Kindle Vella – A new way to bring writers and readers together

Amazon has launched a new platform called Kindle Vella. Unlike traditional Kindle eBooks, Vella is a platform for writers and readers to share feedback – one episode at a time.

The Vella platform offers readers the first three episodes for free. To unlock additional episodes requires an investment in tokens, but from what I have seen, Amazon is currently awarding FREE tokens to readers in the early phase of this platform release. And if you need to buy additional tokens they cost less than the price of a beer in a bar, but unlike the beer, these stories stay with you forever.

So now that you are familiar with the Vella Platform I would like to introduce My Vella Project: End Of Days.

I was waiting for my cousin in his back yard to go kayaking, lying in his hammock, looking up at a ring around the sun. It was a gorgeous day to be alive…. but what if it were my last?

That is how these stories started. I then started asking friends and family: If this was your last day on Earth, how would you feel? Any regrets? Where do you think you would like to be and with whom? How you go out… is left up to me…….

END OF DAYS

Amazon Vella Platform is Live

The Amazon Vella platform has been released. This platform brings writers together with their readers, one episode at a time. My collection of shorts is called End Of Days. I was kicking back with a friend and we got to talking about life, and what if it was our last day on Earth. One of my friends is convinced she is going to be taken out by a Walmart truck. That story, The Price Of Always, will be released next week. I would love to hear what your End Of Days would be–who knows, it might appear here.

If you like the story, select it as your FAVE and I will enjoy your feedback.

Amazon’s Kindle Vella On The Horizon

Amazon will be introducing a new platform for writers and readers called Kindle Vella. If you are familiar with WattPad, it is very similar, allowing the author to release episodes one at a time, while interacting with their readers. This methodology has proven very effective for new writers on WattPad, including me, but add to this, the robust Kindle authoring platform of Amazon.

The idea is this: The author can release one episode at a time , from 500 – 6,000 words, of a Work In Progress (WIP) and add notes to the end of the episode, facilitating early feedback. The reader gets an early adoption of works by authors they follow. Sounds like a win-win. There is a catch (Being Amazon). The reader can read the first three episodes for free, but to unlock additional episodes, the reader is required to purchase a pack of tokens. The token packs seem pretty incidental

  • 140 tokens (2+ episodes) for $1.99
  • 368 tokens (7+ episodes) for $4.99
  • 770 tokens (15+ episodes) for $9.99

I have not figured out the significance of those numbers, but I’m sure a gazillion was spent on the research of big data and captured user content to arrive at those magic click baits.

There will be an IOS application coming out on Amazon in the upcoming months (as of this writing: 4/21/2021) it is not yet available)

I have already uploaded my first short story (Mylar) under the series title: “End Of Days.” Come back here and look for updates when this becomes available to all.

This is the first story in a series that got me thinking.  How would my family and friends feel about their last day on Earth?  Would their last day be as complacent and torturous as mine? That I can’t help.. I love a twist to a good ending.  Would they be angry or have regrets? Would they feel compassion, love?  Would they have a sense of being cheated or fulfilled in life?  Could I make this into a series of shorts?  So I asked them:  Where would you like to be?  Who would you like to be with?  How do you think you would feel?  But there was one catch–– I choose what takes them out.

Feb 18th (2021) – Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

Feb 18th Don’t miss the MARS Perseverance landing on February 18th – Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC

It seems like only yesterday CURIOSITY landed on Mars, but that took place in 2012, August 6th at 05:17 UTC. I set my alarm and was up at 3:00 AM ET, listening to what seemed a live Sci-Fi broadcast, sitting on the edge of my seat, during the Seven Minutes Of Terror.

But hearing that NASA communication stream of the Curiosity landing was like attending a masterclass of Sci-Fi writing–– a first hand grasp of space chatter and the excitement of the rover descending towards the surface, on its own. This is something every Sci-Fi author has attempted to write.

Looking up into the pink sky at what first appeared to be a meteor entering the atmosphere, we jumped back when a large parachute deployed, slowing what looked like a charred disk beneath it. We watched, trying to make sense of what it was just before a cover jettisoned and the object detached from the chute and began to free-fall in silence towards us. I grabbed the hand of my life mate, turning us on our heels as we began to run, finding cover behind an outcropping. We settled there in the dust and could hear the crackle of rapidly firing thrusters, then nervously peered out at the slowing object and could clearly make out something curled within as it dropped down and dangled from tethers, unfurling as it was lowered onto the surface. The drone above hovered in place, chattering in rapid fire, then the pop of small explosives detached the tethers and the drone arced above and away, crashing into the hills beyond, leaving this alien behind. We watched for some time as it sat motionless, then an arm was raised and perched above it a head that began to rotate in our direction. We ducked out of view, pressing our backs against the jagged wall, breathing rapidly, and having nowhere to go without being seen. We would wait for nightfall and slip away, hoping others have seen this.

 

Don’t miss the MARS Perseverance landing on February 18th – Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC

News briefings and launch commentary will be streamed on NASA TVNASA.gov/liveYouTube.com/NASAJPL and Ustream.tv/NASAJPL. On-demand recordings will also be available on the YouTube and Ustream pages after the live events have finished.

The power required to read this post

There was an expression my father always used: “Nihil liberum est.” My dad was big on Latin, and it means, “Nothing Is Free.”  But if the attached video does not quite do the job and you need to understand what the cost of data might look like in a dark future, read the Sci-Fi trilogy by Peter Watts:  The Rifters Series.

The Rifters series (Starfish, Maelstrom, and βehemoth (which in itself was published in two parts: βehemoth: β-Max , βehemoth: Seppuku) became the catalyst to me becoming an author of Sci-Fi and getting the stories in my head down on digital paper.

The Rifters series underlines the cost of powering the internet, led by a powerful female protagonist, who, if Sci-Fi has a kick-ass water goddess, it is Lenie Clarke.   His character in this series inspired my latest work in progress, Silversides, with an equally strong female protagonist, Nori Matsui, an Exoplanet Marine Biologist.  

As an aside:  When I was living in NYC, searching the shelves of Sci-Fi in the NY Public Library, looking for my next read and stumbling across a paperback by Peter Wats called, Mealstrom, I later discovered it was the 2nd book of a series.  So after reading this page-turner, I went on-line to the NY Public Library system, tracked down books One and Three and had them delivered to my local branch.  Oddly, reading books One and Two out of order made no difference to me, so much so that I wrote to Peter Watts to tell him that.  However, his response to me was not what I expected–– he was a bit upset that I read book two first.   I had explained to him that I was a former Marine Biologist and that reading book One after book TWO was a real treat because book TWO takes place completely under water in the deep see vents of the Pacific.  Oh well…..  His work is brilliant.

 

 

 

A Picture Is Worth… Nothing….

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” was plagiarized and para-phrased after Henrik Johan Ibsen’s death in 1906.  Henrik was a playwright and director who once said; “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” 

So it is fitting that I now say, the plagiarized and para-phrased version you know today has been hi-jacked.  I shouldn’t care, but this is so comically fractal it leaves me wondering about humanity.  What I am seeing on Social Media is disturbing, where a picture now takes well over a thousand words to correctly depict its intension… 

For example:  Here is a picture, I took, In Queens NY one day.  Yes, perfect timing… I just happened to be in the right place at the right time soaking in images on my phone when I came around a corner and saw a body sailing through the air…. HOLY CRAP! WHF!  Now…. If I let that image stand on its own and never showed you what happened  a 1/16th of a second before, well, you would be none the wiser.    

And this is my point.  This is the state of Social Media today.  

So before you post, repost, critique, or look for the result you are searching for…. Remember these images and question what might have happened a 1/16th of a second before or after.  Things are never what they appear.  Take the time and research what you repost.  Don’t just hit the green button—there is no reward…. Just shock…

The image of the falling man was taken at an outdoor fair, presented by the Museum Of Moving Images, Astoria, Queens, New York City.  If you have never been there—it is a must.

What would aliens actually look like?

It is quite easy for a Sci-Fi author to make their aliens very human-like (guilty of charged– as in my upcoming novel, Silversides); trying to write a story where they are nothing like humans creates a lot more work for the author, even if that alien does not have a speaking part.

November Seed

Alien in, November Seed

Both of my novellas (November Seed & From Europa With Love) have aliens that are not human-like and have no dialogue, so to make these stories credible, the biology has to be right.  It helped me immensely that in my former life I was a Marine Biologist–I had been studying alien life forms my entire life it seems and it is not by coincidence that in both my novellas the alien life forms are marine in nature.

Representation of alien in, From Europa With Love

But if you are new to writing Sci-Fi and do not have a background in Marine Biology, there are countless videos like this excellent BBC short from the BBC Ideas section to start you on your way.

So where does a new writer of Sci-Fi get started with understanding alien life?  Below are some good short video to get you on your way.  maybe, just maybe will will find out in our lifetime when we can get a probe below the surface of Europa to explore its thermal vents…. but then again, maybe we do not want to go three.  Europa seems to be a focus for NASA and other scientists as a first strike for alien hunting.  And why not?  t was mine in From Europa With love.

 


Are we living in a Blade Runner World?

I was reading an article on BBC, “Are we living in Blade Runner World,”by David Barnett, about the 1982 flick directed by Ridley Scott, sparked by Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” The article’s author goes on to explain that the depiction of LA (at the time of the movie) was not far off from today and draws some comparisons.

The article then drifts into why writers of science fiction write what they do; are they writing to predict the future? Find out. The article is a great read for anyone who has put off reading Sci-Fi because they think the stories are of weird aliens (which there are), with unpronounceable names and places (guilty as charged), where the dialogue is robotic in cadence, which is false… except for maybe a few newbie writers of Sci-Fi that self publishing has afforded– a terrific thing by the way.

The article shows great insight from Sci-Fi authors, Matthew Kressel and Mary Robinette Kowal, both who have created great works. Do authors of sci-fi write to predict the future? I’m sure many do, but based upon my own experience, I like to think we write depictions based upon current, hyper-social events; like smashing atoms and looking for the sub-particles we expect to see, and spin it from there.

 

The Past Life Of Writing

Looking at this picture of my past I can remember everything about that day: How I felt, whom I was with, where and why I was there.  I can recall the smell the salt in the air and the heat of the sand beneath my feet.

But an odd thing happened the other day while attending a wedding in upstate NY.  My wife and I took a short trip from where we were staying to see the home that our dear friends once owned; it was a warm and beautiful home, a camp as it is referred to, and one  we had been to many times, tucked away in the Adirondacks along Upper Saranac Lake.  This place became the inspiration for the ending to my Sci-Fi novella, November Seed.

When we arrived at the camp, I got out of the car to snap an image and was overcome by a strong sensation of a past life that was my own.  I realized I was standing in the exact location of where a very graphic scene of my story took place.  One I had conjured up in my mind months after leaving here for the last time.

But I was not just standing on that road up in the Adirondacks remembering this scene; I was standing in the road where my main characters were dealing with the end of days, protecting their families and friends. I could see the entrance to the Point down the road and feel the tension rising within, my back pressed against the bark of the oak tree, the Moss 10-gauge held along my thumping chest. I could hear the pick-up truck approaching, its tires crunching along the snow-packed gravel and the tick of the engine getting louder. Then taking a few quick breaths I stepped out into the road with one hand along the trigger, the other signaling the pickup to stop….

I walked over to that tree and held my hand against the bark then turned to look back along the gravel road.  The smell of sulfur in the air seemed so real to me and I looked down at my feet expecting to see the litter of spent cartridge shells sizzling into the snow.   

This is what I enjoy most about writing, dissolving into a hyper-reality where I am alongside my characters; watching and feeling everything they see and do.  If I can go the real-world location and relive what took place there, then I know I have created the perfect scene.

On this date, five years ago. Somewhere in NYC, I began to write.

It is hard to believe that five years ago, on this date in a NYC coffee shop on the upper east side, I started my writing career. You can see other frustrated writers around me, but this cozy place became the catalyst for putting pen to paper, or in my case, fingers to keypad.  Since then, my debut novellas, November Seed & From Europa With Love, continue to have steady daily downloads on Amazon and the fan base, spread over eight countries, is still growing.   So thanks to all who support and push me onwards.

For the past few years I have been working on a full-length novel called Silversides which  takes place on Gliese 581 g.  As a new writer, I discovered why only the most seasoned writers leave the planet to tell a story and why most extraterrestrials come to Earth to kick our ass… because when you leave the planet you have to invent everything.   Along the way, I have written out weak characters and developed new ones, dragging along Kulcin who is the protagonist in, From Europa With Love.  Writing is a process of one step forward, two back but I have made some great plot changes with refined twists and developed a new ending the reader will not see coming.  Finally I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel having received great feedback from Betabooks.co 

I do not follow a linear path and have several other novels in the treatment stage that I am equally excited about, such as: HUM, Suicides Of Spring and Glycerine to name a few.  Recently, I have joined forces with a fellow writer (G+’er) to compile a list of shorts we have written and put out onto various sites, such as: Offworlders.com (my favorite), Wattpad (where one of my shorts made it into their premiere eZine, TEVUN KRUS).and other author/reader sites.  But it is G+ that has taught me to be a better writer because of the  invaluable advice and knowledge learned and shared by such super cool folks.