Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Robot Nurses and Tractor Beam May Be Here Soon

In another example of Star Trek influencing real-life technology/research, NASA is spending $100,000 to analyze tractor beam techniques at its Goddard Space Flight center.  The article referenced discusses past research and intial successes with "optical tweezers" that can trap objects in small lasers.  Near-future applications could include installation of such devices on rovers to be sent to other worlds or deep space probes - allowing them to collect samples that otherwise would not be obtainable.  Personally, I like the idea of the "optical tweezers."  This could be a good term/technology for writers to use, especially if they want a credible tech basis for their writing.  When I first heard it, I was thinkinging mainly about healthcare applications - like optical surgery, but you make your own decisions.

Speaking of healthcare, Roomba owners might find this interesting.  Toyota and iRobot has developed a home-use "robot nurse" named Ava which could be available for purchase as early as 2013.  I must admit that the video attached to the article isn't exactly something to ooh and ah about.  Ava looks like a mobile broomstick/post with a tablet computer on top.  That tablet would seem to be the key as the iRobot CEO mentions can show the face of a doctor or actually connect to a real physician.  What isn't really mentioned is that this device could probably be easily adapted for healthcare monitoring.  I mean basic vitals could be taken with attachments (automatic blood pressure cuff, pulse sensor, pulse/ox meter, respiration...) that are currently used by medical professionals.

The robot article also shows an example of another device attached to a patient's leg from the knee to the foot.  The caption shows the device as something that could help patients walk, but not just by giving support and possible muscle enhancements.  Patients who undergo knee surgery could use this device as part of their rehab and reduce the time needed with a physical therapist.

I've discussed bigger examples of this type of technology in my Iron Man 1/2 post last year.  One thing I find interesting is the size difference between the device shown in the post developed last year and the picture of the device on the person's leg.  While there are obvious differences in functionality, it's still interesting how much more streamline the medical device is and it's technology is only one year newer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The World Is Ending - Postponed From Earlier Date

You heard it here.  Of course, chances are if you are reading this post after Friday, October 21, 2011 the prediction was wrong.  I'm sorry, I mean it might have just been postponed....again.  You may remember the predictions of radio preacher Harold Camping who said Judgment Day would come May 21, but when it didn't happen, he said that was just the spiritual judgment day.  The world will end more quietly Friday October 21.  So should we waste time continuing to write and edit, or just have fun in our last 24hours (plus or minus).  I mean, I have some work deadlines coming up from my paying job. 

You know what really sucks about this prediction?  If it's true, I'll miss the opening of Avengers.

Sometimes these "news" stories are odder than any fantasy or sci-fi story and makes me think about doing something like a short story with such a theme.  Although, I think it works better for a comedy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Was the Kraken Real?

The answer is - maybe.  That's right.  One of our favorite mythological monsters, and the ship crunching pet of Pirates of the Carribean's Davey Jones, may have really existed  according to an article on 

While direct evidence of this creature hasn't been found, there has been some evidence of its existence based on markings on the bones of ichytosaurs - 45-foot long water dinosaurs that might have been prey for the possible monsters during the Triassic period.  The key evidence seems to be in bones found in one location that most likely didn't die at the same time - indicating this could have been the kraken's lair.    If such creatures weren't soft bodies there might have been more fossilized evidence, but unfortunately all we have is theories and a possible location of the Kraken's dining room.  Following discoveries like this can give some credibility to stories with related monsters or themes.  I mean a REAL monster that snacked on 45-foot long dinosaurs makes for cool stories.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Steel Armor Has Kinks (Spoilers)

Since I had the day to myself, I thought I'd check out Hugh Jackman's new movie Real Steel.  Overall, I have to say that it was entertaining, but it had a really slow start.  Worth going to, but try to save a couple bucks by going to a matinee.

Overall Strengths:  Hugh Jackman put on a good performance to me.  In the first few scenes, I didn't like him or sympathize with his problems.  However, that was probably by design.  Obviously he became more likable as the movie progressed.  To me, the pivotal scene for him was when Bailey Tallet (played by Evangeline Lilly) was talking to Max (played by Dakota Goyo) about Charlie's boxing past and one of his best fights in his boxing career. 

The special effects.  That goes without saying.  They were great.  There were a few views of the star robot, Atom, where one repair weld on his face looked almost like a mouth.  I almost expected Atom to smile.

Chemistry between Charlie and Bailey.  This was credible and not overdone.  This is a mild spoiler (bigger spoilers below), but I liked Bailey's line to Charlie "1,200 miles for a kiss?"  Nice.

Doing the robot.  When Charlie saw Max dancing with Atom, I liked how he spun it.  Making it a gimick for the show.  Smart and funny.

Overall Weaknesses:   Max.  Sorry, but I really didn't like the kid.  While you saw flaws in Charlie and Bailey, this kid seemed too perfect.  Not perfectly behaved and all.  More like too mature, too smart, and too "right."  The kid seemed to have all the right answers.  His character didn't seem real to me at all. 

The opening scenes were way too predictable for my taste.  So many cliches and overused ideas.  While the opening was a bit of a surprise (the fight at the fair), you knew exactly what would happen the moment the competitors were announced.  Pretty much the same thing with the next fights.

Some of the tech that made Atom special also was a flaw in the movie.  (Minor spoiler) The ability to mimick someone.  Wouldn't that have been picked up more?  Give human fighters a chance to compete through the robots.  Only giving that one here because it is in most of the trailers.  More below in Spoilers.


The robot fighting a bull?  Could have been better, but when Charlie started getting arrogant and paying more attention to the cute girls in the stand than the bull, I was hoping the bull would knock the robot through the fence and right onto Charlie.  Besides, why wasn't the guy who set up that fight arrested for cruelty to animals?  I mean the bull tore the robot up, but that guy who set it up would have been jailed for trying that.  But then he couldn't have come back to kick Charlie's @ss later.

Max - annoying.  Again, the kid was too perfect and too smart.  From his ability to speak Japanese to his negotiating more money to the

Atom's ability to mimic was one thing, but his ability to absorb punishment and keep functioning.  Again, why didn't other, newer robots have that?

When the aunt was trying to console Max by telling him about all the toys she had for him to play with, I almost laughed.  He never once seemed like the type of kid interested in "toys."  It gave me the impression she knew as much about the boy as his father did.

Zeus running low on power.  Come on.  Okay, maybe they operators were so used to winning early they didn't see a point in giving enough power for a full fight, but that did make the fight a little anti-climactic.

The final fight, from the very beginning reminded me so much of Rocky, I half expected Zeus to start chanting "Zeus in 3..." 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Editor Picked My Submission Pointing Out The Good and The Need Work

It seems like it's been so long since I updated my blog that some might think I'm dead.  I'm not and here's some proof.  I know that I've mentioned the online critique group Critters a few times.  Well, I'm also using another online group - the online writing workshop for science fiction, fantasy and horror (OWW/SFF).  One big difference this group has from critters is you pay for OWW/SFF, but they have professional editors on staff who review and publish comments on submissions each month.

I was thrilled around mid-September when I learned that my current submission to the OWW/SFF web site, Legacy Soldier Ch 11, was picked as the editors' choice for science fiction and a review was written up in the OWW/SFF newletter (link below). It is a critical review pointing out several areas where the chapter could be enhanced. I couldn't really argue with the comments even though I think some implied questions would be answered if the person had read from Ch 1 - Ch 11. Not saying I dissagree. What I like is that the editor (a professional editor) gave some specific examples where the chapter could be firmed up and made some overall positive remarks like:
"These opportunities weren't quite fulfilled in this chapter, but the attempt is still competent, the bare bones of it there, and the idea of drafted kids with telepathic abilities, while not new, is still plum to explore. The personalities of the characters are diverse enough to provide great potential for natural conflict, and there are a few great turns of phrase that enhance this (like "telepathic friendly fire")."
And the ending:
"Overall the punctuation needs work and the chapter ended in an odd place, but the set up as a whole -- the plot and the characters -- all have potential; the foundation has been laid. The conflict is inherent and interesting, and that is the main requirement to drive any story forward."

Overall, I'm happy with the review.  It shows me that I'm on the right track and that my story mostly needs clean-up work.  Now I just hope I can get the time to do that!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Deadliest Warrior Zombie vs. Vampire

Just thought I'd share this link.  Comic Con panel discussing The Deadliest Warrior Zombie vs. Vampire.

Book Review: The Lost Fleet Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught

Welcome back, Black Jack!  Before I get into any nitpicks, let me open with the fact that I finished this book in record time.  I have limited time to read, so some books can take me 2 months to finish.  I was done with this one in a couple of weeks.  Now I have to wait.

This story was fast paced and very entertaining.  I liked that Jack Campbell didn't rush Black Jack and the fleet through Syndic space and into alien space.  The time to get the fleet ready, problems found with the ships due to their design/combat life-expectancy, character relations...  All seemed credible and helped build up interest in the characters.  Especially since I haven't read anything about them in about a year - nice to get a reminder.

Here are some things I wasn't as fond of.  This book was too open ended.  I know it's part of a series, but in the first Lost Fleet series, I remember the books each ending with a significant event - something came to a close. 

For example - Dauntless went through the story with Black Jack getting use to being in command of a fleet suffering from hero-worship while dealing with his own issues and losses.  The book ended with a climactic battle.  While the reader knew the series would continue, there was a feeling of closure for that part of the story.

The trickery/politics involved were entertaining.  The concerns that the end of the war with the Syndics causing a rift within the alliance seemed completely credible.  I was actually drafting a short story for a Star Trek fanfic contest that followed this (with the Romulans friends, there are no major threats, so some worlds would likely pull out of the Federation).

The return of Victoria Rione was expected.  I love her comment "I'm a bitch, and I have to stay in practice." in reference to provoking Captain Desjani.  There's a lesson here.  Profanity can highlight a scene, but I think profanity is overused in literature, especially military sci-fi/space opera.  Jack Campbell crafts an excellent story with good dialogue without profanity.  When he uses it, it's because there's no better way to phrase it.

I would have preferred if this book ended with the fight against the aliens they sought.  The good part of that was the development of an effective battle strategy.  Saving some prisoners was good too.  Maybe hint that there was another species possibly involved, but DON'T bring them in yet.  I would have preferred the Death Stars wait until the next book.

I'm mixed on the development of Jane Geary.  Good captain and pulled off a good strategy (deliberately disobeying Admiral Geary), but I'm not sure if I like how defiant she seemed to be.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Review of Captain America - Minor Spoilers

In a rare circumstance, I was actually able to be able to see a movie before it goes to the cheap theater or DVD.  I think it's funny that SyFy's been running marathons of The Greatest American Hero (loved that show) followed by a group of old second rate (or worse) Craptain America movies from the 70s and 80s (maybe early 90s, but they sucked).

Personally, I enjoyed doing my review of Transformers:  Dark of the Moon.  In that review, I made comparisons with the novel.  Well, the only book I could find for Captain America was for kids.  Oh well.

Bottom line is that if you aren't looking for Oscar calibre acting, screenplay or anything like that, you'll be entertained.  Not one of the best superhero movies, but certainly not the worst. 

  • There was plenty of action without it really seeming too gratuitous.
  • A couple of fun twists.
    • Howard Stark's involvement throughout the movie.  Remember in Iron Man 2 that Nick Fury told Tony Stark that his father, Howard, was a founding member of SHIELD. 
    • In the beginning, Captain America is a bit of a joke (More in the spoilers).
  • Captain America's final line.  Not to sound too much like a spoiler, but there were a few references to finding the right dance partner between Steve Rogers and Agent Peggy Carter.  What's the line?  You'll have to see the movie.  It may not seem like much to most, but I liked it.

  • None of the characters seemed to have enough personality.  I've got nothing against Chris Evans, but he was a mediocre Captain America.  I really couldn't sympathize with the character when he was down.  I just didn't see the mastery of the attitudes you want like I found in Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark/Iron Man, or even Eric Bana's Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Just not much personality.
  • Hugo Weaving's German accent.  I love Hugo.  He's awesome, but a bit underwhelming as Red Skull.
  • Fight between Captain America and Red Skull.  A bit anticlimactic.  In all actuality, I'd expect Cap to beat Red Skull much easier.  Why?  You get the impression Red Skull was always considered a tough guy.  Steve Rogers was the 89 lb weakling always getting beat up.  He was use to getting hit by bigger and stronger guys but he always got up.  I'd just say that he can take a punch better than Red Skull.
  • Opening scene.  It takes place in modern day.  This and the ending scene are typically the scenes snuck in after the credits.

Spoilers below

  • Finding Captain America's shield in the mysterious reckage during the first scene made it too obvious what would happen at the end.
  • I can't help but wonder if that power source is going to be part of the Avenger's movie.  You can assume it's alien tech throughout the movie, and I think the near-ending confirms that pretty well.  Think about it - the whole plot leading up to the cube falling from the plane to be found by Howard Stark.  What happens to the cube? 
  • Does anybody else thing Red Skull will return for Avengers?  It looked like he was teleported, not destroyed.  Why teleport him if you don't plan to send him back.
  • Bucky dying was no big deal.  Remember what I said about the characters not having enough personality?  I didn't really fell a sense of loss from Steve Rogers regarding his friend.  I felt more sympathetic that he couldn't get drunk!
  • I liked Captain America as a marketing tool for selling bonds rather than using him as a real soldier.  I don't know if that's how it worked for the comics, but I liked it.  When he's trying to entertain the troops and gets things thrown at him and the ridicule by the front line soldiers was, to me, one of  the best part.  It showed Steve Rogers that getting his new strength and power didn't automatically mean he'd gain the respect of those he wanted as his peers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not Your Typical Transformers 3 Review. (I Hope) WARNING - SPOILERS

This is a blog about writers/writing, so I thought I'd add a little about differences between the movie (which I saw last night) and the book (which I read last week).

First, I have to say that, as a Star Trek fan, I loved the casting of Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Sentinel Prime.  Old-school Transformer fans might remember Mr. Nimoy was also cast as the voice of Galvatron (a rebuilt Megatron) in the 1986 animated Transformer movie.  Those who weren't sure about the voice of Sentinel should have had all doubts removed during one scene in Chicago as the space bridge is being prepared when Sentinel uses a comment that Kirk and Spock used in several Star Trek movies starting with STII:  The Wrath of Khan, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."  I can't help but wonder if Mr. Nimoy came up with that idea or if it was the writers.

Anyway, back to the point of the post.  First, I found the movie fun, fast, and entertaining, but in no way was it Oscar-worthy.  That's fine.  I've seen Oscar winning movies that I thought were highly over-rated.  The turning of Sentinel Prime was an interesting twist.  When I first saw Sentinel in a preview, I had to ask myself why make his face look like it has a mustache.  It obviously highlights that he's older than Optimus Prime, but they're robots - they don't grow facial hair.  Same with Jetfire in Transformers 2.  Why do they have to sound older?  Maybe give them deeper and slower voices like you'd get from a toy when the batteries are getting low [chuckle to myself].

Another problem.  Why is Megatron so messed up?  In Transformers 2, Optimus ripped Starscream's arm off, and Starscream put it back on with no tools.  Why couldn't the Decepticons get parts to fix Megatron after part of his face/head was blown off in Transformers 2?  That was a bit annoying to me in the book and movie.

One of the big differences in the book was that the book had the Autobot Twins (the annoying little Autobots from Transformers 2).  In the book, when Sentinel turns and kills Ironhide, he then turns his weapon on Bumblebee, but one of the twins sacrifices himself, jumping in the way and takes the blast, saving Bumblebee.  The other twin goes absolutely balistic and attacks Sentinel.  While he doesn't last long, the sheer fury of his attack buys Bumblebee time to escape.  I understand why that wasn't in the movie.  Too many people would probably have watched that scene and labeled Sentinel as a cinematic hero for offing those two despite his evil turn and rooted for him to win the day.

Another difference, while not as big, is Que - the old-looking Autobot who helped design weapons (assumingly named/nicknamed after the James Bond weapon/techie Q).  In the book, it's Wheeljack.  Surprisingly when I looked up the credits to confirm the name, the voice credits all say "Que/Wheeljack."  I never heard the name Wheeljack being used in the movie or the name Que in the book.  While Que was just gunned down in cold blood/lubricant, Wheeljack went down fighting.  When the bridges went up in Chicago, Wheeljack went in the drink and was ambushed.  He took out one of his attackers, but was quickly overwhelmed.  The book also smartly pointed out that separating Wheeljack from the others and Prime from his trailer was deliberate - separate Autobots and humans from their best weapons.

When the space bridge control pillar is destroyed in the movie, it looks like Cybertron may have been destroyed - the book implies otherwise, that it's just sent back.  The movie effect looked like it was sucked into a black hole (not at all as it seemed to appear beyond Earth).

Finally (biggest spoiler below).  And this was a big twist.  After Carly (in her only purpose-related scene) pisses off Megatron to get him into the fight by calling him Sentinel's bitch (great line), Optimus and Megatron do destroy Sentinel together, but Optimus never kills Megatron.  In fact, Megatron tells Optimus he's tired of fighting and just wants to find a way home, to rebuild Cybertron without a conqueror's mentality.  Optimus is skeptical but lets Megatron go warning that he could become a target of other Decepticons.  Megatron seems willing to accept this risk.  This could lead to interesting future book storylines.  Following the book, Megatron could come back to Earth and ask Optimus for help.  Optimus would obviously go (eventually) but always wary of a trap.  Following the movie ending, it would just be another Decepticon.  I'd prefer a following of the book's ending.

Overall, I found both to be fun and fast.  I usually take twice as long to finish a book and need at least one bathroom break in a 2+ hour movie, so I'd say both are worth the time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Worms Bringing New Credibility to Life on Other Worlds

So called "worms from hell" may help unlock answers to the question about whether or not it's possible for life to exist on other worlds.  Nobody's saying that these worms were brought here be extraterrestrials of course.  Round worms called Nematodes were found about a mile underground in South African gold mines.  Nematodes are very resilient creatures, being found in all kinds of habitats:  polar, desert, along the ocean floor, in fresh water...

While it's not surprising to find worms underground, before now nobody thought that complex/multi-cellular life forms could exist in the harsh conditions that you would find so deep underground.  That's where the tie-in to life on other planets comes in according to author Marc Kaufman.  After all, if they can exist in such varied and harsh environments here on Earth, why not on other worlds?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gas From Uranus? Let The Jokes Begin

One way I've read to fuel a theoretical interstellar space ship is using Helium 3.  While not abundant on Earth, there's plenty on outer planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. 

Using a concept like this would be great for science fiction.  The article talked about a space-gas station created at these planets.  But I see other possibilities.  Why limit yourself to interstellar space travel?  What about in-system and using the gases for other sources.  A writer could turn this to corporate sci-fi with competing gas mines.  This could lead to threats of in-system wars, embargos...  I think I've said enough about that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deadliest Warrior Analyzes Zombies vs. Vampires

That's right.  After seeing a recent commercial advertising the upcoming 3rd season of The Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV, I checked the site to see some examples.  Scrolling down a bit I almost couldn't believe my eyes, but a quick click on the video link and viola - Zombies vs. Vampires.  While the video really doesn't really give a preview of the episode content, it is still an interesting idea.  I've been a big fan of the show since it premiered because of its analysis of various warrior cultures, the techniques they use, and (or course) an analysis ot their weapons.

What's would be unique about an episode pitting zombies against vampires is the weapons part.  The Deadliest Warrior typically had experts bring four weapons - long range, medium range, short range, and special weapons.  What I'd really like to know is how that's going to work with zombies and vampires.  What "weapons" will they analyze?

What's fun about this is that fantasy writers might be able to use some of this information in developing stories with these two classic monsters.  Okay, so it wouldn't be a complete source of information, but it could give some ideas that could add credibility to the story.

Then again, this could be just one big joke by Spike TV.  But I hope not.  Maybe the producers could add more like Werewolf vs Vampire and a couple of others, then have a Deadliest Monster Warrior marathon on Halloween.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cool Stuff From Kepler For Science Fiction Writers

A couple of days ago, I found a link to an interesting article on  The article/slide show focuses on the strangest alien planets found by the Kepler spacecraft/telescope.  Some of the worlds discovered could be particularly interesting for science fiction writers who want to include real science to add to the story credibility.  Here are a few examples of worlds from the slide show and how they could be used. 

  • Closest planet:  Epsilon Eridani b orbits an orange sun-like star only 10.5 light years away.  Whether your story uses faster-than-light (FTL) travel, near-light-speed, or stasis, you could reference such a world as a staging area for sending ships deeper into space.  A space station or planet-side outpost coule be used.  It could also be a staging area for an aggressive species planning to invade Earth.
  • A planet in Globular Cluster M4 is referenced as the oldest planet found - an estimated 8 billion years before Earth.  If you want to discuss more advanced races, an older planet is a good place to start, that way you don't have to get into debates on the speed of the evolutionary process.  They had a head start.
  • Fastest planet:  at only 740,000 miles from its sun, this planet makes its orbit every 10 hours.  I honestly couldn't say how to use it, but it just seemed too interesting not to mention.
  • Waterworld:  A hyperspace-hop, slipstream-skip, and warp-jump away at only 40 light years lies GJ 1214b.  Researchers believe that this planet (about 3X the size of Earth and over 6X as massive) is most likely a water world.  I shouldn't have to give the obvious suggestion that humans move to this world for the water.  It could be a good place to bring up aquatic alien life (sentient or otherwise).  But another possiblity is another staging area.  Load up on more water for consumption and/or splitting water atoms to take oxygen for life support and hydrogen for fuel.
  • Dying world:  WASP-18 is another world with a fast orbit - less than one Earth day and scientists theorize it could be orbiting closer to its star and impending doom.  This could be tied to lost civilization, planetary evacuation types of stories.  Encountering ships from the survivors.
  • Most Habitable:  Gliese 581 d.  Only about 20 light-years away this is apparently the world with the greatest possibility for being habitable.  It's about 8X as massive as Earth.  I googled for a bit more since I'd heard of Gliese 581 before and found similar stories about the Gliese 581 c possibly being habitable.  Note that 581c also has a quick orbit  - 13 days.  Again, obvious story-lines one could use include staging area for deeper space travel, colonization...  Consider the potential difficulty of colonizing a world with a short orbit.

Keep in mind that Kepler's mission is to search for Earth-sized/like worlds.  Some of these don't fit that description, but they're interesting nonetheless.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Researchers Grow Brain Cells.

According to an article I read through the Fox News web site, researchers have reported success in growing brain cells.  That's right, brain cells.  The cells in are called astrocytes and can play an important role in diseases like dementia and others effecting the central nervous system (astrocytes are found in the brain and spinal cord).

Naturally I'm sharing this for what it could mean to writers of science fiction.  Technology to regrow brain cells could eventually lead to curing many brain-related illnesses, correcting brain damage suffered from accidents...

On another note, this article shows how quickly things we see as possible only in science fiction can quickly make the sci-fi technology obsolete.  Fans of Star Trek:  The Original Series will no doubt remember the episode "Spock's Brain" where Spock's brain is stolen and used to run an underground complex.  McCoy, with the help of an alien teaching device eventually puts Spock's brain back.  But with this technology, perhaps it would be possible in 200-300 years to regrow the brain.  Perhaps they could just download the consciousness. 

Another Star Trek reference is the Next Generation episode when Worf's spine is broken and an experimental treatment is used to regrow his spine.  In about 300 years, that could be more common than shown.

Okay, Worf and Spock aren't human, but that's not relevant.  In both shows, it was indicated that the situation would have been as dire for humans (or worse).  Who knows.  By the time those dates really come around, such repairs could be as routine as an appendectomy is now. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Zombie Brain

I recently stumbled across this cool article on the zombie brain - how sci fi teaches science.  Some interesting components include references to child psychiatrist, Dr. Steven Schlozman's new novel "The Zombie Autopsies."  While I'm not a big reader of zombie novels (although I love AMC's Walking Dead), I'm always interested in the perspective of experts turning up the science fiction in their fields or related fields.  Schlozman's novel seems to use a one-part resident evil, one part cold virus in that the virus was deliberately engineered but can be passed without taking a bite out of helpless victims.

Inserting some facts, the virus would have to completely destroy the frontal lobes to take away higher reasoning and logic functions.  If you've watched Walking Dead, you may remember a scene in the secret CDC bunker where the scientist was experimenting with zombie blood and had actually scanned his own wife's brain as she deteriorated, died, and turned zombie.  The scene showed the scan of her brain as it shut down and then only a small part started working again.

The article goes on to discuss how such a virus would be made, how we'd probably fight back, and even ties it to actual infectious diseases we face today.

Overall, and interesting article and a promising premise for the book.  If the book is half as intriguing as this article, it should be a great read.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

50th Anniversary

As Cinco De Mayo comes to an end, let us take a moment to remember an important historical event - one especially relevant for sci-fi and space fans.  It was 50 years ago today that Alan B. Shepard Jr. climbed into the Freedom 7 capsule and, in a 15 minute sub-orbital flight, became the first American in space.

Thank you Mr. Shepard.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Trying to Regroup and Recoup

How do you regroup and restart writing when faced with a loss of past work/edits?  I figure that one is to do the same thing I did when I finished my first novel draft - have some fun with a short story.  When I glanced at some of my recent blog stats, I noticed my post on the Star Trek fanfic contest had some recent hits. 

The good and bad of it is that I've got a couple of ideas for stories, but I'm not sure which to choose.  Contest rules limit to one story.

One idea follows the last Next Generation cast movie - Nemesis.  With the Romulans becoming friends, all of the Trek villains are now allies.  Starfleet wants to promote Picard to admiral and make him a figurehead in the Federation.  Some high ranks in Starfleet are worried that with all the known Trek villains now friends, that this will actually split the Federation.  Why?  You'll have to read it and find out.

The second story idea takes place about a year after the JJ Abrams Trek movie.  The Enterprise has spent lots of time touring the Federation with the crew being more like celebrities than Starfleet officers and explorers.  Kirk finds things becoming very routine and actually getting dull.  When a chance for action comes about, he jumps at the chance - too quickly and people die for the first time as a direct result of his orders.  How will he react?  Think about it.  His situation is really no different than a Navy Academy Senior going from the classroom directly to command of an aircraft carrier.  Is he truly ready to command?

So, which to write?  I think both have potential.  Obviously I think they do or I wouldn't consider them!  I'm open to input.  Which sounds more interesting?

Share your feedback and

Write On.

Rest In Peace William Campbell

Actor William Campbell died today.  Star Trek fans will remember Mr. Campbell as Trelane, The Squire of Gothos and (more importantly) as Captain Koloth from what many consider to be the best of the original series episodes, The Trouble With Tribbles.

I'm sure that true Klingon fans will stare into the eyes of death and howl a warning to the dead for one of the greatest Klingon warriors has joined them.

Rest In Peace Mr. Campbell and thank you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Was Inevitable But Came Quicker Than Expected

E-Books have outsold hardcover and paperbacks in every reading category in the US.  The sales were over 200% higher than just one year ago. 

Is this a fluke?  Doubt it.  It's been discussed for a while but many that I've spoken to thought it wouldn't happen for a few years.  However, keep in mind that e-readers ranked among the top gifts for last Christmas and e-book sales have been on the rise..

Not something big publishers are too fond of.  Especially now that small publishers and self-publishers are taking the fight to the big dogs regarding prices.  This leads to smaller margins.  To make things worse, I'm hearing more and more about e-book libraries coming.  Why is that worse?  Libraries are more likely to buy extra copies of the same book, not just for demand but, let's face it, people are harder on things they don't own.  Library books are more likely to get damaged and need replacing.  That wouldn't be an issue with e-books.  Best part for library patrons is, unless the library can only share a limited number, no waiting list.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Redundant Backup Is An Oxymoron

I've been procrastinating about this post because I'm embarrassed to admit this.  I've been in a major writing/blogging slump because a few months ago I hit the unlucky/stupid jackpot.  My computer had a virus and, while many files were saved, much of my writing was lost.  Fortunately, I had it all backed up on a USB flash drive - that got left in my pants pocket and washed - aka RUINED.

At first, I thought all was lost until I went to our old computer and did find a copy of my story.  The problem is it was about 1-2 years out of date.  So, I'm back to a raw draft - most of my edits lost and friends who've edited for me deleted their copies.  For now, I'll probably have to shelve this piece and, when I have time to write again, work on another project.  There are plenty of creative voices in my head.  I'm sure one of them has something entertaining to say.

Learn from my stupidity.  Don't just backup often, make a couple of backups to keep your work safe!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Commercials on Kindle! Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

I've heard family and friends say that they'd be willing to pay a little more for DVDs and Blu Rays if it meant skipping ads and things like that.  This is a little like that.  A new Kindle is coming May 3 that costs $25 less, but the price is sitting through some "well-placed ads."  But Kindle/Amazon isn't using the term "ads."  They're calling it a "Kindle with special offers."

One difference I've heard with these ads is the ability to vote on the types of ads through their web site and the AdMash Kindle app.

I think I'll stick with my iPad e-reader.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Motivate To Write Through Non-Writing Projects

After about 2 months of working out, training, and happily sweating off about 25 lbs, I finally tested last Saturday and earned my second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  Of course, one of the best aspects of that was the fact that my six-year old son was there to watch it.  He seemed more interested in his iPad for the most part, but took notice sometimes when Daddy got up for sparring, grappling, and board breaking.  What dad doesn't like to succeed in front of his child? 

For the most part, I've done no writing or editing work on my own projects during this time, but I'm hoping to change that some now.  In some ways, I think this break is good for me as a writer.  I'm in the best shape I've been in for a few years, I have a renewed sense of self-confidence because of what I have just achieved, and now I can come back and look at my projects with a fresher perspective.

I know some people who seem so dedicated to their writing that there's no room for anything else.  I don't think that's good for anyone.  Too much focus on one thing will lead to burnout and frustration that much faster.  Don't be impatient.  Sometimes it will help writing to walk away from it and do something else.  Some science fiction writers are former military.  I've seen how some writers are also artists or have other hobbies. 

Another consideration is that I believe that my martial arts training helps my credibility as a writer.  I remember in writing workshops hearing people say, "Write what you know."  Incorporating outside interests into writing helps the credibility of a story, and makes associated research easier/more pleasurable (less like "work").  Also, think of your favorite writers.  When reading the bio on the backs of the books, how often do you see that they've had military service, or other activities where their expertise shows clearly in their writing?  As a reader, does that make you more interested in the author than if the book bio simply listed a college and no "life experiences?" 

Personally, I like reading good books written by interesting people.  I'd be very proud to include things in an author bio as: former member of the United States Army.  2nd Degree Tae Kwon Do Black Belt (maybe 3rd by the time I actually publish).  Of course, my most important credential is, and always will be, Daddy.

Get out, take on the world and

Write On.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stargate's End

I'm sure those who read this have already seen some other posts regarding the upcoming cancellation of SyFy's Stargate Universe (SG-U).  I've seen some of them and agree with some things while disagreeing with others.  Let me make a comparison with the prior shows, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis (SGA). 

SG-1 and SGA had so many similarities that the shows really didn't have a lot of things that differentiated them.  Both had balanced ensemble casts who seemed very familiar.  The immediate leaders Col O'Neil (replaced by Col Mitchell) for SG-1 and Col Sheppard for SGA were competent military commanders/pilots who basically came off as likable goofballs.  Each show had their scientific genius (Carter/McKay).  The addition of Ronan on SGA was their answer for Teal'c.  In some ways Daniel Jackson and Teyla filled the same roles.  While they were very different people, they both seemed to play the role of the team's conscience/wisdom.  SG-U didn't have the chemistry those characters developed.  And fans noticed.

Overall plot similarities.  When it came right down to it, both shows were about protecting Earth against malevolent entities.  For SG-1 it was the Goa'uld and then the Ori.  Both similar concepts - highly advanced races that consider themselves gods and plan to enslave humanity.  For SGA it was the Wraith.  While not having delusions of being deities, the Wraith were obviously a threat.  They wanted us to eat, which does indicate a level of superiority even if it's not god-like.  Face it, we think we're better and more deserving than our dinners.

The producers of SG-U wisely wanted to come up with something different so it didn't look like another spinoff/new names and same types of character.  Good idea in concept, but unfortunately they took it too far from a formula that worked.  I never really got that into the characters.  I looked up a couple of things to refresh my memory (since the show couldn't keep my interest enough to make me care to follow the broader plot).  IIRC, early in the show, Destiny seemed to be following seed-ships that were dropping Stargates on planets.  However, I thought I saw more recently a big reveal that Destiny's true mission had to do with finding the origins of the universe?  If Destiny's the ship that's looking for this great truth/solve this great mystery, why is it following the seed ships?  Shouldn't it be leading? 

Lastly, regarding the overall plot.  SG-1 and SGA had threats to humanity and the fans liked having a constant threat/villain to boo (or even cheer), while SG-U was looking for the source of the universe or something (literally) more cosmic.  The broad plot for SG-1 and SGA, while possibly more cliche, were at least exciting.  For SG-U, I give it's reveal a big "WHO CARES!" 

Better luck next time SyFy.

Good Quote For Writing and Life

This Saturday, I'm finally taking my second degree black belt test.  At my school, ETO, one requirement is to write an essay.  Since I'm testing for second degree, my topic was how a black belt turns to back into a white belt.  A friend of mine gave me a good quote from author Louis L'Amour that fit this perfectly:

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning."
Obviously this relates easily to writing and editing and how often do we, as writers, hear that?  I've heard other versions, like "When you think you're done editing, you're half way there."  It really is similar in concept to martial arts.  Getting my first black belt was great, but I knew I still had so much I could learn.  And more importantly, I wanted to learn more.  Writers have to carry that same hunger.  Once the story is written, you must WANT to go back through it over and over and over again to make the manuscript sparkle like the brightest diamond.  Then, take a step back, rest and start again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Favorite Book May Become A Movie

Just read that Paramount Pictures has bought the rights to make John Scalzi's Old Man's War into a movie.

Details at:

If it's a success and goes through the entire storyline with Ghost Brigades as the sequel, I wonder whether they'll use The Last Colony to wind out a trilogy, or use the alternate version of that by following Zoe's Tale?  Perhaps a combination of both.

For those who haven't read this series (and I highly recommend it), The Last Colony and Zoe's Tale are the same story from different perspectives.  The Last Colony follows the actions/POV of John Perry (protagonist from Old Man's War) while Zoe's Tale follows the same plotline from the POV of Perry's adopted daughter Zoe (introduced in Ghost Brigades).

The idea was also done successfully by Orson Scott Card in Ender's Shadow - the telling of Ender's Tale from the POV of one of Ender's lieutenants - Bean.

Regardless, let's just hope that the translation from Scalzi's masterful story to the big screen doesn't crash and burn.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plant Technology

Here's an interesting article from Fox News on research that will turn ordinary plants into security devices.  The plants turn white when certain elements enter their environment. 

Now think about this for writers.  Take this to the next level.  If technology exists to make plants change in the presence of certain chemicals, what about people?  Setup a biological defense against specific aliens.  Or even more specific.  Say a law enforcement agency has a simple DNA sample.  What about plants that could detect that person's DNA?

Think of how this could be used.  Rather than a large team of tech experts with sophisticated and complicated equipment, maintenance of the system could be done with a biologist.  A story could highlight how this approach could be used at facilities with fewer financial resources.  Create plants that, once "fed" a sample of DNA or certain chemicals, it reacts in their presence.

So keep researching and

Write On.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Books I'm Looking Forward To Getting In Early 2011

So far, there are two books that I'm looking forward to getting either in hard copy or as a download for my iPad.  In the last year, I've basically split my reading.  I'm keeping one hard copy book and one e-book.  The hard copy book is typically what I read on the bus coming home from work, and the e-book is what I'll read in bed.

Anyway.  First up is Center of Gravity: Star Carrier: Book Two

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Thought Those Holes In My Belt Were Just Decorative (Off-Topic: Training Mode)

Since I was first pre-tested for my second degree black belt, I've lost about 10-12 pounds, my SUV spare tire has been replaced by one for a subcompact, and my man-boobs have shrunk from about a C cup to about an A.  The test hasn't been formally scheduled, but I could have another 3 or more weeks to prepare.

Since I'm in "training mode" I am attending more classes, but when the test is over, I'll go back to my normal 2 - 3 classes per week (rest of the weeks is family time).  So how do I maintain when my training routine goes down?  Early losses are typically fastest and taking more classes helps definitely, but some things that have helped included some changes in eating and more cardio work.

Late night snacks/eating after my Tae Kwon Do class are a tough habit to break.  I'm hoping I'll be able to continue avoiding them after the test.

It also seems to help that I changed my lunch habits at work.  I use to bring nothing but stuff you'd find on a fruit/veggie platter (grapes, baby carrots, apples, bananas...).  Unfortunately I never really felt full, so I'd turn to snacks.  Now I take a bit more.  My new favorite at lunch is grilled chicken caesar salads or grilled chicken caesar wraps.   Much more satisfying, so I don't want to snack as much.

Hopefully, by the time I post again, I'll be locked in below 200 pounds.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blind Driver

That's right, I just heard about a blind man demonstrating a new technology that would allow blind people to drive.  I heard about it and read the story on Atlanta Radio Station Star 94.

The car, obviously is loaded with high tech equipment like laser range finders, cameras, and more that will apparently map out the environment.  The technology "communicates information non-visually to a blind person allowing them to safely drive an automobile."  The driver wears special gloves (you can see wires/cables on the gloves) that help with steering/let the driver know how far to turn.

The system would probably need safeguards that would automatically slow or stop the vehicle in certain instances like if someone stopped abrupty or something/someone moves suddenly in front of the vehicle.  Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if that is added to cars for sighted people. 

For a direct link to the Youtube video, check this out.

Now think about this technology for science fiction writers.  Sure, in space opera or futuristic science fiction, you can discuss technologies that let the blind function like sighted people.  One of the best known is Geordi LaForge's VISOR from Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  But what about something more like science fiction in the modern world - urban science fiction?  I could see this type of technology brought up for a blind character, or even a blind protagonist.

So keep researching and

Write On.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reviewing A Draft Before Sharing

Recently, I went through and critiqued a short story through Critters.  It was one of the worst things I've read.  The writing was so bad and littered with inexcusable grammatical errors that I completely lost track of what the story was about.  Because the writer sent the draft in such poor condition, I really think he/she will not get the best feedback on the story because I believe other readers/critiquers will also be distracted by the poor writing.  Also, since there are lots of stories to choose from constantly through Critters (and other online writing/critting groups) that some may start, get fed up and decide to choose another story that is easier to read.  Poorly written stories can take more time to critique.

Now, let me remind everyont that I'm a fan of Critters.  Overall, I feel they've helped my draft novel, Legacy Soldier, progress and improve.  They also helped me find some stupid mistakes.  There is only so much you can do to edit your own work because you're so close to it that you know what you want to say and sometimes confuse that with what you're actually saying in the story.  That's where having others to give an objective read is important.  That said, we as writers should try to give our best draft to beta readers/editors.

Even a first draft shouldn't go out as just after it's been written.  If you want the best quality feedback, send the best quality drafts.  I know I've mentioned these tricks/tools before, but let me go through a few again.

Run a spell/grammar check.  These tools aren't infallible, but they do help clean up a story.  Another trick I've heard is to read your story/chapter to yourself out loud.  Does it sound right?  If you have a friend/family member willing, let them read it to you.  If they have trouble reading parts, you may want to re-write.  If you don't have someone who can do that, a tool I've found helpful is a free downloadable text-to-speech software called Ultra HALC/NET rated the free version pretty well.

So remember, write, read, re-write, read again, and

Write On.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Innovations for Space Flight

I just saw a slideshow on FoxNews' Tech link focusing on 10 new innovations for future space flight.  Some are pretty much what you'd expect.  There's a slide for a new Mars rover, discussion of what kind of transport vehicle will replace the space shuttle, exercise equipment for astronauts and other things that I've been hearing about for a couple of years now.  But then there are a few that I haven't heard about as much.

Examples:  Nantennaes.  Billions of tiny antennae on the wings of unmanned aerial vehicles that would help provide electricity and power for an engine.  While this sounds like a high-tech version of solar panels, the technology is much more advanced and worthy of note to science fiction writers.

A robot motor that could operate in extreme heat, like on Venus.  Again, while not necessarily something people haven't heard of before in sci-fi, it's still interesting to know that there is currently such a device that could operate in temps allegedly up to 932 degrees.  According to the article, the nearest competitors can only withstand half that temperature.  This is a good example of how sometimes tech takes a massive leap forward before returning to incremental advances.

Whoever came up with this one must have been a 7 of 9 fan.  Skin tight space suits.  Apparently this type of attire helps to reduce the bone loss for astronauts in space for extended periods by simulating the effects of gravity.  When you think of the fact that astronauts going to the ISS often spend months there and considering a recent post I made regarding an article on a manned trip to Mars.  A one-way trip would take months - almost a year IIRC, this is an important development.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is the Military Going to Have Invisible Vehicles?

Star Trek fans might be hoping we have a cloaking device ready for the Klingons and Romulans.  According to an article on Fox News' tech page, the answer is yes.  Invisible tanks, planes, and armor could be in use within 5 years.  Rather than the whole "bending light" theory, this tech would use cameras and a high tech display to project the surrounding environment onto the hull of the vehicle rendering it effectively invisible - similar to a chameleon blending into the surrounding. 

One thing I found cool is that I use a tech like this in my draft sci-fi novel, but not for military applications.  The tech is used on the roof of an flying limousine and effectively makes the roof disappear so the occupants can stare at the stars.  I one-up it by adding some touch-screen tech (like an iPad).  Touch a star visible and get the info on it.

With this new tech coming out, I may have to tone down the surprise or make a comment that the characters hadn't heard of the tech used on anything besides military vehicles.  Something to incorporate the science facts of this tech.  Regardless, it's cool to see this tech really coming about.  It's one of the great things about sci-fi. Things we dream can become reality.

Keep researching for your stories to include credible tech and

Write On.

Monday, January 17, 2011

SyFy's New Show - Being Human.

Okay, I'm trying SyFy's new show, Being Human.  Fortunately for me they're showing the premier twice.  Otherwise, I'd have missed the first 20 minutes due to my Tae Kwon Do class.

 - Vampire:  a bit cliche.  Pale skin and a bit too suave.  Does becoming a vampire automatically make everybody so confident.  Unless I missed something, daylight didn't seem to hurt him.  At least they didn't have that drawback and, thankfully, he DIDN'T sparkle.
 - Werewolf:  Likeable but kinda reminds me of Oz from Buffy and Henry from Sanctuary.  They never seem that confident, but come off as likeable bozos.
 - Ghost:  Great intro, she has trouble controling herself.  While it reminds me of Patrick Swayze in Ghost, I like the way they did it.  Not sappy, but she was so happy that someone could see/hear her, she kept poofing out.  She's got a fun attitude.  So far, she seems to be the most likeable character.

Brief scene where the vampire calls the mother of the girl he killed from a pay phone made me ask myself a question.  When was the last time I saw a pay phone?
Werewolf guy trying to avoid his sister was pretty good too.  A little family drama that also gave some clue how long he's been a werewolf.  I like his sister following him to the place where I think he's locked away to wolf out.  Funny line from sister - "You're not nearly as mysterious as you think you are" and then locks herself in the room with him.  Nice cliffhanger for the season opener.

Don't like that the vampire is involved with other vamps.  Another cliche.  Why are there always multiple vamps?  I know it takes a vamp to make a vamp, but the same for werewolves.  Come on.  Yes, vampy's trying to get away from their kind, so to speak, but that's a bit too Angel or Forever Knight.  There are obviously other ghosts and werewolves in this world but those characters don't seem to know any yet.  Good.

Overall, it's not a bad start.  Vampire's a bit cliche, but I think it's got promise anyway.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Should I retire on Mars?

If I'm lucky, I'll be able to retire some time in the 2030s.  A lot can happen in the next 20 years.  From what I've read in an article on FoxNews, perhaps even a manned one-way trip to Mars.  To summarize, the article references a recent article from the Journal of Cosmology that gave great details how a privately funded manned mission to Mars could take place as early as 20 years from now.  More than 400 people have already volunteered as colonists.

Interesting how it specifies "privately funded."  Can't trust the government?  Well, let's face facts.  It seems like the private sector is doing more to advance the possibilities of space travel.  In my draft novel, LEGACY SOLDIER, this fits in with the backstory.  One of the societies came from humanities first attempt at colonizing outside of our solar system using privately funded and developed a prototype faster-than-light propulsion.  Needless to say, they have many volunteers - mostly scientists (high tech types, biologists, physicists - enough different PhDs that it could really mean Piled higher and Deeper).

Anyway, when the colonists first get to Mars, it's likely that the ship itself will be designed to serve as a colony/outpost.  But that couldn't last forever.  Bio-domes and other habitats will probably follow.  Russian architect Alexander Remizov designed a "green ark" that resembles a giant slinky and has the capacity to house 10,000 people.  While the design is most likely intended for Earth-bound use (as implied by the floating version), such a structure would be a likely necessity on a colony.  That is until Arnold Schwartzenegger shows up and finds the alien machine to give Mars an atmosphere (remember Total Recall?)

Now, we also have to think about transportation.  Considering the limited resources, I doubt that big SUVs will be taken along.  Walking might work at first, but some type of motorized transportation would eventually become needed.  Well, GM has debuted some small pod-like cars that seat two, run on two wheels, are completely electronic and can drive themselves.  The Electric Networked Vehicle, or EN-V (pronounced envy) that they anticipate could be ready for the market in 2030.  These small vehicles would be the perfect type of conveyance in a self-contained society.  The EN-V's controller/steering "wheel" is actually rectangular.  At a glance it looks like a small iPad or big iPhone.  Due to the size and having no real dashboard, it would make sense to have guages and other vehicle information available on the controller.

So there you have it.  Real tech mixed with some credible concepts that could lead to the first attempts at off-world colonization within out lifetime.  Until then, this makes for good background information and technological support for credible writing.

Look to the stars and
Write On.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Acceptable SyFy

I don't know if someone at SyFy was listening to me or not.  Probably not, but I noticed this morning that SyFy is airing Merlin Marathon.  Personally, that series hasn't exactly drawn me in.  No surprise, I'm not big on the series, but it is at least part of the genre that built up SyFy.  While the marathon will be unfortunately interrupted by WWE wrestling, immediately following that action-based sitcom will air the season premier of Merlin.

Sunday, I just found out, is TrekDay on SyFy.  If they air some of the good stuff, I'll forgive them for showing Star Trek:  Nemesis.

After I made my first post about SyFy vs. History Channel, I was contacted by an old friend who said that BBC also has some good stuff.  SyFy is apparently checking them out also - January 17, SyFy airs Being Human.  Based on a critically acclaimed BBC series, SyFy places three 20-something roommates - a ghost, vampire and werewolf - trying to keep their secrets and help each other.  Sounds a little like an urban fantasy Melrose Place (the original one).  I'm willing to give it a chance.  I love the werewolf's line in the advertisements - "We'll have full moon parties.  We'll invite the neighbors over and eat them."  Funny, but I don't know if the ghost eats.

And for the retro and Bruce Lee fans, I saw a commercial that SyFy will air a Green Hornet Marathon Tuesday, January 11.  That's right, the original Green Hornet and Kato will be back.  It will be fun to see Kato kick some @ss.

It's nice timing.  Seeing some of the greats is inspirational as I kick my own Tae Kwon Do training into a higher gear as I practice routines for my next black belt test.  I've lost about 3 pounds and I tried to make my sparring in regular class more intense.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Training Day 1

Looks like I have another New Year Goal and something new to blog about.  At my Tae Kwon Do class (can't believe the newsletter tab still has a picture from my black belt test - I'm the bald guy on the left side) last night, I went through some pre-testing drills with another black belt and some advanced red belts.  So it looks like I'm going to be testing for my second degree black belt some time in February and that means that I've got to go into training mode!

Just for fun, and to keep me accountable, I'm going to include blog entries dedicated to training for this test.  My first degree test was the most grueling thing I've ever gone through and this will be even tougher.  The toughest parts were the three sparring sessions.  Each spaced out between testing on techniques, and forms/katas.  The first was just regular sparring.  Nice warm-up. 

The next was round-robin sparring.  A group of helpers (mostly black belts) lined up and sparred me one at a time for about 30 seconds.  Every 30 seconds I'd face a fresh opponent.  I ended up sparring each person twice.  Those taking their second degree test sparred their opponents three times.  Definitely lots of cardio.

The last sparring session was multiples.  I faced off against two black belts whose combined age was probably still less than mine (a 3rd and a 4th degree).  Next time, I'll have to face three.

Other things are similar.  Everybody works techniques and forms starting with white belt and working their way up.  All black belts have to know the weapons forms.  The simple one is with an escrima stick, but the more complicated (my favorite) is the bo form. 

I need to take some time to polish my forms, and weapon techniques, but the most important thing to do is work on my cardio.  This morning, I spent about 25 minutes warming up with a medicine ball workout and then going to the clubhouse gym for about 40 minutes on an elliptical.  Since I'm working from home, I might practice some forms at lunch.

If you think it's out of place to talk about training for a martial arts test on a writer blog, don't worry.  This is one of those things that I like to think goes to credible writing.  Hopefully, if people see that on my book bio sections, they'll appreciate my fighting scenes that much more.  Also, I have to write an essay - test of wisdom basically before the test.

So, be healthy, enjoy the new year and

Write On.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Goals

Happy New Year.  Like many others, I'm setting a couple of goals for 2011.  And, of course, most are related to writing.

First, I want to complete edits on Legacy Soldier and start sending it out to agents and publishers.  I've sent it out to a few and did get some partial requests, but in the end they all turned to rejections (those who've replied).  There are a couple other big agents I want to target, but I want one more coat of polish on the manuscript first.  Keep that idea in mind.  Just because you have sent off your manuscript doesn't mean you should just sit back and hope it's adequate.  Take some time away and then look it over again.

Second, I've started two new stories and I want to finish one - maybe just at novella length.  One is an urban sci-fi mystery story called TIA.  TIA is short for Temporal Investigations Avatar.  The technology allows the user to send their consciousness back in time to watch a crime.  The catch is that the past isn't as linear as most thought and a person must be trained to navigate to the time and place of the crime to find key pieces of evidence and identify the criminals.

The other is an alternative Earth urban fantasy were the eastern 13 states have been taken over by werewolves.  The protagonist is part of the military Border Patrol that tries to keep the werewolves from advancing.  Her team is tasked with protecting a lab that might have developed a vaccine for the werewolf condition.  The lab is attacked and her lover bit.  With a no-tolerance policy (those infected are killed) and only one vial of the vaccine surviving the attack, she has to get the vaccine to headquarters while safeguarding her lover hoping that the vaccine will also lead to a cure before his condition is discovered and he's executed.

So wish me luck, enjoy the new year and
Write On