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.

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Sargassum and the art of writing about what you know

Sargassum, as seen here in the curl of the wave, drifts ashore when the winds are steady, rolling into massive piles along the littoral zone, crucial for the ecology of barrier islands. Is it coincidence or by grand design that it is washing ashore during a super moon, when the highest of tides will push it further up onto the beach, trapping the sand with it to build up our dunes? Here in FL, there is a strong conservation not to clean this up as other states do for the benefit of tourism. A mistake. Some folks see this as an annoyance, their tender virgin feet having to touch it on their way to the water.

But Sargassum serves such an important role in the nurturing of juvenile species of marine life, some who will spend their entire lifecycle within the floating mass known as the Sargassum Sea. Sargassum is one of my favorite seaweeds in the class Phaeophyceae. In fact, my upcoming novel, Silversides, has most of the characters named after a class of macroalgae: Phaedra, Rhodes, Kora, Cody and my protagonist, Nori. Kulcin (main antagonist) on the other hand comes from a previous work, From Europa With Love, and what an antagonist he is. Of all the characters, he refuses to let me write his dialogue. Stuborn….

 

Writers are taught, “Write about what you know.”  But Sargassum?  It does not always need to be a subject matter that you are an expert in.  What it does require is for you to connect with your story in terms that you are an expert in.  In my case, once I named my characters after classes of seaweed, I was able to connect with those characters like never before and my story came to life.

Alien sound coming from Mariana Trench

trenchOriginally reported by The Sun, Researches picked up an alien sound while their hydrophone was over the Mariana Trench.  Although whale like in nature, it does not quite fit the patterns of what researchers already know. To listen to this sound,  Click here.  Initially, they thought it might be a mating call from whales, but they are thrown off by hearing this sound year round.

There was a follow-up piece on Wired,

The mystery of the ‘alien call’ deep in the Mariana Trench is solved

which seems to indicate it is a Baleen Whale…. but the article does end with… “more data needed….. ”

It does make for good Sci-Fi, especially now that I have been working on a treatment called HUM, which is about an alien life-form that was attracted to Earth by its sound.   Yes, yes, I know… sound does not travel through space… but other signals do and who is to say what wavelengths aliens can hear.

Excerpt from Silversides – Chapter One

 

Chapter One – Arrival (Draft) 

Kelp.jpg

Far below the rolling swells of the Monterey Bay, a giant kelp began to lose its tendril grip on the weakened shale, each surge tearing away at the holdfast, each surge drawing in the Garibaldi that schooled nearby.  With a final tug the holdfast ripped free and the Garibaldi charged out from the shadows, their bright orange scales flashing against in the emerald waters as they picked off the limpets tumbling through the silt, their thin calcium shells snapped in half.

Nori had been diving nearby when she heard these snaps, a trigger in the back of her mind it was time to rise.  She looked up at the starburst of light filtering down through the golden canopy of fronds and began her ascent along the towers of kelp.  Without warning, her regulator began to sputter and readings of high carbon dioxide displayed on her ocular implants; she was running out of air.  With her arms stretched upward she clawed her way through the surface, her hands reaching to pull the regulator from her mouth, gagging on its arm-length of tendrils that slipped from her throat.

Gliese_581gAfter thirty years aboard the starship Hoshi Akari, Nori was the first of her crew to be awakened by a personal dream applet.  She was lying on her back, suspended above a bath of orange cryoGel, deaf and blind to the universe around her.  She waited until her breathing settled before scraping away the paraffin covering her eyes.  Stretched above her was the lid to her cryoPod with its rim of emerald lighting and the criss-cross of golden  stanchions lining the ceiling beyond.

Nori was brought to a sitting position by the Correlation Engine and Intelligence Lab, known as CEIL; the ship’s AI and handler for the crew. She looked down at her legs to see the droplets of orange cryoGel begin to pool on her skin and drip back onto the carbon plank and through the mesh below.  She shook her head of fine white quills and the droplets scattered like a dog shaking its coat; her reflexes noticeably faster than she remembered.

A tingling swept across her scalp and she knew CEIL was reaching into the wetware of her implants.

CEIL? Nori streamed.

Yes, Nori, CEIL replied, its voice female, caring, as if whispering into her ear.

Where are we? Nori streamed.

We are maintaining a stationary orbit of 3.8624+5 km from Dykazza. The year is 2132, June 17th, 15:11:11.  We are 22.238 light years from Sol with a time dilation of 9.175 Earth years..

Nori let out a sigh as the rope of tension began to unwind; their ship was exactly where they were programmed to be.

CEIL. What is our ship’s status? Nori continued to stream as she removed the remaining paraffin covering her ears..

Our ship’s ballast was detached and tethered successfully.  Rotation has been set for 1.5 Earth G.  My infrastructure, life support and backup systems are nominal.

Nori paused to take this in.

CEIL.  Were there any problem records during the journey? she streamed.

There was one problem record, CEIL reported without a sense of worry.  PR-0001occurred during your cryoGenesis period; a primary raceway telemetry interruption occurred on September 22nd, in the year 2123 at 21:04:45.  My root cause analysis had identified a Q-bit allocation drift, which has been corrected.

One incident in thirty years—Impressive, Nori thought.

CEIL. What’s the status of the crew? she streamed.

CryoGenisys was successful on all six crew members, CEIL responded. Four crew members remain under my handling and their bays are opening now, but I have just received a trap alert from cryoPod 581.02, crew member, Rhodes.  It appears there is an intermittent failure to the set timer during the load of 581.02_av_progDA.  His awakening app has aborted.  His condition is stable, but below thresholds for our bioSketchers to level out homeostasis.  He will be entering a state of autonomic hyperreflexia in eighty-eight minutes unless he can receive physical assistance, which is beyond my capabilities.

There was nothing Nori could do until she and her crew were on their feet.  She tapped the palm of her hand against her temple, hoping to shake way the silence in her ears.  Still nothing and she felt alone in the universe.

CEIL. Bring up some music please, Nori streamed.

Your selection, Nori?

She hadn’t thought about that. What would she listen to after all this time.

Shuffle my playlist, psyChill, she streamed.

CEIL randomly selected a track from her playlist and rolled up the volume, just enough to shave off the the emptiness around her.  A musical piece called, Who We Were by Ryan McShae began to play with its soft plucks of the cello and the solitary notes of a piano.  It was a reminder that Earth was now, and forever would be, nothing more than a memory.

Silversides – Character Study – Nori – Protagonist

SilverSides_CoverThis is a character study of Nori Matsui, the protagonist in my upcoming sci-fi novel, Silversides.  This particular excerpt may or may not make it into the second volume, but it is no less accurate of the events to unfold.

Silversides: Excerpt – Exiting the Necker Cube

“Nori,”  he said attempting to regain her attention.  He was speaking more softly this time, very controlled in a commanding tone he knows gets questions answered.  He waited for eye contact and brushed at his scalp as though having just walked into a cobweb.  “Who exactly are you?” and not waiting for an answer, “Where did you come from?”  Then leaning in closer,  “Tell us again, why did you come here?”

Nori paid little attention to the talking suit, instead focused on her cuffed wrists locked into the grommet of the table, which like her chair, was bolted into the concrete floor.  She studied the burn marks and scratches on the metal, wondering how many others had sat here to the drone of these same questions, whether they were a petty thief or, as she was, someone who had just traveled twenty light years and back through time.   

She raised her attention to the decorated suit of the man, with the port of his belly and chubby arms braced on the table-top, with his manicured fingers rolling inches away from her own.  How easy it would be to reach out and break every one of them before you would ever feel the blinding pain of it, she streamed into him.

Without knowing why, he curled his fingers into his palms

“As I stated earlier,” Nori answered.  “I am here alone.”

The suit pushed up and away from the table with the crack of his back the only audible sound in the concrete room.  He stood there momentarily then began to  nervously massage the folds of skin on the back of his neck.  Unsurprisingly to Nori, he hammered his fist onto the metal table and leaned in close to her face.

“Stop fucking around and answer the goddamn questions!” the spittle from his charge landing on her cheeks but her eyes never blinked.

Nori had been mouthing every word the suit was saying before he did, her blue left eye and green right eye, unnerving him as she did.

He could see the slight extension of her smile, and lost it.

She knew what was coming next and took the blow of his back-hand across her mouth, pausing briefly for the effect before sweeping her tongue beneath her lip, watching him shake off the hurt like he had just punched a brick wall.  He could see there wasn’t a mark or expression on her; just the feeling of deep hatred streaming into him.

“CHIEF!” Shouted a woman’s voice from behind as she stepped out from the shadows. “That will be enough! Now leave here immediately or–by God–I will see to it you spend the remainder of your career at Shemya!”

Knowing she did not hand out threats, only promises, he turned away from Nori to face his Commander-in-chief.

“Madame President,” The Chief Executive Officer acknowledged with a submissive nod, then he turned to the the Marine standing at attention, who opened and closed the steel door behind him.

The president asked for a chair and sat opposite Nori.

“I deeply apologize for my Chief’s behavior….  Inexcusable,” she said with disgust. “I assure you, that will never happen again.”

Nori did not respond, nor did she care.

The President felt something slip over her and brushed the flip of her hair.

“Tell me.  Why did you come here?  Why Times Square, the most recognizable place on this planet?  Surely, you could have picked someplace more hospitable, say–“

“Paris?” Nori said finishing her thoughts.

“Yes… Like, Paris…” the President reiterated, her throat suddenly dry and her alarm apparent.

“I thought about that…” Nori paused. “Paris will always remain a place of inspiration for me, but New York?  New York seems right… So here I am, Times Square… The center of the Universe.”   Nori could feel the hidden fright of the President, having just read her mind.

“You need to shut down five-eighty-one,” Nori cautioned.

“What is five-eighty-one?” the President questioned, the chevrons on her forehead lifting and indicating she was clearly in the dark.

“Start with your Chief,” Nori suggested.  “He’ll be sitting in your seat…”