Small Talk with a Wave

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Our neighbor came over last night to offer us some fresh peaches. We were grateful, because we sure do love peaches. I answered the door, and if it had remained a conversation between the two of us, it would have been a pretty straightforward exchange.

“Would you like some peaches?” My neighbor would have asked.

“We would love some peaches!” I would exclaim.

I would take the peaches, thank my neighbor, and call it a pleasant conversation.

But my wife came to the door with me, and once the peaches passed from my neighbor’s hand to my own, the small talk commenced.

I am not an expert on small talk. I seldom, if ever engage in this alien form of communication. It baffles me, actually. If small talk is a muscle in your body, mine is woefully undeveloped. My wife, however, has a small talk muscle of Herculean strength. So, when the small talk commenced, I exited the scene, because that is what I do. Someone who doesn’t small talk is usually uncomfortable around those who do. I just sit there, trying to think of something to say with a constipated look on my face from the strain of exercising mental muscles I do not possess.

I don’t think I’m an unfriendly person (well, I’m at least not openly hostile). I just think a good conversation can normally be condensed into one word: “Hey!”

H = How are you?

E = Everything’s fine.

Y= Yes, we should definitely talk again soon.

The beautiful thing about the “Hey Conversation,” is that you don’t actually have to say the words. A wave is the sign language version of the “Hey Conversation.” And if your hands are busy, a nod of the head accomplishes the same thing.

It’s a benefit in a relationship to have one person without the ability to engage in small talk. It makes getting things done much easier, like going to the grocery store. I can make a run to the local market three and a half hours faster than my wife. When I arrive home, my wife will ask me if I saw anybody while I was there.

“I saw Bob.”

“Bob? What did Bob have to say?”

“He said, Hey!”

So while my wife and our neighbor engaged in small talk, I went to our bedroom. I napped for a time, clipped my toenails, then fished the lint out of my bellybutton and used it to knit myself a nice pair of socks. After a while I thought I would step outside and watch the moon come up. I stared at the stars, meditated and contemplated the meaning of life.

I listened to the crickets and in a moment of deep insight I comprehended what they had been trying to communicate to humanity all these ages: “The end is coming. The end is coming. The end is coming.” Or maybe it was just “Hey.” It was hard to be sure.

Eventually my wife came out to find me. Her small talk with our neighbor had ended.

She sat beside me, smiled, and said, “Hey!”

Which is why I love her so.

Putting Papa Out to Pasture

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My wife and I had the chance to spend most of the weekend with two of our granddaughters while their Mom and Dad were in the hospital to welcome their new sister into the world.

The oldest of their girls, Paisyn, isn’t quite three-years-old, and she reminds me of her mother so much it hurts. On Saturday she was riding her stick horse all over the house. She would gallop into the living room; rub the side of her stick horse’s head and say, “Whoa, boy, slow down. Settle down.” Then she would gallop away.

Later that morning she walked over to me with her stick horse in her hand. She propped it up beside the couch I was sitting on. She had attached a lead rope to its bridle and she handed it to me. “Hold onto him, Papa,” she said. Then she went to her room to play.

Whenever she came back into the living room, if I wasn’t holding onto the lead rope, she would put it back in my hands and sternly say, “Hold him, Papa.”

In the afternoon she came back to me with the lead rope in her hand. She wrapped it around my left wrist, slipped it into a knot, and pulled. It cinched tight (I asked her parents who taught her to do this, and they said she taught herself).

“Come on horse,” she said, and gave it a tug. So, being an obedient horse, I stood up and let her lead me. She led me into the kitchen, where my glass of ice water was sitting on the counter. She let me have a drink, and I was grateful her parents didn’t keep hay (or a curry comb) in the kitchen. Then she led me back to the couch.

She removed the lead rope and smiled, and I smiled back. “Thanks for putting me in the field for the night,” I said.

She looked at me quizzically, raised her eyebrows, and reattached the lead rope, only tighter this time. The circulation in my hand was being cut off.

“Come on, Papa,” she said.

I let her lead me again. We were heading for the back door. “Where are we going now?” I asked.

“To the field,” she said.

“I don’t really want to go to the field, Paisyn,” I said (it may have been a plea).

So she led me back to the couch and removed the lead rope.

That was a close one. I know there’s hay out there. Maybe even a curry comb.

World Building, One Brick at a Time

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I’ve been taken to task by readers for not providing enough information about the world I’ve built in my novel. It’s a point well taken and one I struggle with when I force myself to sit down at the keyboard and starting spinning a tale.

Personally, I don’t like a whole lot of “info-dumping” in a novel. Give me the basics, tease me along the way, and I’ll figure it out (or not). It’s a fine line between too much and not enough, but, as for me, I’d prefer the “not enough” to the “too much.” I’ve put down a number of novels because I couldn’t put up with page upon page of narrative (or pointless dialogue) on why the world the characters live in works the way that it works. I got it, move along.

When my youngest son was a teenager he read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and loved it, so I gave him my copy of The Lord of the Rings. He brought it back to me a couple of weeks later and said he gave up. He couldn’t get past page upon page describing how, what and how often a Hobbit eats. And that was Tolkien!

I remembered that when I finally stopped dreaming about writing and actually started writing. I’m far from being an expert in anything, especially writing, but I wanted to give my take on the process of World Building and ask for ideas/arguments/pointless rants on the subject.

As for me, when I imagine the world I’m trying to build, I put the story first and the World Building second. It’s about the story, not the world I’ve imagined it taking place in.

The story comes first.

I remember as a teenager sitting in a dark theatre watching Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those first 10 minutes changed everything about what I expected an action movie to look and feel like. The story grabbed you by the throat and drug you along and you’d better move your feet if you wanted to keep up. I loved it. Still do.

I look for the same thing in a novel. Tell me your story. I’ll jump into the deep end of the pool on whatever you’ve written and you keep me from drowning by throwing me a life preserver of information so I can tread water. Don’t send me a battleship of information overload, because when you do, I’ve lost your story.

I was once part of a novel critique group with other aspiring authors who read the first chapter of my novel and told me if I didn’t give details on the technology I explained on page three by the end of the chapter, then I had lost them. I let them be lost. It wasn’t about the technology, it was about the story.

For me the goal is to provide enough information to keep readers from being confused about the world I’m presenting them. By the end of the book, they should understand how this world works. If they don’t, I’ve failed. If I have more than a couple of paragraphs explaining a particular detail of the world I’ve built, I also consider myself to have failed. But that’s just me.

What do you think? At what point in World Building do you need to part from the story and build your world?

Go Write a Book

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I am a middle child. Well, actually, my older brother is the middle child, but he is also the oldest of the boys, so I inherited the title and all the benefits that come with it.

Because of that, I spent a great deal of time fading into the background. I became pretty good at it, actually. It’s a talent I still try to use to the best of my ability. I became an “Observer.” Back when I was a little boy I spent a great deal of my time under the couch (I was pretty small), listening to what the rest of the family was saying and doing.

When I became a teenager, because I could no longer fit under the couch, I became bored rather easily. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I had an abundance of overactive imagination.

The summer of my 13th year, I must have been driving my Mom crazy with my questions and moaning about being bored, and my Mom yelled at me, “Go write a book.”

So I did.

The first one was longhand in a notebook (I’ve still got it, somewhere). After my parents realized writing was occupying my time, my Dad brought me a Smith Corona typewriter to use, and I spent every minute I had pecking away to get the voices out of my head. He worked in a typewriter repair store at the time, so it wasn’t long before I got an electric one for Christmas. And I pecked away even faster.

I came up with an idea for a story when I was 15 that has occupied my mind for the past 37 years. It started as a simple fantasy, then turned into a horror and much later into a science fiction story. But the story was always pretty much the same, just the time and place changed.

I finally got the first part of it out of my head and into my hands a week ago. I’ve been reading it this week as a reader rather than a writer or editor. It’s not as perfect as I had hoped, but I’m satisfied that at least those voices aren’t screaming in my brain.

Looking back on it, I wonder if my Mom told me, all those years ago, “Go write a book” as reward, or punishment. Either way, thank you Mom.

That is all.

Welcome to The Rages

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Finally! Out of my head and into my hands.

Three more books in the next 20 months and I can finally let my mind slip blissfully into insanity.

My Book is Starting to Scare Me

Castaway (The Rages #1)

The idea behind The Rages and the Book of the Shepherds has been bouncing around in my head for decades. I blame it primarily for my unstable mental condition. But now it’s starting to scare me a little bit. Especially when I see stories like the one on MSN, linked below. In The Rages, Right to Income is a basic right of life and everyone gets a paycheck just for being a citizen. I thought it was a little far-fetched when I first thought it up, but I figured it’s science fiction, let’s add it to the mix and see what comes out in the plot. Now I’m starting to feel a little prophetic, and a lot worried for our future. The Seven Realms of Man is great to write about, but I’m not sure I want my children living there.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/elon-musk-robots-will-take-your-jobs-government-will-have-to-pay-your-wage/ar-AAjUyJK?li=BBnbfcL

 

 

A Pause for a Political Rant

I am at a loss to how we have come to where we are, and find myself wondering every day what it means to be an American. In the end, has the meaning slipped beyond our grasp?

It’s not just the mainstream political candidates that we have been told are our only choices; it is the vehement, hateful rhetoric that so many people I call family, friends and neighbors have chosen to employ to prop up deeply failed candidates.

Perhaps the most disheartening trend I have witnessed of late is the siren call by mindless followers that a vote for anything other than the Democrat or Republican is a vote wasted. It is contrary to everything I was taught at my father’s knee about what it means to be an American.

What have we become?

I was taught by my parents that it did not matter your color, creed or religion; we as a people are citizens of the United States of America. Whether you were Christian or Muslim, Jewish, Atheist or Agnostic; whether you were Heterosexual, Homosexual, or anything in-between, it didn’t matter. Together, we were Americans.

That America seems to have slipped away.

Now, we vote only for our own self-interest. What will the candidate do for me, my family, my beliefs, my community, regardless of anyone else? That is not who we were as a nation. It’s not what we must be if we are to continue to be a nation of one people. Our vote should and must be what is best for the nation as a whole, not just what one candidate or the other might say to stave our fears.

Ronald Reagan was the first president I have any true recollection of following as I transitioned from youth to adulthood. I admired him greatly. I served my country under President Bush and President Clinton, even though I did not necessarily vote for either of them. But in every president from President Reagan to President Obama, I have found in each and every one of them something that I deeply admire. I did not agree with any of them on every decision they made, but I did not sit where they sat, did not face what they face, and did not know what they know. Once the vote was cast and the decision was made, they were my president.

It would be easy to blame the political parties for the turmoil we find ourselves in. But we need to accept responsibility as the people of the United States, that we, collectively, have made our choices in the past to lead us where we are.

The political system as it is now formed makes it impossible for a man or woman of integrity and character to reach office with that integrity and character in place. Not just at the presidential level, but from the local office all the way to the highest position in the land, if you seek to serve, you must adopt platforms you may find repugnant.

We have allowed it to happen, encouraged it even.

I believe more and more every day that if the America I was taught to love and serve is to survive, the political parties we follow must fade into history. They are both corrupt.

The only chance we have is to vote our conscience. Vote for who you believe will best serve us, regardless of whether they are running for office or not. Draft them, if you must. Vote and let your voice be heard, that we will not accept anything less than the best we are, as a people, to represent us, not just the choices that have been offered.

If enough of us vote for integrity and character, wherever we might find it, we might finally make our voices heard that this is our country, collectively, as one people . . . united.

Perhaps then, we can find a way back from the abyss.

A Roadmap to the Rages

 

The Rages – Castaway will be published tomorrow, and as the hours tick away there was one item I wanted to provide on my website that I have neglected. It is right next to my “About the Author” button at the top of the page and is called “The Seven Realms of Man.”

On this page you’ll find an explanation of the people, places and things that make up The Rages and The Book of the Shepherds. I’ve disclosed no spoilers within, because that would be bad.

I created the page because I’m not particularly fond of page upon page of “info dumping” in a novel. For this novel, if I were to have done so, it would be biblical in proportion. I know some readers enjoy the experience of reading “world building” by authors, but I’m not one of them, so I try to keep it at a minimum in my writing. Two of my sons enjoy the occasional “info dumping” in science fiction and fantasy, but they’re electrical engineers, so I’m not sure they’re entirely human anyway.

I have done some “world building” or “info dumping” in The Rages because it’s a fairly complicated place and I didn’t want to keep everyone in the dark. But I’ve always preferred that an author give me a little tease and let me figure it out as they guide me along the path. I’ve tried my best to do that with The Rages.

Consider The Seven Realms of Man a road map for those who like the information up front, versus a tease. I’ll add to it from time to time, as the journey continues. I hope, in the words of Harley Nearwater, the protagonist of The Rages, that you find it “Int’restin’.”

The Seven Realms of Man

The Vale

A digital version of the Earth and everything in it. Also includes a digital version of all off-world colonies. Citizens of the Federation interact with each other primarily in the Vale.

Outland

All off world colonies of the Federation, including the Wheel in Earth orbit, the Armstrong Lunar Base, Huygens Station in Mars orbit and the colony of New Rome, Mars.

Eurasia

All of Europe and Asia.

Austartica

Australia and Antarctica.

Africa

All of Africa and the Middle East.

America

All of North and South America.

The Deep

The oceans of Earth

People, Places & Things

 

Rights of Life

The Founder Federation, shortly after uniting all of humanity as one people, declared a New Declaration of Human Rights. While the list of rights is exhaustive, the primary ones humanity is most concerned with are called the “Right To Six.”

  • Right to Income: Every citizen of the Founder Federation and member of the Seven Realms is provided a weekly income determined by the Senate. Roughly 90 percent of the population live solely on their RTI accounts. The remaining “10 percenters” are comprised primarily of business owners, scientist and government employees.
  • Right to Energy: Every citizen is provided a limitless supply of energy, free of charge.
  • Right to Medical: Every citizen has access to medical or medical enhancement, including genetic, free of charge.
  • Right to Link Access: Every citizen is provided free access to the Link and the Vale.
  • Right to Housing: Every citizen is provided a home of their own, free of charge.
  • Right to Education: All citizens are afforded the opportunity to education of their choice, free of charge.

The Rages

There are two primary Rages wreaking havoc upon mankind. The first is the Rages borne of climate change: severe storms, wildfire, earthquakes, drought. The second is the beast Rages, which began decades after the Rages of climate change. Every animal on the planet, with the exception of dogs, has turned against mankind. Animals will hunt and kill any human they see and often work together to attack. When they do, it is called a Rage. For decades the Founder Federation has claimed that the beast Rages are caused by a virus, but there are those who believe they are in response to a planet that is sentient, awakened and determined to bring about the extinction of the human race.

The Wilderness

All areas outside of the Hub cities of the Federation are Wilderness. The Wilderness is not a part of the Seven Realms.

The Link

The digital link that connects all citizens of the Seven Realms. Through the Link, Federation citizens can access the Vale or their own digital worlds. Connection to the Link is accomplished one of two ways:

  • Linktag: A nanobot implant injected into the host through the right temple. Through a linktag, a person is constantly connected to the Link and can access the Vale with a thought.
  • Eyeset: Eyepiece that connects the wearer to the Link by relaying information through the retina. When wearing an eyeset, the wearer can manipulate the Link and enter the Vale in the same manner as those with a linktag, but when not wearing the eyeset a person has no Link connection.

Powerbands

After the perfection of fusion and the abundance of a limitless supply of energy, powerbands were created and are provided to every citizen of the Federation. Members of the Seven Realms wear a band that stretches from just above their wrist to just below their elbow that draws power to energize anything within 50 meters of the wearer.

MyRealms

Virtual worlds created by citizens through the Link. In a MyRealm people can create the world of their own imagination. Many Federation citizens choose to spend the majority of their time in their own MyRealm. While it is not forbidden by the Federation, citizens are cautioned to not enter another person’s MyRealm if they are strangers. While no harm can come to a citizen in the Vale, in a MyRealm a visitor is subject to the laws of the creator of the MyRealm and can be subject to psychological stresses that can cause permanent damage.

Fillers

Digital life forms without their own individuality. They interact with people in the Vale or a MyRealm, but have no independent thought. Wallpaper People is slang for a Filler.

Digiself

The avatar of a person in the Vale or a MyRealm.

Digis

Digital life form. Digis have all the rights of individuality in the Seven Realms. Most choose to exist solely in the Vale, but some choose to have synthetic bodies for their consciousness to dwell in the physical world.

Realtime

The physical world.

Blinkers

Citizens with a linktag. When first developed those with a linktag struggled with simultaneous sensory input from both the physical and digital worlds. When they were within the Link they experienced rapid eye movement and were termed Blinkers. The name stuck.

Pilgrims

Citizens who access the Link through an eyeset.

Neands

People of the Wilderness. They refuse all of the benefits of citizenship in the Seven Realms of Man and refuse to access the Link.

ChristGaians

While still a Right of Life, the Founder Federation has declared all religions as cults and pay them scant attention. The ChristGaians are the only religion growing in numbers, primarily in the Wilderness. ChristGaians believe in JesusGod and that the Earth Gaia is His holy concubine. Together they created all life and the Rages are their judgement upon mankind.

The Lord Judge

The Lord Judge of the Seven Realms is founder of the Federation, which replaced the United Nations after the Energy Wars. His chambers is in The Wheel in Earth orbit.

High Judges

There is a High Judge appointed as the Voice of Law in each Realm of the Federation.

Federation Senate

The Federation Senate is comprised of 191 Senators, representing each country that remained of the Old World after the Energy Wars. Each country, regardless of population, was granted one senate representative when the Founder Federation was formed. The Senate drafts laws and oversees administration of the government.

The Legion

The Legion is the military arm of the Founder Federation. Each physical Realm of the Federation has its own Legion, with the Realm High Judge serving as commander. The Lord Judge serves as the Supreme Commander of all Legions in the Founder Federation. The Legion is bound by the Federation Senate. Once approved by majority vote of the Senate, the Legion is unbound and in service to the Lord Judge and his High Judges.

The Marshals Service

Federation Marshals are the keepers of peace and justice in the Seven Realms of Man. They serve under the command of each Realm High Judge and are sworn to the Lord Judge. Each Hub of the Federation has a marshal and 50 deputy marshals.

Scye

Scyes are the primary weapon of the Marshals Service. Originally developed as a digital interface with the physical world (prior to the creation of the Vale), scyes are metal orbs that provide digital input and allow the user to experience reality as if they were physically present. With the scye, a user can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel anything the scye interacts with. After the Vale was perfected, scyes were no longer utilized. The Marshals Service enhanced the scyes with shielding that turns them into a lethal weapon.

Sentinels

Sentinels are automations that patrol the boarders of each Hub city, sworn to protect the Hubs against incursion from the Wilderness of any animal life threatening to citizens of the Realms. They serve under the command of the Marshals Service.

Storks

Delivery drones that serve citizens of the Seven Realms. Anyone with a Link connection can request any product available in the world and if they have the funds in their right to income accounts, a Stork will deliver it. Normal delivery for most food items is within minutes. For larger or specialty order items, delivery time can take hours or as long as three days.

Dragons

Dragons are high speed passenger and cargo trains built upon the skeleton of the old interstate or highway systems. They are the arterial lines for each Hub in the world and are the primary means of travel for citizens of the Federation who choose to physically travel. White Dragons are designed for passengers, Blue Dragons are cargo trains

The Wrynd

Simply put, the Wrynd are drug addicts. In the throes of the Energy Wars, a new weapon was in development by Doctor Elias Wrynd, a drug that would make a soldier super human. It alters the genetic makeup of those injected to make them smarter, faster, stronger. The drug is called Ink because it turns the veins and sclera black. It also turns them mad, twisted into depravity, with a lust to devour anyone they consider prey. If those injected with Ink do not receive another dose of the drug within 10 days, they descend into agonizing madness and die. The drug was never perfected after 520 attempts. In attempt 521, Doctor Wrynd injected himself and consumed his team. The formula for Wrynd521 was leaked on the Link and the Wrynd were born. They prey in the Wilderness upon man and beast alike. Those who have come into contact with them call them zombies.

Welcome to the New Age of Discover and the Seven Realms of Man