with kids I don’t even know.

Maybe our world has a chance for a better future…

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Quotes of the Week

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
—Pablo Picasso

Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.
—Philip José Farmer

A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.
—Caroline Gordon

When you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’ the right place to do something exciting.
—David Bowie

I am not responsible for the ideas and opinions that my characters express.
—William Faulkner

Revenge is a dish best served published!
—Lisa Kovanda

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings.
—Stephen King

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—W. Somerset Maugham

Don’t worry about what your mother thinks of your language.
—Elmore Leonard

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Quotes of the Week

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
—Orson Welles

No one who loves life can ignore literature, and no one who loves literature can ignore life.
—Laura Esquivel

An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.
—Charles Dickens

Happiness is pursuing work that sustains the spirit.
—Walt Disney

I have rewritten, often several times, every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
—Vladimir Nabokov

A writer is a world trapped in a person.
—Victor Hugo

Those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something.
—Mary Pickford

If you can amuse yourself for the length of time it takes to write a book, publishers and readers can and will come later.
—Patricia Highsmith

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.
—Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Quotes of the Week

Boys think girls are like books, if the cover doesn't catch their eye they won't bother to read what's inside.
—Marilyn Monroe

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
—Joyce Carol Oates

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
—Joyce Carol Oates

Write one good clean sentence and put a period at the end of it. Then write another one.
—M.F.K. Fisher

Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.
—Allen Ginsberg

It doesn't have to be the truth, just your vision of it, written down.
—Virginia Woolf

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.
—Isabell Allende

The best stories don’t come from good vs. bad but from good vs. good.
—Leo Tolstoy