Troubled Times

My new time travel tale “Troubled Times” was accepted for publication in the latest issue of Bewildering Stories. This is the caption they used- Richard Murray has a warning about time travel: “Time machines are impossibly complex to build and use. And if psychopaths build one, everybody may be in for Troubled Times,  Here’s the link where you can read it for – Free.

I also experimented with a new program called Doodly to prepare my first book trailer.

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Small Town Anthology III

My wife and I collaborated on a  short story for an annual writing tournament in our local county which won first place in our category. It was just published in a book, Small Town Anthology III , which is now available on Amazon in paperback and in a few days will be available as a Kindle ebook. 

Our story is entitled “Ida” by Rann Murray. Rann is a pen name which is a combination of our first names, Rick and Ann. Ida is about two people who fall in love which changes the life of someone close to them. The book is a unique collection of stories by local Kalamazoo County, Michigan authors whose ages range from the very young all the way up to seniors. FUN to see one of our stories finally in print! I’d like to say it was a labor of love… and it was at first. But it was a heck of a lot of hard work, sweat and tears to finish it and get it into readable story format before the deadline. A fellow member of our Joy of Writing Group won two prizes, a first and second in his category, so it looks like writing groups do actually teach you how to write a decent story.

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Moon Life

A while back I started writing a novel about a father whose son mysteriously disappeared while stationed at a science facility on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. Titled, Freeman’s Ocean, the father ends up traveling out to Enceladus by hitch-hiking aboard ore mining ships that are continuously moving about the solar system. It’s a poor man’s means to traverse the solar system, sort of like train hopping. What he finds out about his son is completely unexpected.  This is one of those novels that I will have to finish, that is after I complete about a half dozen other writing projects but I will get to it.

From Europa With Love book image2 5-6-16

And speaking of the unexpected, if you have an interest in sci-fi involving exploring the solar systems planets and moons, I just read a novelette called From Europa With Love by David Nadas with a unique take on what we just might encounter out in deep space. You can’t beat the price, right now it’s free.

 

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Ascension

Ascension 300 dpi Small 2 5-2-16Ascension: A remote outpost stationed at the extreme edge of the solar system goes silent. The determined commander and his rescue fleet must find out what happened to the outpost and the thirty lives on it. As they reach their destination, what they don’t find startles them all. But what they do find forces them to rewrite all of human history. And now they are faced by a terrifying new enemy.

This is my latest book release which was inspired by Stephen Baxter’s novel, Vacuum Diagrams, in which he refers to a species of dark matter life which inhabits the gravity wells of stars.

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Depression and Writing

The leader of an online writing group I belong to recently asked the question: What technique(s) do you use to get out of a depressed state?

If you’re a writer who has to deal with frequent depression, you are in good company: Mark Twain, Stephen King, Ann Rice, and J.K. Rowling to name a few.

I think most people would agree that it’s difficult to write, or for that matter do much of anything, when you’re depressed. We all get depressed from time to time. Life has a way of throwing  a curve ball guaranteed to get you down. So what gets you depressed? Your job, your family, other people in general, your mother-in-law?

I can tell you that one thing guaranteed to get me depressed is finishing a writing project which I did several days ago. Sounds strange maybe, but it’s true. It’s a big letdown for me similar to the elation and then depression I experienced after finishing final exams in college.

Print

Yesterday my wife and I went hiking with some friends at our local nature center for Earth Day which was the last thing I felt like doing, but I went anyway. It was a tough hike with some very steep hills to climb and I was sweating and out of breath at times from the exertion. So the end result for me was — depression? what depression? It’s only been 24 hours since finishing my writing project and I’m already feeling the urge to tackle the next one. I couldn’t think of two more wonderful addictions in my life to have than writing and exercise. I can’t do one without the other. I mean that in the most literal sense. If I don’t exercise my writing suffers.

I’ve heard people say that they absolutely love exercising or writers express how much they love the writing process. I’d like to say that I’m that person but the truth is I’m not. I don’t actually like exercising. It’s just something I feel compelled to do because I know I should do it. And writing? The process of writing is work for me and I don’t particularly like working. I’d rather be playing a game, watching a movie or reading a good book.

But what I do like is the end result of doing both of these things. That’s the part that I find really gratifying. Exercise keeps my life in balance and allows me to do the things I enjoy and be better at them than I would be sitting around collecting dust while slouched on a couch. And looking back on having written a satisfying story that has an interesting premise, builds suspense and resolves in a unique way — for me, there’s nothing more pleasing and downright intoxicating than that.

What’s the writing project that I wrapped up? It should be published in about two weeks so I’ll let you know then.

So here’s the question: What’s the first thing you turn to that gets you out of depression?

 

 

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Arkwright

Finally, a new Sci-Fi book for science fiction writers.

Arkwright by Allen Steele (author of Coyote trilogy):

Arkwright is a fictional account of a famous Sci-Fi author named Nathan Arkwright whose series of Galaxy Patrol books and movies made him a very wealthy man (what we all dream about when were not writing). Upon death Mr. Arkwright shirks all of his relatives who don’t get a dime and decides to put all of that money to good use by starting a foundation tasked with building mankind’s first starship. This starship won’t be populated by cranky people but rather AI robots, eggs, sperm and a few artificial wombs.

Arkwright 4-4-16

Does the starship get built? Does it make it to the target star system? Is the planet successfully colonized? Does Earth’s population get off’d by runaway global warming? Is there a sequel?  Don’t ask me. Read the book.

Was it any good? Sure, I gave it an A-. Did it deserve an A-? Not really. It was actually a B+ book but the plot idea of one of our own making it to the mountaintop was worth the extra upgrade.

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The Observatory

Rick At Telescope 8-2-2008

This is me a while back standing at the telescopes in my then  four year old observatory. The open door on the left leads into a warm room which has a window that looks out to the telescope. The warm room had two computer monitors, one for finding astronomical targets to photograph and another dedicated to star tracking.

This is a great hobby, if you’re willing to spend the hours of time involved in actually getting decent astrophotos. My record imaging time was about 70 hours for one image taken over multiple nights.

I’m more interested now in writing stories that take place in the outer space I used to photograph but I’m sure that some day I’ll be back at it, spending long hours in the middle of the night enjoying this fascinating hobby.

I wonder how many amateur astronomers, or professional astronomers for that matter, are science fiction writers as well? A couple of famous SF writers who enjoyed amateur astronomy are Robert Sawyer and Terry Pratchett. And, of course, one professional astronomer and cosmologist was Carl Sagan. Not bad company to keep.

 

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New Year

You know, I have yet to make the error of entering 2015 instead of 2016 when writing a check but then it’s only January 4th so I have plenty of time.

As long as we’re on the subject of 2016 (great segue, eh?), I’ve been getting some emails from websites I subscribe to about goals for 2016 so I thought I should give it a try. That way I can give you an idea of what writing projects I’m working on so you’ll hang around to watch me struggle.

Goal one is to write more blog posts, at least once a month. But I’m told by experts that to have a successful blog and/or author following I should be posting once a week. Screw them. I don’t want to be successful, I just want to write. To self: “I would classify blog posts as writing, wouldn’t you?” Answer to self: “Yeah, and elves have strange powers, so screw you.”

And speaking of writing, I’ve got several writing goals for 2016 that I’m very serious about. Here they are:

Write more blog posts.

The first draft of my novella, App-Jacker Chronicles, Episode 2 (my comedy SciFi series about a malcontent who wanders the Galaxy hunting for Bio-Apps to fatten his wallet) titled ‘Rusty Zipper’ is finished and I’m a little over half way through editing. Get it done and out the door the first quarter of 2016.

Finish the first draft of App-Jacker Episode 3, working title, ‘Sparkle’ by end of year. I never said I was fast.

Do final edits on my SciFi dramatic short story ‘Ascension’ and publish by second quarter. In this one, humanity is prevented from traveling outside the solar system by a godlike species but help comes from a completely unexpected source.

A big project I want to push myself to complete by the end of the year is my SciFi-Fantasy novel called ‘Box In The House’. This one is hard to describe but let’s just say it’s like Stephen King’s ‘The Dome’ meets the Coen brothers ‘Fargo’. No, it’s not a comedy, but like Fargo, has some dark comedy elements.

Finally I want to gather my courage and fortitude to write a nonfiction essay titled ‘Oneness’. It’s a theory I’ve developed over the past several years that borders on the spiritual but from a completely scientific point of view.

 

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MouseHelmet6

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The Happy Prince (App-Jacker Chronicles Episode 1)

Latest Book Cover 4-13-15

I just got a new cover which I think is much better than what I managed to come up with using the Amazon cover creator software. Let me know what you think.

The Happy Prince is a SciFi short story which is the first episode in my App-Jacker Chronicles series available on Amazon.com here:  The Happy Prince.

If you want to be notified when future episodes are released, just follow this website by entering your email address at the top right.

In the distant future humans discovered that they aren’t alone. In fact, species in the Milky Way Galaxy bump into each other too doggone often and each species thinks the other was made while Nature was having a disturbing nightmare. They get along better than expected, but at the same time manage to tick each other off with surprising regularity.
That’s where I come in. I’m an App-Jacker. I heist the best Bio-Apps in the galaxy and sell them on the open market which makes one side very happy and the other really ticked off.
So join me on board my ship, The Salvanator and I’ll show you how Bio-Apps can make you a galactic superhero or supervillain. And maybe we’ll encounter some forbidden pleasures along the way, if you get my space-drift.

“This is a fun, quick read, almost Micky Spillane-ish in its quick wit and first person narrative. Well done, Rann.” — Reviewer, Lon H. Grover

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IC1805 Heart Nebula in Narrowband

Second version with less stars.

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©2008 Richard Murray
Click on image for 80% size.

Zoomed in to image center.


©2008 Richard Murray

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©2008 Richard Murray
Full Size Image

Notes: This was an imaging run that took three nights to complete with 6 hours per filter and 30 minute subs for a total of 18 hours imaging. I’ve never imaged that long on one object before but I think the effort was worth it. I used the Hubble Palatte with SII as Red, Ha as Green and OIII as blue.

Be sure to click on the image for a full size view.

Date(s): 9-21, 9-22 and 9-25-08
Object: IC1805 Heart Nebula in Cassiopeia
Telescope: Megrez 80mm APO, WO 0.8 FR/FF
Mount: LX90
Camera: Atik 16hr
Guiding: Lx90 8″ SCT, DSI Pro, Phd Guiding
Filters: Ha, OIII, SII
Exposure: 18 Hours Ha 12×30 mins, OIII 12×30 mins, SII 12×30 mins, All Bin 1×1
Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CS2
Location: Burke Ave. Observatory, Three Rivers, Michigan

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The Martian by Andy Weir

I just finished listening to the audible version of The Martian by Andy Weir narrated by R.C Bray. I don’t know how this would read but I have to say this is the best audio hard SF book I have ever listened to. On Amazon, the written version has 5124 reviews with a rating of 4 1/2 stars. On Audible the count is even higher with 8203 ratings at 4 1/2 stars. This was so good I couldn’t stop listening. I listened everywhere — exercising, in the bathroom, in bed, bike riding, having sex (ok, now I’m exaggerating) etc. In fact, I plan on listening to it again. The Martian by Andy Weir 10-11-14

The book is about an astronaut who is left for dead on Mars by his fellow astronauts. He tries to survive with no way of contacting Earth, a limited amount of food, and his own abundant proclivity to screw up. And the fun part is he does it all with serious attitude, grousing and grumbling his way through one innovative survival tactic after another. This book is so firmly grounded in science that the methods he uses to survive are completely plausible.

A few quotes from The Martian: “Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”

“Me: “This is obviously a clog. How about I take it apart and check the internal tubing?” NASA: (after five hours of deliberation) “No. You’ll fuck it up and die.” So I took it apart.”

The book took six years to write. It was originally published for free on the authors website after he couldn’t find a publisher. His fans pressured him into putting it on the Kindle so he self published it in 2012 selling it for .99¢. After selling 35,000 copies, it was picked up by a publisher and re-published in 2014. R.C. Ray who narrated the book has been nominated for a 2014 Voice Arts™ Award for The Martian.  A film version directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon is schedule for release in November 2015. This is the authors first novel.

Here’s a list of the nominees for the 2014 Voice Arts Awards for Science Fiction:

Best Audio Book Narration – Science Fiction

● Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Robert Hook, Heather Wilds, Nicholas Guy Smith, Hannah Curtis, Bruce Mann, Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, Penguin Random House Audio
● Scott Aiello, Eve Bianco and Jay Snyder, Deadlocked 5: Aftermath, Audible, Inc.
● Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, January LaVoy and Marc Thompson, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher, Penguin Random House Audio
● R.C. Bray, Ray Chase, Maxwell Glick, Brian Holsopple, Tamara Marston and Chris Patton, Yesterday’s Gone, Season One, by Sean Platt and David Wright, Podium Publishing

http://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=KU3EY7U5

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The A List

Part of Stephen King’s instructions for fledgling writers is to read and read voraciously because “reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” He instructs you to read some books outside of your chosen genre as well. But if you’re going to read, you might as well read the best and to that end I decided to compile a list of the books I found to be the most exceptional and entertaining over the last 15 years.

The reason I have this list is that for some reason I can’t fathom I decided to start keeping  track of all the books I read along with the date I finished them and a rating from A to F. While I agree with King’s statement, there sure are a lot of mediocre books to get through before you can come up with an A list. On the other hand, the difference between an A and an A- rating is purely subjective but I had to cut things off somewhere.

Since the list is so long I decided to first list the books ranked in the A+s with the full list below that for those who don’t want to wade through the entire thing.

It’s interesting to see how your reading tastes change over the years. In the year 2000 I was reading strictly SF but then quite a bit later I decided to get a taste of some literary works, mystery thrillers, a few miscellaneous non fiction categories and once I decided to pursue writing myself, you’ll notice some non fiction books on the craft of writing start to appear. Also keep in mind that since I prefer SF for the most part my ratings on literary works may be somewhat askew but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

thesparrowI have several books that have haunted me for several years after reading them that my thoughts keep coming back to. One which I gave only a C+ rating to because I found it difficult to read about the horrendous things that happen to the main character is The Sparrow by Mary Dora Russell. If you read it you probably won’t forget it and not necessarily in a bad way considering the exceptional writing. See a summary of it in my post Science Fiction and Religion.

Ender’s Game (A+++) by Orson Scott Card.  I don’t think about it often but once in awhile when I read or hear the title mentioned I grin and remember one of the most genius endings to a novel I’ve ever read. The sequel, Speaker For The Dead, was excellent as well.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (A+) by Carsen McCullers has an unforgettable ending that hits you like a hammer and made me break down crying.

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn is brilliant for the way it effortlessly unites several of the characters’s story lines that elegantly merge for a satisfying ending.

eifelheim

The greatest series of books I’ve ever read: Well, there is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series and the seemingly endless Dune novels, but more recently I would have to say The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (A++)  trilogy by Stieg Larsson because of this uniquely fascinating mystery and the formidable power of the character Lisbeth Salander. And, for you fans it looks like the series may continue with a fourth book to be published in 2015. Second would be the Manifold Time series by Stephen Baxter with the character Reid Malenfant who every nerd should aspire to be. At a time when the world was turning inward to try to resolve man’s misuse of the planet, Malenfant bootstrapped some mothballed shuttle engines and decided to blast off into space with the idea of mining and colonization and, despite all of the naysayers, gets the job done.

Around 2011 I started purchasing audio books to listen to while I exercised. Audio books are quite a different experience from a visual read and the narrator can make or break a book. The best non fiction audio book on writing I’ve listened to hands down is Stein On Writing by Sol Stein narrated by Christopher Lane. Best audio fiction is by a wide margin The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz narrated by Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell.

And speaking of exercising, I have to include the best book on exercising I’ve ever read: Ready, Set, Go! by Phil Campbell (A++). Not only are the exercises practical for all age ranges (as long as you’re healthy) but full research documentation for every routine or supplement he suggests is provided in the right hand margin of the book. Coming in a strong second is The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss.

Favorite authors? Stephen King has recently moved to the top with such books as The Dome and 11/22/63, Robert Sawyer with his The Neanderthal Parallax series and many others, and Stephen Baxter’s Manifold series .

This list wouldn’t be complete without pointing out at least a few of the worst books I’ve ever read or attempted to read. I’m sure I’ll be taken to task by some of you for this but you’ll find it at the end of this post.

Here’s the A+ list (book title, author, year read and rating):

  • Timeships Stephen Baxter 2000 A+
  •  Mr. China’s Son Liyi He (nonfiction) 2000 A++
  • Doomsday Book Connie Willis 2001 A+++
  • Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card 2001 A+++
  • The Time Machine H.G. Wells 2011 A++
  • Speaker For The Dead Orson Scott Card 2002 A+
  • Dracula Bram Stoker 2002 A+
  • Timeline Michael Crichton 2003 A++
  • Darwin’s Radio Greg Bear 2003 A+
  • Peyton Place Grace Metalious 2004 A+
  • Da Vinci Code Dan Brown 2005 A++
  • To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee 2006 A+
  • East Of Eden John Steinbeck 2006 A+
  • The Forge Of God Greg Bear 2006 A+
  • The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers 2007 A+
  • Blood Music Greg Bear 2007 A+
  • Time Traveler Dr. Ronald L. Mallett (nonfiction) 2008 A+
  • Rollback Robert Sawyer 2008 A+
  • Infinity Beach Jack McDevitt 2008 A+
  • Eifelheim Michael Flynn 2009 A++
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger 2009 A+
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson 2010 A++
  • Moonfall Jack McDevitt 2011 A+
  • Immediate Fiction Jerry Cleaver (nonfiction) 2011 A+
  • The Dome Stephen King 2011 A+
  • Stephen King On Writing (nonfiction) 2011 A+
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire Stieg Larsson 2011 A++
  • Stein On Writing Sol Stein (nonfiction audio) 2011 A++
  • Alas Babylon Pat Frank (audio) 2011 A+
  • No Plot No Problem Chris Baty (nonfiction) 2011 A+
  • The Last Symbol Dan Brown 2011 A+
  • The 4-Hour Body Timothy Ferriss (nonfiction) 2012 A+
  • 11/22/63 Stephen King 2012 A+
  • Ready, Set, Go! Phil Campbell (nonfiction) 2012 A++
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest Stieg Larsson A++
  • Pillars Of The Earth Ken Follett 2013 A+
  • The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Juno Diaz (audio) 2013 A+
  • 2k To 10k Writing Faster, Writing Better Rachael Aaron (nonfiction) 2013 A+
  • The Dog Stars Peter Heller 2013 A+
  • WWW: Wonder Robert Sawyer 2013 A++
  • No Wonder You Feel Like Crap (nonfiction) Richard Weinstein (nonfiction) 2013 A+
  • Write, Publish, Repeat Johnny B. Truant (nonfiction) 2013 A+
  • The Goldfinch Donna Tartt 2014 A+

The A List:

  • Einstein’s Bridge John Camer 2001 A
  • First Men In The Moon H.G. Wells 2001 A
  • Robinson Crusoe Danial Defoe 2002 A
  • Ghost Story Peter Straub 2002 A
  • Angels & Demons Dan Brown 2004 A
  • Hominids Robert Sawyer 2004 A
  • Hyperion Dan Simmons 2004 A
  • The Fall Of Hyperion Dan Simmons 2004 A
  • Human Robert Sawyer 2005 A
  • Manifold Time Stephen Baxter 2005 A
  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Jack Finney 2005 A
  • Mars Crossing Geoffrey Landis 2005 A
  • Calculating God Robert Sawyer 2005 A
  • Manifold Space Stephen Baxter 2005 A
  • Planet Of The Apes Pierre Boulle 2006 A
  • Household Gods Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove 2006 A
  • Factoring Humanity Robert Sawyer 2006 A
  • Time Machines: The Best Time Travel Stories Ever Written Bill Adler (nonfiction) 2008 A
  • Sunstorm Arthur C. Clark & Stephen Baxter 2008 A
  • First Time Legend Of Garrison Fitch 2008 A
  • Breaking The Time Barrier: The Race To Build A Time Machine Jenny Randles (nonfiction) 2009 A
  • Life Is So Good George Dawson (nonfiction) 2009 A
  • Blind Lake Robert Charles Wilson 2009 A
  • Vacuum Diagrams Stephen Baxter 2009 A
  • Deep Six Jack McDEvitt 2009 A
  • Blasphemy Douglas Preston 2010 A
  • Chindi Jack McDevitt 2010 A
  • Replay Ken Grimwood 2010 A
  • WWW: Watch Robert Sawyer 2010 A
  • Multireal David Louis Edelman 2010 A
  • Water For Elephants Sara Gruen (audio) 2011 A
  • Day By Day Armageddon J.L. Bourne (audio) 2012 A
  • The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins 2012 A
  • Inside Story Dara Marks (nonfiction) 2012 A
  • The Art Of War For Writers James Scott Bell (nonfiction) 2012 A
  • The Hidden Reality Brian Green (nonfiction audio) 2012 A
  • How To Write A Novel In 30 Days Nicholas Black (nonfiction) 2012 A
  • The Modern Scholar: From Here To Infinity Michael Drout (nonfiction audio) 2012 A
  • UR Stephen King 2013 A
  • Doctor Yourself Andrew W. Saul (non fiction) 2013 A
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T. Kiyosaki (nonfiction) 2013 A
  • Leviathan Wakes James Cory (audio) 2013 A
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan (audio) 2013 A
  • Shiva Descending Gregory Benford 2014 A

The worst of the worst:

  • Flatland  Edwin Abbot So boring I couldn’t finish it.
  • Neuromancer William Gibson Too jargony and confusing.
  • Rainbow Mars Larry Niven Never liked SF comedy.
  • Dianetics  L. Ron Hubbard Not only dull but it didn’t make any sense (I hope Tom Cruise isn’t reading this).
  • The Sirens Of Titan Kurt Vonnegut  Hey, don’t hate me because I slammed Kurt. I read all of  God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and loved it — even the very lengthy narrative about the world’s longest pubic hair.
  • Einstein’s Dreams Alan Lightman No reason. Just hated it.
  • Flood Stephen Baxter He goes into lengthy travel log descriptions of streets and settings in England which would only be of interest to those who live there.
  • Death With Interruptions Jose Saramago Had to stop. No characters, no plot.
  • The Power Of Full Engagement Jim Loehr Too long winded with little substance.
  • The Gift Lewis Hyde Ponderous, boring, wordy.
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Dream Writing

Artist Dreaming

Dream your dream of art
Dreams with passion to create
Never waking from its light
Lift your head
Never lay it down

Create your dreams
Paint it, live it, embrace it
Dream what you are
Dream it true
Tonight the dreams are all for you

Jara Son of Ahaz

————————————

I’m trying to form a new writing habit by getting up at 7 am and writing for a few hours when it’s nice and quiet with no interruptions. A side effect of this is that by early afternoon I long for a nap. I try to avoid doing that because I want my new hours to  become a normal part of my daily routine. But quite often I give in.

After what just happened during my last nap, I’m not so sure I want to avoid them in the future.

I had a dream. I don’t remember my dreams often, but portions of this one were very clear to me. I was sitting in a chair behind a desk that had a couple of book stacks on either side. On the center of the desk was a tablet on which I was making entries.  I looked up and there was a girl in the center of the room who appeared to be around high school age. She was pacing the room in an agitated state. She was of average height, thin but very fit and athletic. Her face wasn’t very clear to me, but she had short blond hair with bangs covering her forehead. Her eyes had dark rings around them as if she hadn’t gotten much sleep.  She avoided looking at me while talking rapidly in an angry tone of voice. 

teen blond w-bangs 1-26-14

She looked familiar enough to make me think this wasn’t the first meeting that we’d had. I was listening intently to what she was saying, like a professional might listen to a client. The focus was all on her. I would say something once in a while in response, but don’t recall anything I actually said.

She was serious and determined to get her point across to me so that I understood her situation or what might be a predicament.

I remember several things she said which went something like this: “Why me, I don’t deserve this, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen. I’m horrible, I couldn’t do that, I didn’t. But I remember that, I must have done it.”

More important than her words, I remember the emotions behind them, the anger, the horror of what she was experiencing. This was close to a nightmare but hadn’t quite crossed over into that realm probably because I was detached from the situation, not wanting to get caught up in it.

She continued talking for awhile and then the dream ended. When I woke up I remember thinking, that was odd. I got up and didn’t think about it anymore, letting my memory of the dream fade away.

Several hours later I had a flash of insight about who the girl was. I knew without a doubt who I had been talking to and I understood why I felt like I knew her. She was a character in a story I’ve been writing for about three months. My character goes through a very horrific ordeal which requires that she regularly see a psychiatrist. In my dream I was playing the  role of psychiatrist and she was my client.

I have no doubt she was my character. In the story she is pretty, a star of her volleyball team, boy crazy, and full of teenage angst which matched the girl I was talking to in my dream. She has a right to be angry and refused to sit down because she doesn’t want to give in to any adults because they don’t understand her. Sitting down would be interpreted by her as a capitulation to adult authority.

I’ve dreamt about situations related to my writing before, about a conflict or dilemma in a scene I’m writing, but never a specific character.

I’ve read about other writers who experience characters who appear to them, direct them on what to say next, and almost write the story for them. That led me to wonder what other writers experience in the realm of dreams while trying to finish their current work in progress? I discovered that some of them find their own and others dreams really quite boring and some have had some pretty wild rides in dreamland ranging from hilarious to downright scary.

“All fiction should originate from your dreams, not from your mind.” said Pulitzer prize winning novelist Robert Olen Butler (Had a Good Time, etc.). He was absolutely serious when he said it. He explains the how and why of it in his 2006 book  ‘From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction’ which also includes links to videos he prepared on the subject.

Stephenie Meyer woke up from an intense dream where two young lovers were lying together in a meadow and wrote ‘Twilight’. Mary Shelley saw Frankenstein’s monster in a dream and started writing about the circumstances under which he was created. The concept for ‘Sophie’s Choice’ was such a powerful dream that the author dropped everything he was doing to capture and write down that vision.

‘Salem’s Lot’ by Stephen King  includes a nightmare he had as an eight year old child about a boy who saw a man hanging from a gallows who reached out to grab Stephen as he came closer. The boys in the basement, as Stephen likes to call the inner wellspring of his stories, were very busy when he wrote ‘Misery’ which was launched from a dream about a woman who held a writer prisoner, killed him and fed his remains to her pet pig. In fact, he claims that when he sits down at the beginning and end of a writing session, he is aware that he is writing. But the middle part is where things get interesting. This is his semi-dreaming state where the world is gone and he can remember forgotten things, where writing is like an adult version of a child’s high speed flip book that you can mix and match for an almost unlimited number of events, personalities and things.

Isabel Allende, an international author (House of Spirits, Ripper, Island Beneath the Sea), refers to this semi dreaming place where you can finally listen; as if you had a storage room where you have information that can’t be reached when you’re awake. But the information isn’t just in her mind, it is more like it was drawn from the air and was always there for the taking if one can find a way to tune it in. Sounds as if she’s talking about a storehouse of knowledge that’s free for the taking if you know how to access it, sort of like a collective memory or consciousness maybe.

Clive Barker (The Great and Secret Show, Hellraiser, Books of Blood, Weaveworld) views himself as being in a kind of dream state during most of his writing sessions. He talks to himself, seldom blinks (which is why he can’t wear his contacts while writing), and long stretches of time pass without his being aware of it. Sounds like he might be kind of shocking to look at while he’s in this kind of zombie like state. Clive believes that each of us is capable of entering another state of consciousness sometimes through dreams, sometimes though art or sex, where we experience something outside of ourselves, something just as validly real as the earthly plain that we normally occupy. During these times we can experience a learning or healing from ideas and images and from the spiritual presence of others alive, dead, or journeying like we are.

Spalding Gray, actor, creator of popular monologues, and novelist thinks that dreams are often nothing more than stuff that is in the air, like radio waves that we tap into and intermingle with.

Hm, sounds like we have a trend going here. Semi-dreaming state, collective memory, kind of a oneness that we all share.

Do I believe any of this? Yes I do. Scientists are beginning to explain the flow of time as being caused by particles entangling with surrounding particles in their environment in an attempt to achieve an equilibrium state. If that’s how time functions, it’s a short step (although at this point not a scientifically provable one) to believe that human consciousness can ‘entangle’ as well forming a kind of external collective. Some of us may be more tuned in to this entangled collective than others perhaps with the ability to access it voluntarily or involuntarily. Maybe our human aging is nothing more than the particles that make us up trying to achieve equilibrium with their environment. Maybe as we begin to understand how the process of entanglement works, by trying to create useful generalized quantum computers, we may be able to speed up or slow down the entanglement itself and thus speed up or slow down ________ (time, aging?). You fill in the blank.

Maybe we’re getting a little sidetracked here, but are we really? Sharing you dreams with your significant other is one thing but actually sharing the same dream is another. The first person in modern times to document telepathic dreaming was none other than Sigmund Freud.  He produced a model to express his ideas about telepathic dreaming and in 1922 wrote a paper called ‘Dreams and Telepathy’. How does that happen? Is it a form of telepathy? Is it an external source that is tuned into allowing subconscious communication somehow? Or is it a form of entanglement? And when we dream alone, is it a totally internal thing from our subconscious that we experience or is it in some part tied in with our environment or our external world?

Well, whatever is going on, I’ve only scratched the surface. Dream writing is a common occurrence for a multitude of writers. Maybe good writing is nothing more that finding a way to govern your dream life while awake by entering a semi dreaming state and recording you dreams immediately after waking up and maybe even orchestrating them by thinking about your story or characters just before you go to sleep so your subconscious can do the heavy lifting.

iStock_MotherWithKnife 5-8-14SmallIn fact, in his books and lectures Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler states that in order to write well you have to go to the place where you dream even if it’s a very, very scary place.

You have plenty of defense mechanisms to keep you out of there, but you have to defeat them if you ever expect to create a work of art. Support for this concept comes from science which has determined that the kind of brain wave patterns you emit while you are creating is very similar to your brain patterns during sleep.

Some people believe that when you dream of a fictional character your subconscious is signaling that you are on the  verge of an important discovery or perhaps an impending doom.  Hindus say that if you dream of birth, then death of a family member or friend will soon follow. And the reverse is true: birth means death. All Hindus have been taught that life is a dream and you only reach salvation when you extinguish that illusion and become one with the cosmic soul.

I’ve never practiced lucid or guided dreaming but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been struggling with a problem regarding writing or something else and come up with the solution in the middle of sleeping or first thing the next morning. So a safer bet for me is that the dream about my character was my subconscious trying to assist me in sorting out who this character really is or could be so that I can carry the story forward. My dreams are more like a problem solving machine that helps work things out that I can’t resolve during the day. And when I wake up I have the solution that my dreams have worked out for me. At least that’s one interpretation of ‘reality’. So give it a try. Write down your question or conundrum on a piece of paper and tuck it under your pillow before you go to sleep. You may actually dream up an answer.

Since I’ve started writing this article, I’ve had two additional dreams that have actually proved useful in my writing. I hope this is a trend. The first dream involved a mentally challenged adult who was attempting to walk to a destination where he could be with some people he thought were his friends but was being discouraged by his peers and by the people who seemed to be his caretakers (parents perhaps). He finally broke away and ended up having a wonderful time with this group who were siting in an outdoor restaurant with a very festive atmosphere, the kind you might find in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

The second dream, which seemed to come in two parts, was about a woman who was very attractive but never seemed to be able to sustain a permanent relationship. One night she finds a young boy about eight years old knocking on her door who is seeking asylum from his abusive alcoholic parents. She and the boy develop a bond over the next year and a half and she eventually ends up adopting him after the parents give up their parental rights.

Both the mentally challenged man and the woman who adopted the boy are going to appear in a novel I’m currently working on.

Then, of course, there is always the concept that characters you invent in your dreams are conscious entities in and of themselves. Who knows, if they’re developed enough, they may dream about you. And if they do, what happens to you when they wake up? Lewis Carroll summed it up nicely in ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ when Alice is having a conversation with Tweedledee and Tweedledum:

“He’s dreaming now,’ said Tweedledee: ‘and what do you think he’s dreaming about?’
Alice said ‘Nobody can guess that.’
‘Why, about YOU!’ Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. ‘And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?’
‘Where I am now, of course,’ said Alice.
‘Not you!’ Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. ‘You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!’
‘If that there King was to wake,’ added Tweedledum, ‘you’d go out—bang!—just like a candle!”

My dream gave me a better understanding of my character and how she would react to events and situations she encounters in the story. It just makes her more legitimate in my mind like I’m actually writing about a person that could exist in reality. I hope this gets to be a regular habit.

Call it what you want. Dream state, self hypnosis, or the golden place, a good share of successful writers claim that you have to find your own special way of getting there if you’re going to be an exceptional writer. It’s like saying that writing springs from a guided dream.  Imagine that. All of your effort, your energy, your extemporaneous ideas happen on their own, somewhat beyond your ability to control them. If that’s true, then you can’t impose your will on the writing. You must let things run free and respect what your dream state is telling you.

If you’re wondering what my story that I talked about earlier is about, let’s just say it’s a SF story about a teenager, a CDC investigator, a university researcher and a serial killer. It’s been story boarded, the beats are done, and I’m close to finishing the first draft. Maybe it will make the leap off my hard drive to actual publication.

Of course, having characters you are writing about appear in your dreams can have its downside. What if the next character I encounter is the serial killer. Not sure how I would deal with that. Hopefully I’ll play the part of the cop who nabs him and not one of his victims.

For those interested in pursuing this topic further, there are two books on which part of this article was based which I would highly recommend: ‘Writers Dreaming by Naomi Epel will give you an idea of how writers not only make use of their dreams but a lot of intimate details about their writing process and ‘From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler’ will teach you how to enter and make use of the dream state for more effective writing and why ditching your writing journal and keeping just an emotional journal is so important.

Have you ever written anything that was inspired by a dream?

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Review of Write, Publish, Repeat

You may be familiar with the Self-Publishing Podcast – hosted by Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright – which has featured a wide variety of people doing unique and interesting things in the world of self-publishing. These podcasters have taken what they’ve learned from guests on their podcast as well as what they’ve gleaned from the numerous book series they’ve already published and combined them into a mammoth entertaining treatise called Write, Publish, Repeat (The No-Luck-Required To Self-Publishing Success).

This book gives you an inside look at the collaborative writing process of a team of three extremely prolific writers. These guys are not afraid of burning the midnight oil and their organizational skills and work ethic are something to be admired. They are responsible for such series as Yesterday’s Gone, The Beam,  and Unicorn Western.

Write Publish Repeat Book Cover 12-28-13

Several insights I gained from the book could prove quite helpful in organizing my writing process. The first is the concept of writing about situations as opposed to actually writing a story. I used to start writing with a partial plot and a given character situation rather than a well thought out story that had an Act III with an actual ending. This makes a big difference if you ever hope to finish a short story or novel and I can count on one hand the number of works I’ve actually finished due in large part to not thinking through a complete story before the actual writing begins. Some free writing  pantsers will of course disagree but keep in mind thinking things through to an ending doesn’t mean you are locked in to that ending.  During the past six months I have put a lot more focus on endings when I start a project but the concept of situation vs. story put a handle on it and reinforced the importance of having a three act story, nailing down an ending even if you end up changing it in the final stretch.

The second concept which I think I’ll find the most useful is the technique of beat writing as a precursor to actually writing the first draft. Writing the beats of a book is not an outline but is more akin to Cliffnotes or writing chapters and scenes in shorthand so that you have a guide to follow when you actually dig in to preparing your first draft. As the authors phrase it, “[Story Beats look like] they were written by someone who was barely paying attention”. When actually writing the draft, you don’t have to completely echo the beats but at least it gives you a guide to follow and speeds up the first draft process.

unicorn-western-full-sagaHere’s an example of beats that the authors offered from their book Unicorn Western written for children and teens. Please excuse the profanity but that’s just the way this beat writer rolls:

Chapter 5: Clint is now all angry and grizzled and fuck everyone, so he decides to go up on the Mesa, and use Edward’s magic to look across the plains and see what he can see. As he’s leaving town, he’s approached by Theodore (mention him earlier), an orphan kid who does odd jobs for everyone. Teddy wants to go with Clint, but Clint tells him he can’t. He’s too young and will get himself killed. Teddy insists, and reminds Clint that he was looking for reinforcements. Two is almost worse than one since it’s more like a tagalong. He either needs a lot of people, or he needs to be by himself. The kid sticks up for himself, and after a short and funny argument wins Clint’s approval. He finally agrees to let him go. He has his own horse, but he’s so poor that his horse is the cowboy equivalent of a Pinto. Edward acts like a cock about it. They ride out of Solace together. Clint feels guilty during the ride, wanting to go back to Mai. He thinks about his haunted past, and how lonely he’s always been. How maybe all of his habits are wrong. Maybe the best thing he could do would be to return to Solace, sweep Mai onto the back of Edward, then ride through the night on their first day toward The Realm. Not far from the Mesa, they run into trouble. A band of outlaws is stopping by a stew pool, wells of water scattered throughout The Sprawl. The water inside stew pools is replenishing for mind and body. One might say magical. 

Chapter 6: The kid wants to charge them, and knows the Marshal could do it. Clint tells him he’s a fucktard and too young to know it. The kid argues that Clint’s too old, and that his instincts are dull. Clint smacks him down, articulating why he’s the king of the motherfucking desert. Way Clint sees it, no one’s in The Sprawl by accident, and it makes a lot more sense to see what they’re up to than to kill them outright. The kid argues that they need the element of surprise. Clint checkmates his shit because the element of surprise isn’t dick when you ride with a unicorn. Clint tells some story about the kid that shows he’s an impulsive fuckup, then they agree to circle around and use Edward’s magic to see what they can find out.

______________________________

So I sat down to write some beats to a short story I had outlined with sticky notes on a storyboard that I put together a week ago with cardboard and duct tape. See below. I use this board for short stories and I’ll be using a larger linear board for novels (you can see part of it in the background).

IMG_2413For examples of what these look like up close see my article on The Process of Writing.

I started the beat writing at Chapter 1, Scene 1 and ended up buzz sawing through the first 5 chapters and scenes in a flood of writing. It was as if my subconscious had finally found a method to release what it had already worked out for this particular story. Was it pretty? No it’s a hack job of word streaming but I can clearly  see where I’m  headed in the story and have a great guide to actually writing a first draft. Here’s a beat story example of a chapter and scene from my short story, working title ‘Diorama’:

Chap 2 Scn 2: Ruth Holden is tossing and turning in bed and can’t sleep. She starts running through her mind what a hell on Earth the past couple of months have been. Her field supervisor sent her to Lansing, Michigan after an influx of 200 patients invaded all of the surrounding hospital emergency rooms reporting hallucinatory symptoms involving severe headaches along with the belief that they are recalling repressed memories they didn’t know existed. The patient population is growing so fast it appears to be some kind of airborne virus, the most rapidly infectious kind of pathogen. Ruth and her containment team descend on the capital city as well as East Lansing where the university is located with a fleet of CDC vans. They set up shop at one of the local hospitals. Patients entering the hospital who report symptoms of the hallucinatory virus now known as the Hal-Virus must be screened by the hazmat suited team to be tested for  possible pathogens. Once cleared by the hazmat team, all patients are send back to the emergency room to be assessed for possible admission to the psych wards. Physicians are at a loss about what to do and the psych wards are rapidly getting beyond capacity. Spillovers are being sent to county jails for safekeeping.

 Psychiatrists start treating victims with atypical antipsychotic drugs the most effective being Closaril which is used in treating hallucinations and delusions. Unfortunately while the anxiety of the patients are reduced the foreign memories persist.

Ruth recalls the most interesting of recent cases involving Lilly Thomson, a psychiatric nurse at a nearby hospital, who started talking to her patients about her new found hobby of coin collecting and how a hobby might be helpful in distracting them from the influx of new memories they’ve been experiencing. That went well until she told them that her hobby involved collecting Roman coins from the 4th century with elaborate details about the homes, culture and habits of the locals of that period that were too accurate and realistic. Later she claimed that she actually lived in the 4th century as a Roman prefect by the name of Flavius Filagrius who was in charge of a strategic granary and given the title of Praefectus Augustalis. She was admitted to the ward to reside among her patients.

There have been confirmed outbreaks of the Hal-Virus outside of the U.S. in London, Paris, and the Philippines.

A large percentage of people can’t shake the feeling that what they’re experiencing are repressed memories of things they have done in the past and they are either so foreign, exotic or barbarian that they lose touch with their former reality and have to be admitted for psychiatric care.

Ruth is at a loss as to how to deal with a virus that  so far has been undetectable with present day technology. There appears to be only one thing left to do. Narrow down the search to patient zero or at least hone in on the source of the infection.

Ruth’s phone rings and its her assistant Bill Pullman who informs her that they have a Dr. Dane Gilmore who voluntarily turned himself in to the MSU Campus Police claiming that he may have caused the Hal-Virus and he has some important information which could shed light on this whole thing. What do you want us to do with him?

Hold him and don’t let him out of your sight! I’ll be right over.

______________________________

I found that combining beats with a well thought out storyboard just might get me through that first draft a lot faster. It probably will considering that the story beats consist of a free flowing summary of the entire story including all chapters and scenes.

One pleasing result from using beats is that my characters started to distinguish themselves from one another and two more characters popped up to let me know they had to be part of the action so I wrote them in. Beats freed me up to just write without worrying about dialog,  grammar or smooth flowing narrative. The faster you write them the less chance your critical self has to engage and interfere with getting it all down. In fact, the authors recommend that you finish the beats as well as the first draft absolutely as fast as you can to avoid having to worry about perfection.

                              ______________________________

I have given you only a small sampling of what you’ll find in Write, Publish, Repeat. Besides being an entertaining read the book is loaded with ideas related to editing, publishing, and marketing such as the self publishing landscape, pre-production and post-production, funnel marketing, keyword research, Scrivener vs. Word and Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace plus many more.

One last bit of wisdom that could be useful is that if you aren’t enjoying what you’re writing, if it doesn’t get you excited when you think about it, scrap it and start something else. They’re not saying that writing isn’t hard work or a grind sometimes but if you don’t get excited or enthused about once in awhile, it’s time, to opt out and start another project. I believe that’s true.

The authors plan on releasing more books in the near future regarding their writing process which I’m definitely looking forward too.

Amazon: Write, Publish, Repeat

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Ray Bradbury

Sorry the other link was broken. Here’s the new one.

If you’re as aspiring writer, watch this. You can thank me later.

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Humans Are Stupid

It’s difficult for me to conceptualize what an alien might look like because they could travel along a completely different evolutionary path. That’s probably why I’ve avoided writing any stories that include aliens.

Here are two creatures on our own planet that look like they couldn’t possibly have evolved here. Maybe they developed from alien spores that drifted in from space.
Below is the Red-Lipped Batfish found near the Galapagos Islands. He doesn’t even know how to swim but walks on the bottom of the ocean floor. He looks like he could start singing the theme song from Rocky Horror Picture Show at any moment and take a jump to the left.

I had an exchange with him on Twitter the other day that went like this:

Batfish: I’m a fish that can’t swim. I walk around on the ocean floor all day. What fish does that. Duh! Can you say Alien.
Rick: You’ve got a point. Where on earth did you get those lips.
Batfish: Not on Earth dummy. Come on, you know you want to kiss them. If you think my lips are something you should see my sisters. Hey let’s just get down to it. I’m an Alien, if you had half a brain you’d know I’m an Alien. All humans are stupid. 
Rick: Whoa there Batfish! You’ve exceeded the 140 character limit.
Batfish: Bite me! How do you think I did that? Stupid human.

This Venezuelan Poodle Moth was discovered in 2009 and looks like he just stepped out of Seth Brundle’s telepod from the movie The Fly. We discovered this guy in 2009? Are you kidding me. He probably stopped by for a vacation and will fly back to Venus’ upper cloud deck any day now. You can see the resemblance to Seth below.

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Bigfoot War, The Review

I should qualify my review with the fact that I am not a horror buff but do occasionally read horror and SF Horror by major authors.

Bigfoot War: A man returns from the Iraq war with the single minded purpose of seeking vengeance against the Sasquatch who murdered his entire family and will stop at nothing until he sees the creature dead at his feet. His actions incite more mayhem and destruction than the small town residents of Babble Creek could ever have imagined.

I would describe Bigfoot War as an irreverent, campy, pulpy, and bloody romp through the backwoods of North Carolina with no apparent ending in sight. Why no ending? Because this is just one of 11 or so books in the series and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more in the works. There is pint-sized character development and no real surprises other than the innovatively horrendous ways people can die at the hands of really badass hairy creatures that have two settings: real angry and really, really angry.

They’re even angrier than this guy and he’s pretty darn angry:

Don’t anticipate a moral to this story, don’t expect deep seated character angst, and don’t look for a silver lining. This ain’t your grandmas ‘aw they don’t mean no harm’ bigfoot. This one is bigger than big, cranium crunching, wants-your-innards-for-breakfast bigfoot.

You can expect more thunder thighed Squatchies than your head swiveling can track to scramble out of the woods at about 45 mph and beat the crap out a yah with lots of intestinal (don’t ask) action and mayhem.

Now I thought with a description like that my opinion of the novel was going to be a big thumbs down. I was wrong.  Despite the fact that I like to view myself as someone who enjoys his novels sprinkled with at least a modicum of literary snootiness, the fact is this book was all in all a hoot to read and more entertaining than I expected.

And you know I probably will see the movie version that has a tentative release date of January 10, 2014. I’m hoping it will be be just as much of a hoot and holler as the book was.

I’m inspired to write a fan fiction spaghetti western called  ‘Squatchie Fandango’. I’ve sent off a script treatment to Quentin Tarantino and I’m sure in a parallel universe he will be responding any day now.

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Horror SF And The Squatchie Apocalypse

 He’s large and hairy, stinks real bad and looks kinda humanoid in a fluffy shagged up sort of way. He lurks around the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada but can pop up pretty much anyplace else if you look real close.

You’ve seen the blurry photos, the rash of TV specials, the You Tube videos of the man-beast Bigfoot formerly know as Sasquatch. I think even PBS took a serious look into this cult phenomena a few times. No I’m not talking about the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society, I mean the TV station.

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (oh yeah, it’s real) estimates that Mr. Abominable has been spotted 3,313 times since 1921 to present day. Each dot in the image below represents a report of a sighting. Each dot represents a person who thinks he/she had a Bigfoot encounter. You know who you are but I can’t help you. No one can help you.

BigfootMap3Yes I’m making fun but I really shouldn’t because you see I have a somewhat personal connection to this elusive creature or more likely his second cousin known as Yeti because of this man.

My father-in-law was a federal employee for many years before his retirement. His boss was Dr. George Moore, MD, pictured on the left who was a highly respected public health professional. At one point in his career Dr. Moore was chief of the Public Health Division of  Foreign Operations and found himself pioneering a health program in Nepal. One day in 1953 he headed an expedition in the Gosainkund Pass along with staff member George Brooks. The two of them had moved ahead of their pack-laden porters and entered a thick forest at 17,000 feet. Hearing a loud scream and the rustling of leaves, they drew their .38 S&Ws and scrambled up a large boulder to get a better look at what was causing the sounds.

With a start Moore saw a hideous face appear from within a clump of large bushes. He recalls it as having grayish skin, beetling black eyebrows, a mouth extending from ear to ear and long yellowish teeth. “Yellow beady eyes looked at him with obvious demoniacal cunning and anger”.

A five foot tall hairy angry looking creature ran half crouching from the misty bushes baring two protruding fangs and a long flicking tail behind it.

To their astonishment, six or seven other creatures emerged from the mist with one carrying a baby around its neck. With the creatures only ten feet away all the men could think of was to try and scare them by firing above their heads. The tactic worked and the animals retreated back from where they came.

An entire account of Dr. Moore’s  discovery entitled ‘I Met The Abominable Snowman’ was published in the May 1957 issue of Sports Afield complete with an artistic reconstruction of scenes.

Given the relentless sightings and the dedicated souls who pursue this creature day and night, an experienced penman would sooner or later feel motivated to write a compelling true story to bring this all into proper perspective and win accolades along with blockbuster creative nonfiction revenues. Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead Eric S. Brown decided to pen a rip roaring adventure series that captured the imagination of a multitude of readers and along the way got a big shout from a few cunning producers in Tinseltown.

Now come on, really? Yes, really.

How do you predict when a book series will take off into the stratosphere? You can’t. But one thing that helps make it possible is lots and lots of writing experience and that is what Brown has with 50 books published in the last 12 years. That’s right, an average of 4 books a year! True, most of them are novellas but still 4 a year is well beyond the average writers ability not to mention motivation.

One day Brown tired of writing about zombies and decided to focus on a series called Bigfoot War. He wrote five novellas about how Sasquatch comes out of the hills of North Carolina and starts biting and pummeling everyone in sight.

Munching on small town innocent people soon became passé for Sasquatch so he ravenously set his sights on taking over the entire planet.

Then Brown changed his mind and decided that he hadn’t quite had enough of zombies and gave birth to Bigfoot War II where, in the middle of the war between man and Bigfoot, hordes of zombies rose up and attacked both humanity and Sasquatch alike. I’m not making this up.

The first novella of the Bigfoot I saga is 121 pages and the rest range from 78 to 154 pages per book. This is pure horror with copious amounts of cutting and slashing. One reviewer said he kept looking for some character development but he never found any. Another said there are very little twists and turns, just more blood and guts.

As far as reviews go, for the first book in the series he has 137 of them on Amazon which average 4 1/2 stars.

Between Bigfoot War 1-5, Bigfoot War: The End, Planet Sasquatch, and a few miscellaneous titles like Rain: A Tale of The Bigfoot Apocalypse and Screamin’ Mad Squatchies, I think there are 11 titles and spinoff titles in the series. The author seems to have run amok right along with his Squatchies.

Is this really science fiction? Technically you can call it SF Horror but then I haven’t read one of the books to give an honest opinion. But that is about to change unless someone stops me. Someone please stop me.

But wait, there’s more ….

To top it off, this series is being adapted for the big screen. Would I lie to you? Casting is done and production started in October. It’s now in post production with a release scheduled for January 2014. And guess whose staring in it?

judd-nelson

That’s right. Judd Nelson will be playing the part of Dr. Leonard Evans.

But hey, what happened to Lance ‘not bad for a human’ Henriksen. I know he was going to be in the original cast and, after all, starred in ‘Abominable’ in 2006 so he’s a logical choice. What a tragic loss. Well maybe he awoke from a stupor and got hit with a wholesome dose of common sense.

So I couldn’t help it. I bought the first book. I just want to see what kind of writing this is even though I detest most horror novels. I said most not all. Who knows maybe he’s a hairy raising action writer who loves his subject matter.

As for the movie, when it comes out in January of next year, will it be a rental or theater viewing? Will I spring for Bigfoot War in IMAX 3D DBOX? It’s not impossible.

Here’s the Logline from the book:

Jeff Taylor was an ordinary boy growing up in the small town of Babble Creek, North Carolina, until one night his life was changed forever when a Sasquatch brutally murdered his family. Taylor fled the town, hoping to leave the painful memory behind. Years later, after two tours of duty in the Iraq War, he’s back in Babble Creek seeking vengeance. Taylor’s lust for the blood of the monster that slew his family sets in motion a series of events that soon has the entire town fighting for its life as a tribe of Sasquatches descend from the forests and hills into Babble Creek to declare war upon its citizens. Babble Creek is about to find out Bigfoot is very real and there’s more than one of the creatures that want to fill the streets with blood..

I just opened Bigfoot War on my Kindle.

First line: “The stink was terrible.”

Oh my.

I’d like to say that I’ll add to this post once I’ve finished the first book in the series but whether I do or not entirely depends on where that terrible stink was coming from.

Amazon: Bigfoot War

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Penguin and the Caped Crusader

                                Penguin and the Caped Crusader

       Better known as the Soul Nebula, IC1848, Constellation- Cassiopeia

click here
©2008-2013 Richard Murray

Science Fiction Stuff:

The total exposure time for this image was 11 hours and 20 minutes. You might be thinking, “That poor devil had to pull several all nighters at the telescope to get that picture.” But remember we live in the science fictional world of the 21st century. Here’s what I actually did.

I purchased an iPod Touch app for $14 that wirelessly duplicates an image of my observatories computer monitor complete with keyboard and mouse control. The observatory computer monitors the telescope to make sure it stays locked on to a guide star so that it doesn’t drift away from the object I’m trying to image. If it does lose its lock, an alarm sounds so that you can manually regain a lock on the guide star. The only thing that the iPod app lacked was sound which means I wouldn’t be able to hear the alarm if it went off. I took care of that with a wireless baby monitor.

So during the hour after hour of images my telescope was robotically taking, I was sound asleep except for having to roll over in my bed once every two or three hours to pick up the iPod Touch and check to make sure the telescope was still tracking. If it lost its tracking, which wasn’t very often, I manually got the tracking back with a few swipes on my iPod Touch and went back to sleep.

Does it really look like that?

No, it doesn’t. Several filters were used that allow you to see only the hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur content of the image. These images were then combined with the result you see; very similar to how NASA processes the Hubble Space Telescope images. The green in the image is the hydrogen, the red is the sulfur and the blue is the oxygen.

There is always some science involved in the taking and processing of these images but there is also a touch of art involved as well. So if you were coming up on this nebula with an FTL (faster than light) spaceship you would see different colors and details but I’m sure it would be even more spectacular.

Now for some fun.

Look below and you’ll see some stereo images I prepared so you can view the Soul Nebula image in 3d.

The first image is the parallel version.  Just stare at the middle of the two images and another image should appear in 3D.

The second image is the cross version.  Just stare at the center of the image while crossing your eyes and another image should appear in 3D. This is the easiest for me to use.


©2008-2013 Richard Murray

Cross Vision Image Pair


©2008-2013 Richard Murray


Notes:
  This is my second narrowband project which is the Soul Nebula right next door to the Heart Nebula.  The weather wasn’t as cooperative this time but I did manage to get most of the image exposures I needed.  I got a full six hours of Ha but only managed half that for the OIII and SII filters.  Still, it turned out pretty well.

Be sure to click on the image for a full size view and also at the bottom, the Read More link will take you to a great article in Universe today about this colorful nebula.

Date(s): 10-3, and 10-4-08
Object: IC1848 Soul Nebula in Cassiopeia
Telescope: Megrez 80mm APO, WO 0.8 FR/FF
Mount: LX90
Camera: Atik 16hr
Guiding:  Lx90 8″ SCT, DSI Pro, Phd Guiding
Filters: Ha 6nm, OIII 15nm, SII 14nm
Exposure: 11 hrs 20 mins Ha 12×30 mins, OIII 10×20 mins, SII 6×20 mins, Binning 1×1
Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CS2, PixInsight, Hubble Palette: SII=Red,Ha=Green,OIII=Blue
Location: Burke Ave. Observatory, Three Rivers, Michigan

Read More

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