Find out what residents in Ocean City NJ are reading. It starts here.
Find out what residents in Ocean City NJ are reading. It starts here.
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.
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.
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.
EEven if you are not a writer, this is perhaps one of the most inspirational TED Talks I have ever watched (Anne Madden). It should make you think, something our media is trying to suppress.
I encourage every writer of sci-fi to watch and absorb. Listen and let your creativity loose, let it be the muse over your shoulder, pushing you to write that sci-fi great. I have, with my previous novellas (November Seedand From Europa With Love), both works inspired by my own research, as a former Marine Biologist, and having absorbed snippets from TED, Wired, Space.com, ZME Science or from posts by my fellow G+’ers (you guys and gals rock!)
Anne’s talk is bursting with hard sci-fi nibbles for a writer, such as: ‘A human devised solution‘ or ‘vaccinations for fear‘ or ‘beer made from wasps‘, her concepts come rapidly and I had to watch this talk a couple of times, hitting pause often to write down some ideas in my file, Book Of Ideas (every writer needs a file like this).
Finding ideas to write about is simple: The real universe exists within itself, as you will hear, but every writer of sci-fi, including myself, feels trapped sometimes, that every sci-fi plot has already been written. Maybe this is why we are seeing iteration after iteration of the same thing; just how many alien species can there be who has one primary objective and that is to kick Humanity’s ass? To break out of this monocular view, Anne says one thing that can turn us from this view: ‘Most of the life around us remains unknown‘ I love this statement. It is the one statement a writer of sci-fi should strip away and use as a mantra and be that break-away writer, typing out the next best seller.
Some of my own ideas that came from listening to this talk:
With June 30th approaching ( Asteroid Day), here are a few things you can research, read and watch to prepare yourself.
RESEARCH: Start with the leading authority of all things asteroids by going to Asteroidday.org.
READ: I had started a series of sci-fi shorts titled: End Of Days. One of these stories deals specifically with an asteroid event, called, Under Eden
WATCH: 51 Degrees North: A collaboration of Dr. Brian May and Grig Richters. A life-changing film that led to the creation of Asteroid Day. Both the trailer and full length versions of the film can be found below. You do not want to miss this.
To see the full length movie, click here
For other stories in this series, Click Here
“What word of what I just said didn’t you understand?” Deedle said mocking him as she pulled the handgun from her shoulder bag.
“Deedle…. hold on…. put the gun down,” he pleaded rolling back in his chair with nowhere to go.
With a flick of her thumb, the laser-powered scope turned on, and she raised the red dot until it settled between his eyes.
“Don’t do this, Deedle. I thought you were coming over here to make amends? It was a long time ago. We’re friends now, right? We’ve done business together. This is crazy… We’re both going to die in a few hours anyway. I’m sorry…. don’t do this…”
“I’m not going to give you that luxury… you prick…. You don’t deserve to go out with the rest of humanity.” She took aim.
“WAIT! Just wait! I didn’t have a choice–”
“NO! I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE!” She shouted cutting him off as the red dot bounced along his forehead. She promised herself she wouldn’t lose control of her emotions over this scumbag and needed to prove to him she was no longer the young impressionable nitwit she had been in those days, new to the jewelry trade and too trusting of shitbags the likes of Donald.
Seeing him here, now, brought back thirty years of anger and sleepless nights of reenacted dreams when he claimed to have lost a piece she had loaned him; it had been her most precious piece, a vintage VCA coral and diamond leaf motif brooch worth a little more than eighty-seven grand…. a fortune to her at the time.
“Tell me, Donald…. and if I sense any bullshit… I swear I’ll blow your fucking head off!” It felt good for her to say that out loud having rehearsed this line over and over in her head during her walk along Fifth Avenue to Donald’s office.
An hour earlier, she and everyone on the planet had received a series of public service emergency alerts that a catastrophic solar flare, ten times the diameter of Earth, was heading toward them and there was no chance of survival. The Internet had become choked with posts of people making amends and being with those they loved. There was nothing anyone could do. Instead of rushing home to Dov, she had sat in her office thinking of any regrets she may have had in her life. There was one.
“What did you do with that piece I loaned you, Donald?”
He looked at her, feigning confusion.
“Donald! Answer me!” She shouted and dropped her leg back and took straight aim.
“I sold it!” He blurted out. “I’m sorry, but I needed the money… “
“To whom?” She demanded.
He was stuttering, looking for an answer that wasn’t there. “No-no one you know… please… put the gun away… we can talk about this.”
“You’re lying to me,” she said calmly. “You always flick the end of your nose when you lie… just like you did right now.” She took aim down the barrel.
“OK, OK, OK… I gave it to Anna Skylovski… Don’t shoot…” he whimpered.
“You were always such a pussy, Donald. I should have known you’d give it to that slut… I hope the blowjob was worth this bullet in your head,” she said closing one eye just before pulling the trigger and for Donald to thrust his hands in front of his face and turn slightly. The sound was much quieter than she imagined, a single pop. She looked up to see a hole in his palm and the tip of his nose missing.
“FUCK ME!” Donald screamed out as the blood began to gush. He pulled his bloody hand down and held it, growling through clenched teeth and the bubble of his voice though the tip of his shredded nose. Beyond him the bullet had exited the picture window, leaving a spider web in the glass.
“Damn! My aim sucks,” she said more to herself than for Donald’s sake. “Dov insisted I get a gun to protect myself. He even took me clay shooting, and those fucking orange pigeons went sailing forth unhindered by my bullets… I would have shot you in the balls, Donald, but I now realize you never had any.” She laughed and raised the gun once more but jumped when the sirens outside screamed out, distracting her long enough for Donald to grab the paperweight from his desk and hurl it, striking her in the forehead and knocking her onto the floor.
She was lying there, still holding the gun when Donald launched over the desk onto her, his good hand pinning the gun to the carpet.
“You stupid bitch,” he screamed inches from her face. She felt the warmth of his bloodied forearm on her throat as the drip from his nose landed her cheek. He began to press down.
Her free hand was clutched to the brooch that had come loose from the fall, the long gold pin held in her fingers. She jabbed him in the temple and felt the pin bend when it hit bone.
He roared out and rolled over onto his back, and Deedle staggered up onto her Jimmy Choos, the gun still hot in her hands. She wiped her cheek, straightened her suit and brushed the flip of her hair to the side while the sirens outside continued at a deafening pitch. The end was coming.
Donald pushed himself up against the front of his desk, defeated. “Get it over with. Do it. Do me the favor of not having to see your fucking face as my last image. DO IT!
Deedle raised the gun and held it steady, the red dot settling between his eyes. She was breathing heavily, and her head ached. She looked into his eyes that were filled with hatred, and she began to laugh. She was laughing so hard it drew Donald in as he closed his eyes and laughed achingly with her.
She wanted to pull the trigger, but the reservoir of revenge felt half full, and she didn’t want this to end, on his terms, so she lowered the gun and pulled the trigger and miraculously hit his knee. A black dot appeared on his pant leg, and he screamed out once more, a primordial guttural, “FUCK YOU” through threads of red spittle tethered from his bloodied lips.
The reservoir had drained, and she raised the gun, held her breath, and pulled the trigger. Another pop and beyond the sights of the barrel a black dot appeared on his forehead as if that was all that bullets did was to create black dots. A crimson ribbon began to drip between his eyes and along his nose where it bowed like a strand of silk onto his chest.
“No, Donald… Fuck You,” she said under her breath and lobbed the gun into his lap.
She was smiling to herself in the mirrored walls of the elevator, primping and wiping his blood from her face and throat until the courtesy ping of the elevator notified her she had reached the lobby. The doors opened, and she stepped out onto the worn marble floors with the echo of her heels the only sounds she heard as she walked toward the revolving doors that opened to the street.
Everything seemed so surreal; it was a beautiful day with not a soul in sight. Everyone who was, were where he or she needed to be. Deedle walked Fifth Avenue toward her Upper East Side apartment, not drawn in by the windows of Christian Louboutin or lured through the open doors of St. Patrick’s by the sobering choir of voices within. She walked past Bergdorf’s without admiring the window displays and was amazed not to see crowds gathered around the Apple Store. Why couldn’t it always be like this? She thought to herself as she headed along the park with the dogwoods in bloom and over the wall in the fields beyond, horses with tiaras were grazing on the chartreuse of grass — their handsome cab owners having set them free. She couldn’t remember the last time she walked home from work and took note of all the shops and cafes she had never been to or had known to exist.
With the crosstown walk behind her, she stopped to admire the tower of her apartment building and the duplex apartment at the top, a symbol of her success. She thought back to the countless dinner parties out on the terrace, her love of the kitchen and cooking, the smells of fresh biscotti on the oven sheets with Dov always stealing one before they cooled. She had some great times there, and those thoughts filled her with happiness.
It felt odd opening her own door to the lobby, where Kevin was not there to greet her with his infectious smile, eager to carry her packages no matter how small. She entered the to its emptiness, where the elevator door at the far end of the lobby was openly awaiting her, an NYC rarity. She rode up in silence to the penthouse floor and stepping out, the door to her apartment opened before she could remove her key. Standing in the doorway was Dov in his tuxedo holding two glasses of champagne.
Noticing the bruise on her forehead and smear of blood on her cheek, throat, and blouse, he asked nonchalantly, “Tough day at the Batcave, Batgirl?”
“You should see the other guy…” she huffed and dropped her bag to the floor as she reached for her glass and kissed him hard on the lips. “Come on Batman…. we’ve got some messing around to do before the world ends. Hopefully, this solar flare thing is not fake news, or I will have some serious explaining to do in the morning….”
For other stories in this series, Click Here
Robert Sawyer is my current favorite writer. I love his writing style that flows easily, yet delivers such rich and technical information–I feel more like I am watching a movie than reading. Mindscan is such a good read and raises some very interesting ethical questions on living forever, age is obsolete, death & taxes–we will soon need to deal with. All that and a great sci-fi… what more can you ask for. This was like 2001 A Space Odyssey meets AI. I am hooked and going back to read a few more books….