Monday, December 29, 2014

Writer New Year Resolutions

It's that time of year again when people make resolutions to change some part of their life for the better.

Here are some "writer resolutions" I suggest (and some I need to make).

1) Make time to write: Yes, we all have busy lives and many of us have day jobs. If you write "when I find the time" you'll never write. Make time to write. Get up an hour earlier. Forgo an hour of television a day. But do what it takes to make time to write. You want to be a writer, then you need to write!

2) Just keep Writing: Yes, I say this a lot but because I think it needs repeating. We all go through the "this-is-crap" crisis (me, usually about 50,000 words in). But I also say "Your first draft is going to suck, get over it write the damn thing." Just keep writing and fix it in edits.

3) Edit (more): A writer almost can't do too much editing. As I said before, you're first draft is going to be crap. Editing is how you polish crap into a diamond. I try to wait a month and hope I have another work in progress going before I start to edit. The longer you wait the more likely you will see not only glaring errors and bad writing, but subtle errors and sub-par writing that could be improved. I edit twice myself (with at least one week between), then I have it proofread. Then I have my wife read it to me. Then I send it to beta readers. Then I edit it again. Then I submit it.

4) Be more Social: Yes, we are all introverts who would rather spend time with our characters (or someone else's characters) than face people live and in person. But every success I've had as a writer came through networking (i.e., talking to people). Join a writers' group. At the very least see if you can connect with writers through social media. You're going to need beta readers, for one thing. Other writers can help you when you're stuck with a plot problem or encourage you to finish that NaNoWriMo novel.

5) Write Well: In everything you write: Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, letters to Santa, do your best to write it well and with few mistakes. I'm amazed when I see writers on social media use "to" instead of "too." Always always always practice your craft, no mater what you are writing.

That should get you started on the upcoming new year. Well, that and losing weight and cutting out junk food.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Nancy MC Young and Clyde P Riddlesbrood


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Nancy MC Young and Clyde P Riddlesbrood

Nancy MC Young


Nancy MC Young
Nancy's writing brings to life her global travel and multicultural perspective. Born in Taipei and
raised in Pasadena, California. She has traveled extensively across the U.S. and Canada, and has visited over 30 countries. She worked for many years as a nonprofit arts manager and foundation officer in Los Angeles and San Francisco before becoming an arts and cultural development consultant for regional, state and federal governments in the USA and in Australia for over 16 years.

Nancy authored numerous cultural development plans and policies, arts marketing books, and published a short story in the anthology, Sweet Sisters and Other Secrets (Zonta Int'l) in 2000. She now lives in Southern California and supports literacy and education through her work with the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. This is her first novel.

Nancy's Book:

Strum available at Amazon and InkWater Books.

Nancy's links:

Facebook (book)
Facebook (author)

Clyde P Riddlesbrood


Clyde's work in progress is: The longest Brochure in the World

Clyde's links:

Website
Blog
Facebook

From Today's Show: Quantum Teleportation

Monday, December 22, 2014

Once More Into the Breech (or Breach?).

Some words are just confusing as all get out. Like "breech" and "breach." Both are pronounced the same, spelled nearly the same, but have completely different meanings. When I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel, I used the wrong one every time. (Of course, it was a first draft in need of revision.)

So here's the low down on "breech" and "breach":

Breech means the back of something. The breech of a gun. Most modern firearms are "breech loaded" (as opposed to muzzle loaded). A baby coming out bottom-first is a "breech baby." You wear "breeches" because they cover your ass.

Breach means a break or fissure. You breach your contract. The torpedo breached the hull of the battleship. To kiss the queen was a breach in protocol. And whales jumping into the air are "breaching" (perhaps because they breach the surface of the ocean?).

Oh, and the Shakespeare quote from Henry V: "Once more into the breach."

How to remember which is which. This is easy. "Breach" has the same five first letters a "break" which is one of its meaning. And "breech" has two e's so you'd say "eeee" if you saw someone's breech.

So don't breach good spelling rules and come out looking like a breech.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

Today as I write this, it is the day of the Winter Solstice. The word solstice basically means "sun stopping" or "sun standing." It is like the word armistice has the same Latin root and means "arms standing."

A solstice is not a day. It is the time that the Sun reaches it's most northern (summer) or southern (winter) point. The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the Winter Solstice.

Today that will be at 3:03 P.M. Pacific Standard Time. So you can adjust to your time zone. For example, that's 6:03 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.

If you are north of the Arctic Circle, there will be at least one day around the Winter Solstice when the sun does not rise over the horizon. The farther north you are, the more days that is and at the North Pole, it's six months. Conversely, in the summer, there will be at least one day when the sun does not set and the farther north you are the more days there will be. Again, at the North Pole, that's six months of daylight.

When I was growing up in Southeast Idaho at an elevation of nearly 4,500 feet, winter (as signified by the first snow) started late October. It struck me as strange that the first official day of winter was essentially in the middle of winter. And spring, which starts about March 22nd officially, was still, in winter ("winter" ran from late October to early April).

People mistakenly called the day of the Winter Solstice "the shortest day of the year" when what they mean is it's the shortest daylight of the year. Where I live, sunrise was at 7:41 this morning and sunset will be at 4:09 this evening. That's 8 hours and 28 minutes of the sun being up (if my math is correct). And miracle of miracles, it's actually a sunny day here.

So why is Christmas on December 25th? One theory holds that most cultures have a post Winter Solstice party. They've been watching the Sun get lower and lower in the sky, the day light get shorter, the temperatures get cooler. Somebody's gotta be thinking "If this goes on, we're doomed."

Then it stops, the periods of daylight start getting longer again. So hey, let's have a big party! And since Christmas was scheduled by early Christians to coincide with Saturnalia, which was probably started as one of those parties, that's why Christmas is three days (about) after the Winter Solstice.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright

Anthony Metivier
Anthony Metivier

Anthony Metivier is the author of Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom, How to Remember Your Dreams and founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a 21st century approach to the Memory Palace Method that makes memorizing foreign language vocabulary, poetry, and the names of the important people you meet easy and elegant.

Anthony's books include:

Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom

Sample of audio book of upcoming novel Electville

Anthony's Links:

Website/Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Laura Enright
Laura Enright

I was raised in Harwood Heights, Ill., a suburb bordering Chicago, growing up across the parking lot from the neighborhood tavern that my grandfather built in the 1930s. In 2005 my book Chicago’s Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters and Windy City Oddities was published followed in 2010 by Vampires’ Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers and Other Undead Oddities.

February 2014 saw the release of To Touch the Sun, the first novel in my vampire series set in Chicago. A visit to my author page on Facebook will reveal that I’m all over the map when it comes to what I like in literature, music, TV and movies, but I do tend to veer toward some more than others. In short, I'm interested in any number of things, far too many for my limited free time to accommodate.

As a writer I tend to stay in the fantasy and science fiction genres (adding liberal doses of humor when needed) but I’m willing to try my hand at anything, which, curiously enough, led to my three books I’ve published. A quote that pretty much sums up my life is from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (though I heard it in a George Harrison song): “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Laura's book:

To Touch the Sun

Laura's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

From today's program: Japanese Asteroid Mission


Monday, December 15, 2014

Bring and Take: Use them Correctly

Nearly everyone I know, including my wife, uses "bring" incorrectly, using it when she should use "take. For example, she will ask one of my sons to "Bring the dishes into the kitchen" when they are both in the dining room. This drives me bonkers.

I have thought for years how to explain the difference to her (and everyone else) and finally realized that it has to do with "come" and "go." And that made it simple (not that it changed my wife's error).

If you can add "go" to the sentence, use "take." As in "Go into the kitchen and take the dishes."

If you can add "come" to the sentence, use "bring." That would be "Come into the kitchen and bring the dishes."

Because you wouldn't say "go into the kitchen" when you are standing in the kitchen, you would say "come" And you wouldn't say "come into the kitchen" when you are in the dining room, you would say "go."

There are some special cases with bring and take which probably cause all the confusion. But, still, the "come and go rule" works. One might say "Come into the kitchen with me and bring the dishes." This is correct even if you are in the dining room.

Or, you might say "I'll bring the dishes when I come into the kitchen" again while in the dining room. But in both cases, you are saying "come" so "bring" is the correct verb.

Remember, if you can put the word "go" in the sentence, use "take." If you can put the word "come" in the sentence, put the word "bring."

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Tina Field Howe and Logan I. Masterson

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Tina Field Howe and Logan l. Masterson

Tina Field Howe

Tina Field Howe
Tina’s first book was Snailsworth, a slow little story, a children’s picture book which she wrote and illustrated in 2004. “Snailsworth” book and audio book won Silver in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Awards. 

Tina’s first novel, “Alysa of the Fields, Book One in the Tellings of Xunar-kun” (SHOO-nahr-KOON), won the 2006 Dream Realm Awards for Cover Art. The second book in the series – “The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun” – won First Place in the 2009 Written Art Awards, Science Fiction category; and Silver in the 2011 Readers' Favorite Awards. 

Tina received a 2009 Artist Crossroads Grant from The ARTs Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and NYSCA to create an audio book of “Alysa of the Fields.” She cast 42 actors in the character roles and lent her own voice to the narration. She produced the 8-CD audio book in her home studio. It was released in 2010 and has won three awards: Gold in Readers' Favorite, Silver in Mom's Choice and First Place in Reader Views. 

Tina dabbled in screenwriting on and off for several years then discovered Screenwriting U’s online screenwriting intensive which she completed in 2011. Since then she has been focused on screenwriting and has won and placed in several competitions. She is currently taking Screenwriting U’s Master class and recently gained representation. 

In addition to writing books and screenplays, for many years Tina has been an illustrator and her day job is in corporate communications.  

Tina holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and a Minor in Art. Her favorite college studies included physical and cultural anthropology, archaeology, studio art and art history.


Tina lives in Waverly, New York. She “gives back” by speaking at career seminars at public schools, meeting with creative writing classes, and speaking to individual aspiring writers.

Tina's books:

Alysa of the Fields (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!

The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!


Tina's Links:

Websites:
http://www.SnailStories.com
http://www.TinaFieldHoweScreenwriter.com

Logan l. Masterson

Logan I. Masterson
Born in southern Missouri, and traveling the American southwest throughout his early life, Logan L. Masterson rooted himself in ideas rather than places. His world is a place of wonders, where words are magic and anything is possible. It’s also a place of darkness: good things happen to bad people and the best intentions can go terribly awry.

Logan L. Masterson is the author of Ravencroft Springs, a Lovecraftian tale of Appalachia published by Pro Se Press. Look for his stories “Clockwork Demons” in Capes & Clockwork, and “Shadow of the Wolf” in Luna’s Children II, both from Dark Oak Press. His newest project is Wheel of the Year: Samhain, the first in a pagan high-fantasy series of short stories. 




Logan's Links:


From today's program: Rosetta water discovery.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Twenty-four Hours with Only a Phone

My wife and I tried an experiment. I came up with the idea that maybe if we used our smart phones just as phones for 24 hours, we might experience more life. We might spend less time staring at screens and more time seeing what's around us. We might even . . . talk to each other.

It didn't work that way. From 10:00 P.M. on a Thursday to 10:00 P.M. on a Friday, we turned off data and WiFi on our iPhones. This cut us off from the internet: no Facebook, no Twitter, no Words with Friends (seemingly my wife's current obsession).

What did we learn. I learned it was annoying and inconvenient. If I wanted to check the weather, I had to get on a computer. If I wanted to check Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, I had to get on my computer. And this was less of a burden for my wife than for me. Her computer is kept on the main floor of the house, mine is in the basement meaning I had to go down a flight of stairs anytime I wanted to use a computer. I pretty much just didn't bother.

In lieu of doing something on my phone, I read, watched TV, or did work. There was no magical improvement of my life. As I said, it was mostly annoying and inconvenient.

I think the reason my experiment didn't have the results I wanted was simply that technology makes our lives better. I can check the weather at a glance. I can update Twitter, Facebook, etc. without having to sit down in front of a computer. I can search the web from my recliner. Cutting myself off from technology did not return my life to a pastoral blissful existence. It was simply a bother.

Maybe the next step is to cut off internet completely.

Naw!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas/Holiday Book-Buyer's Guide

It's Christmas time again (or fill in your favorite holiday).

And if you're wondering what to give that special someone who loves to curl up with a good book, here are some suggestions:

Kundalis: Storm Dragon by Frances Pauli


Karin knows she’s gone completely insane—nuts—absolutely batshit crazy, when she spots an insidious blue dragon twining through the trees at a rest stop in the Cascade Mountains. Despite agreeing to join her roommate at a psychic fair, she’s never believed in anything metaphysical. She’s pretty sure the Reiki treatment she succumbed to has brought on a frighteningly realistic hallucination—until they roll their mini-van in the middle of I-90, and she is rescued from the vehicle by the same monstrous blue figment of her imagination.

She awakens to find that she’s been delivered to a cabin high in the mountains instead of to a proper hospital. The “doctor” looking out for her is more of a new-ager than a physician, and the people who own the house, including the urban highlander version of Fabio, don’t have any intention of letting her leave.

Faced with the unimaginable, and strapped to an all-too-real dragon, Karin must decide how to tame the beast or risk losing herself to it forever.

Amazon reviews: "An exceedingly well-written contemporary fantasy that will suit all fans who want something on the little bit different side." "...a fun twist on the idea of dragons."

Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg


Stranded on a primitive world, chased by drug smugglers who think she’s competition, hunted by the Patrol as a criminal, pursued by the natives who think she’s a demon, Dace has one hope of rescue—convince the Patrol agent trying to kill her that she’s innocent. But on Dadilan, no one is innocent.

Amazon review: "Well written, with an unpredictable plot and well-rounded characters. “



Emergence by Siana Wineland


It’s been twenty-five years since people started to change in the Pacific Northwest… Since the emergence of the first Valkyries. Most find it easier to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. That the contagion isn’t something that can touch them. Unfortunately the next to transform, and sprout wings, could be anyone.

Most of all, Jessica Reuther wants nothing more to do with Valkyries. But when a recovery team comes for her, she becomes the contested bone among the wolves. And a vicious game of tug-o-war ensues while she is forced to face a reality she prayed would never come. In the wake of her metamorphosis, a new kind of change begins to sweep through the fledgling race, one that could have devastating consequences for humanity.

Amazon reviews: "I really enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging and the plot moved quickly." "Awesome book, couldn't put it down!  If I didn't know before hand would never have guessed it was a new author."

Mythica by Voss Foster

Ghosts of the past and fairies of the future. Mythical creatures and magic gone awry. 
From the crash of the Hindenburg to magic-crazed visions of tomorrow, wonder runs just under the surface. Six fantasy shorts from author Voss Foster explore just how deep that magic runs. And how easily it can be exposed.

Unbound: Kayla Blackstone Book One by Adriane Ceallaigh



Kayla Blackstone wasn't always a slave. At one time she’d been the best bounty hunter the drifts had ever seen... before the Mage Hunters came. Before they’d stolen her life, her family, and her purpose. Before Keaton had offered her a deal she couldn't refuse.

Now she has a chance to get her life back, to start over. Her Master, Keaton, wants one more run, one more delivery. She knows better than to trust him, but she doesn't have a choice. Unfortunately, for Kayla, Keaton’s deals are as deadly as they ever were.

Amazon Review: This was different then any book i have read before. I am an avid reader , so it is hard to find books that stand out and i am pleased that this one had such a great new story line. Can't wait for the next book.

Gods of Strife by S. Evan Townsend


They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and an ancient evil stalks them?

An assassination attempt on the head of the American Meta Association guild sends adept Peter Branton looking for who wants him and his leader dead.  Finding the beautiful, shape-shifting assassin leads him to his real enemy, an enemy that is much worse and much more dangerous: living gods of Atlantis.  Branton must team with up with his would-be killer and a mysterious warrior to defeat the gods of strife that are intent on starting a war that could devastate all mankind.

Amazon Review:  "...the story really came to life, you almost felt as if you were a part of the action."



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sports, an Odyssey

I was just thinking how excited I am for the University of Washington Huskies upcoming bowl game. And I realized I've made quite a changed in my life when it comes to sports.

When I was a kid and up through most of my formative years, I hated sports with a passion. I hated playing them and I really hated watching them. I hated sports on TV as I'd turn on the television to watch some favorite show but a stupid football game would have two minutes left but it would take fifteen minutes of real time to finish the game and then an announcer would come on and say "We join the program already in progress." And you've missed the first fifteen minutes of your show.  Didn't help we only had two channels. Not much to watch anyway.

A change started in my twenties. When I married, I found my wife was much more interesting in watching sports than I was. She would watch the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington Huskies (I put my foot down at baseball, a sport I still loath).

And I, after attending the University of Washington, started watching Husky football. But what really sealed the deal what that I went to a few games. There's nothing like the fever pitch of being in a crowd of 50,000 or so people all yelling for the same outcome.  (This is also used in the political sphere where people can get very worked up about something political at a rally of a couple of thousand like-minded people and a charismatic speaker.)

Now I'm a near-rabid Huskies fan (even when they went 0-12 on a season) and a fair-weather Seahawks fan (I'll watch if they are winning).

But I still won't watch baseball.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I and Me, which is correct?

Pretty much everyone knows when you are talking about yourself and you are the subject of the sentence, you say "I" as in "I went to town."

"Me went to town" is something a 3-year-old would say.

Although lots of people who should know better say "Me and Joe went to town" when, of course, it should be "Joe and I . . ."  ("Me and Joe" always sounds like "Mean Joe" so I respond with "How mean is Joe?")

And, "Joe and me" is also wrong because you use "I" when you are the subject and "me" when you are the object. And the other person always comes first (I know, not fair).

But what about the end of sentences? When do you use "I" and when do you use "me"? This confuses a lot of people.

Well, it depends. If you are the object of the sentence, use "me": "Joe gave the ball to me."

However, if you are comparing yourself to something, use I: "Joe is taller than I."

Some people get this mixed up, thinking "I" is correct in all circumstances and say "Joe gave the ball to I" which makes me want to pull out what's left of my hair.

To figure out if you should use "I," add "am" (i.e., a verb).  "Joe is taller than I am" is correct. And you can just drop the "am." I hope you wouldn't say "Joe is taller than me am."

But you wouldn't say "Joe gave the ball to I am." So you use "me" in that case.

The easy rule is, if you can add "am" (or "was") and the sentence still makes sense, use "I". If you can't add "am," use "me."

And, on a related note, you don't say "Joe is taller than him" because "Joe is taller than him is" is wrong. You say "Joe is taller than he."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Write Fight Champion

As part of our local NaNoWriMo local region's TGIO (Thank God it's Over) party, we had a "write fight." And I won (see trophy at left).

How this worked was the referee gave two writers three random writing prompts. They then had four minutes to write something (not long enough for a story). The referee read the stories without saying who wrote them, and then the group voted on the best.

We started with eight participants in the single-elimination tournament. Which meant I had to compete three times. And this was done with pen and paper so I had the added challenge of trying to write neatly (see writing sample below).

Here are the three vignettes I wrote (unedited except for spelling):

First Round: prompts: cartoon character, lottery, orchestra

"Why do we have to be here?" Goofy gushed.
"You won the lottery. You're rich now. This is what rich people do."
"But I don't like orchestra music."
"You're rich now. It doesn't matter what you like."
"I had more fun when I was a poor goober farmer."
"Shut up, the music is about to start."
"Who are you anyway," Goofy asked.
"I'm the lottery enforcer. I make sure you do your part to earn your $10 million."
"Garsh!" Goofy exclaimed.
"Hey, you turned in the ticket. Didn't you read the contract?"
"I don't want to be rich."
"Too late, pal."

Second Round: prompts: a toupee, a sleuth, an evil roommate.
Me trying to write neatly


Detective Larkin studied the toupee. It was resting on the carpet, looking forlorn and unwanted. But it was the blood that most interested Larkin.
"I didn't do it, man," the roommate whined. "Not that he didn't deserve it, wearing that stupid toupee and sticking his fingers in his ears watching anime."
"So you deny killing your roommate?" Larkin asked.
"Yes!" the pudgy man cried. "I don't even own a stiletto."
"I never said he was stabbed with a stiletto." Larkin smirked.
The roommate shrieked and ran for the door.
Larkin pulled his gun and yelled, "Stop!"

Winning Round: prompts: a lemon, an alien, a Venus fly trap.

The ship landed among the rows and rows of trees. Out came what any human would call a Venus fly trap but it was instead from Mars and ate mosquitoes.
From the trees hung bulbous, yellow fruit The alien took one, went back into his glittering ship, and with a muted yelp it shot into the azure sky.
The alien walked to his commanders quarters and present the fruit.
"Fool!" the commander bellowed. "That's a lemon. My doctor's orders were explicit: put the lime in the coconut and call him in the morning."
"Forgive me, sir," the alien trembled.

I have to say this was fun and challenging and I came out on top of some very good writers. It's very difficult to write something coherent in four minutes. I hope we do this again next year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Sara Deutsch and Sarantos

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Sara Deutsch and Sarantos.

Sara Deutsch

Sara Deutsch
Sara Deutsch, M.S., is an author, multi-media artist, Creative Arts Therapist, and teacher who focuses on creativity as a healing force and the art of collaboration.  Her journey led her  into many worlds. She trekked alone in the  Himalayas, and lived in virgin jungles of Hawaiian Islands, eating only fruit and wild vegetables. Sara draws from doctoral study in Psychobiology and East/West Psychology, years in a contemplative  order, 28 years of private practice, college teaching, and multimedia explorations.

Sara's books include:

VIOLET MOON--Fairy Tales with Art to Heal the Heart

EXTENDED FAMILY--Original Fairy Tales with Art and Heart 

CREATIVE COLLABORATION: Magic Ways to Create Cartoons and Stories Together

Sara's Links:

Website
Amazon
Facebook
LinkedIn

Sarantos

Sarantos is finally releasing his long-awaited and eagerly anticipated 1st solo artist music album on November 18th 2014. Sarantos' music has received rave reviews so far and he relishes this chance to pursue his life long dream.

Sarantos unique sound has been best described by industry insiders as "an emotionally powerful vocal style masterfully united with music that is a fusion of classic 80s rock blended with modern soft rock and pop music!"

Sarantos currently has over 1.4M Social Media followers and is rated #6 on Reverbnation in the pop genre worldwide.  Sarantos performed at the Toronto Music Festival on May 6th with his new band to a sold out live audience.

Sarantos was also recently nominated for 2 awards for the upcoming International Music & Entertainments Awards on October 4th 2014. The categories are Rock Song of the Year and Pop Album of the Year.

With recorded hits and new tunes waiting to be released every single month until the day he dies, Sarantos music screams success and stimulates an overdue conversation in the changing music industry. Sarantos loyal music fans continue to show their support by proudly showing off Sarantos merchandise and staying tuned into Sarantos daily down-to-earth and very real social media revelations. His songs are being broadcast every day on various radios stations around the world. Sarantos continues to do interviews around the world every single week and fans can listen in to some of them on his YouTube page. Let’s not forget his funny, sarcastic, witty and genuine music videos that leave his fans not knowing what to expect next.

There will be plenty of continued buzz throughout the year.  A new song will be released on the 1st Tuesday of every month, a new music video on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, a new Funny video of the month on the 3rd Tuesday of every month and a new Whiteboard video on the 4th Tuesday of every month! And now, Sarantos has just revealed that he is also going to start releasing a new Chapter form his fiction/fantasy book each month with the book also coming out at the end of the year.

Sarantos has been writing lyrics since 4th grade and is passionate about the words he puts to the music. Music was always in his blood. Music was always a passion and much more than a hobby. Sarantos has written over 2,000 songs!

Having undergone several personal challenges with Sarantos' father passing away two years ago after a long hard-fought battle with lung cancer, dealing with personal health issues like asthma and allergies which affected his singing style, going thru life's ups & downs, the timing is finally right. Sarantos main motivation, however, is to raise money for charity. 

33% of any music related sales are going straight to charity!

Sarantos has always been inclined to help people in need and is proud to launch this CD as a way to donate a portion of proceeds to charity, hopefully inspiring other artists to do the same. The 11 charities chosen for each song include American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Make-a-Wish Foundation, American Heart Association, St Jude's, Hellenic Academy, ASERF, American Red Cross, Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago Medical School, Thanioton Society & the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The website, Melogia (which in Greek means "with words") was established by Sarantos, an aspiring singer and song writer.

Sarantos Mission or Goal:

My goal when you listen to one of my songs is very simple. I want you to feel the need to:

-Sing
-Dance or move to the groove 
-Play the song over and over again

Sarantos' book: Not Where I Want to Be (available on his website)

Sarantos' Links:


From today's show: The Orion Launch

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review: The Giver

Probably due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, there have been a spate of books and consequent movies portraying a dystopian future  where a plucky teenaged hero saves the day. The Giver is no exception, and like The Hunger Games and Divergent, it gives us a society ruled by despotic leaders. But in The Giver, the despotism is more subtle.

In "The Community" there is no crime, war, suffering, at least on the surface. But that comes at a price. The government chooses your profession, your mate, and your children. Even your clothes. "Love" is a banned word. Freedom of expression is forbidden. And anyone who is inconvenient to the Community is "released": a euphemism for killing them. This includes babies who do not meet certain standards and anyone who reaches age 65. And life is bland for everyone. In fact, much of the movie is shot in grey scale to emphasize this.

Finally, only one person in the Community is allowed to know history before the Community, called the Keeper. And now it's time to train a new Keeper, and that's Jonas, the aforementioned plucky teenaged hero who, upon learning what he is missing (color, music, dancing, joy, snow) in the Community, tries to spread it his friends. This is forbidden.

The Giver is a little slow and a bit unrealistic at time. But it has powerful moments such as the "release" of a baby. It shows the subtle tyranny of trying making everyone safe from reality, something that is happening now in many places. The philosophy that the all-knowing state will take care of you and protect you, they only price is your freedom is too prevalent in society today. The Giver shows us the logical conclusion of that existence: black and white, bland, where nothing or no one is different.

I enjoyed this movie and recommend it as a study on the tyranny of the nanny state, a happy-faced kind of tyranny versus the hobnailed boot kind of the Hunger Games.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I Love/Hate NaNoWriMo

November is over.

That means NaNoWriMo is over and if you haven't written your 50,000 words (at least) you haven't won.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual self-flagellation that some writers put themselves through, including me the past two years. And this year I won. I managed to write 63,388 words on a novel called (now) Treasure of the Pirate Planet. I did it in 25 days for an average daily word count of 2,536. My biggest day was the second to the last when I did 3,666 words.

I do NaNoWriMo for two reasons. One is the same reason soldiers will stay in a foxhole as artillery shells are landing around them. I don't want to let down my buddies. My local writers' group is very much into NaNoWriMo and they want to have a good word-count at the end for the region. So I participate in order to help raise that word-count.

The other reason is that it focuses the mind so that, yes, you do often put out a manuscript (first draft) in less than 30 days, or at least make good progress toward it (50,000 words is a very short book). It fits with my mantas "Just Keep Writing" and "Your first draft will suck, get over it and write the damn thing."

But the problem I have with NaNoWriMo is that a lot of begining writers don't realize that what you are writing in November is a first daft.  It needs to be edited, proofread, edited some more, revised, beta read, revised, edited, and then maybe then it's ready to be published or submitted.

For example, I didn't think my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, Treasure of the Black Hole, was ready to be submitted to a publisher until June of this year. And I probably won't submit this years novel (a sequel to last year's) until May or June (depending on how fast people get betas back to me).

But I think too many beginning writers think, "Oh, I've written a book, let's put on on Kindle in time for Christmas." And that really annoys me because it gives indie authors a bad name when people publish bad first drafts.

I do like that this year, NaNoWriMo has a "badge" you can earn by promising to revise your novel. I'm hoping that will give more participants the clue that they do have to revise their novels. Sure, you can whip out that first draft in a month. But now you have months of work to do to finish it.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Huskies Win Apple Cup

Last night the annual cross-state rivalry game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State University Cougars was held at 7:30 P.M. in a very cold Pullman, Washington. Where I lived, wind chills were in the single digits last night and it was probably the same on the field at Martin Stadium on the WSU campus. But the cold didn't dampen the enthusiasm and rivalry both teams exhibited. The cold, however, did affect play, as dropped balls plagued both teams, but mostly the Cougars.

The Huskies got off to an early lead on their second play from scrimmage with a long run touchdown in the first quarter. Then for a while it looked as if it was going to be a defensive game. The Cougars multiple times tried to convert 4th downs only to give up the ball to the Huskies. But the Huskies couldn't reach the end zone easily either, They did managed a TD pass making the score at halftime  14-0.

Again, on their second play from scrimmage of the second quarter, the Huskies made a touchdown. Later they added a field goal making score 24-0 at the end of the third quarter and it was starting to look as if the Cougs would be shut out in front of their own crowd.

But the Cougars managed to make two touchdowns. On the second one, with not much time left in the game, they went for the 2-point conversion and missed it. The final score was 31-13. By then most of the crowd had left.

This gives the Huskies a 8-5 record on the season and Coach Chris Petersen the first 8-win season for a first-year coach in Husky history (although, he had 13 games to do it in). The Huskies will be going to a bowl and speculation is either the Cactus Bowl or the Armed Forces Bowl (both on January 2nd).

The bad news is, the Huskies were only 4-5 in conference. Admittedly, the Pac-12 is a tough conference with many teams ranked or formerly ranked.

I'm hoping next year Petersen will have made his imprint on the team and it will be a more cohesive and unified group. It'll be tough to compete in the Pac-12 (with Oregon consistently being a top-ranked team) but if anyone can do it, I think it is Petersen.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Love/Hate Movie Trailers

The Star Wars VII The Force Awakens teaser trailer came out yesterday. You can watch it here.  I won't.

I have this love/hate relationship with movie trailers (also called "previews"). I enjoy watching them as they are often better than the movies they are promoting. They are fun and I enjoy analyzing how they try to sell you on a movie (sometimes I think I should have been in advertising).

But, if it's for a movie I want to see, I don't want to watch the trailer. Why? One word: spoilers. Trailers often show way too much giving away plot twists (or hints at plot twists). I hate sitting in a theater watching a movie and thinking "Oh, he's going to betray the hero because the trailer hinted at it" and then being right.

I have the same problem with previews on television and sometimes book blurbs. They give too much away (I always try not to give too much away in my book blurbs).

Once I went to see a movie with my son and a trailer came on for another movie I wanted to see. I put my coat over my head and hummed loudly so I couldn't hear anything. I'll mute the TV and put my hand up so I can't see the screen when an ad for a movie I want to see comes on (lately, the third Hobbit movie and Interstellar). If I'm watching a television show regularly, I never watch the "next episode" previews for the same reason.

I wonder if it's because I'm a writer I see things other people don't and can figure out plot points and twists with less information. Or maybe everyone else has this problem.

But if I don't want to see the movie, or don't care that much about spoilers, I really enjoy trailers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Mary Louise Davie and TR Goodman


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Mary Louise Davie and TR Goodman

Mary Louise Davie

Mary Louise Davie is an author of hard Science Fiction; a form of Science Fiction that offers validity in the details – scientific or technical.

Having a background that includes working as a Chemist, then working in IT, but most of all a love of Theoretical physics she is able to draw on that background to create reality within her fiction.

The author grew up in rural Scotch Plains in Union County, New Jersey;  a quaint town that provided earthly charm and adventures that fueled her imagination. This was combined with a father that first introduced Mary Louise to the night sky and the beauty of the stars and a mother that was an English teacher at the Scotch Plains – Fanwood High School and provided both a love for reading and an understanding of literature.

After years of writing just because she had to, a friend convinced her to send her stuff out. She has been publishing books since that time.

Mary Louise currently resides in West Milford, New Jersey with her big German Sheppard puppy, Kazi (short for Casmir after The Dutch Physicist and a character in her new book.)

Mary's Books:

Sanacion: The Black Hole Mission (paperback and Kindle)

Sanacion II: We Are the Aliens (paperback and Kindle)

Mary's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

TR Goodman

TR Goodman was born after a volcanic eruption with a love of scifi and fantasy. Armed with a pen and sonic screwdriver, he now writes his own stories.

TR's Books:

My Name Is Michael Bishop 

Abigail Abernathy: All-Night Analytical Engine Analyst 

Broken Habit 

TR's Links:

Website (and blog)
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Goodreads


From today's program



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hand Dryers are Unhealthy

I've always hated those hand dryers in some public restrooms. I can dry my hands with a towel in about 5 seconds. Those hand dryers, especially the older models that used to be ubiquitous, you had to "dry" your hands for what felt like five minutes to get them dry enough to finish drying your hands on your pants. I hated them.

The newer ones are better. The high speed ones only take about four minutes to get your hands dry enough to use your pants. And the Dyson AirBlade models actually work, but still take longer than using a paper towel.

I have been known to in fast food restaurants to walk out of the bathroom with wet hands, go to the napkin dispenser, and use a bunch of napkins to dry my hands.

Suffice it to say, I loath hand dryers.

And now I have another reason: they are unsanitary.

According to a Leeds University study, the hand dryer splatters bacteria around. The air around hand dryers has 27 times the bacteria than the air around towel dispensers. (And, towel dispensers don't blow that nasty air on your hands):
The study shows that both jet and warm air hand dryers spread bacteria into the air and onto users and those nearby. 
And now we have yet another reason to hate hand dryers. They are filthy.



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Mystery of the Semicolon.

Once upon a time there was a poor, misunderstood punctuation mark: the semicolon. Not quite a colon, not quite a comma, the deprived little mark lived a life of obscurity and incorrect usage.

But it doesn't have to be that way; even you can learn to use the semicolon correctly. Because for about 99% of the time you'll use it, it's very easy.

A semicolon separates two complete sentences that are closely related. The key word there is "complete." If you can't put a period in place of the semicolon, you are using it incorrectly. For example:

CORRECT:
"It look like it's going to snow; I think I'll put my snow tires on."

INCORRECT:
"It looks like it's going to snow; snow tire time."

(As you can see, "snow tire time" is not a complete sentence. In that case I would put either a colon (:) or an emdash.)

We could write the first sentence as two sentences: "It look like it's going to snow. I think I'll put my snow tires on." So that means using a semicolon is correct, assuming the sentences are related. For example:

CORRECT:
"There's a great movie on TV tonight; it looks like a good night to stay home."

INCORRECT:
"There's a great movie on TV tonight; my house is blue."

In the second case, the sentences are not closely related so a semicolon would not be appropriate. Now there are no hard-and-fast rules on what is closely related so use your best judgement. Usually, if the second sentence completes the thought, that's the time to use the semicolon.

Also note, after the semicolon you do not capitalize the first word as you would if they were two separate sentences (unless you would capitalize it anyway as proper noun or pronoun).

There is one other use for the semicolon and it has to do with long lists in one sentence. But as a fiction writer you are unlikely to run across that need.

And with just a little care, you too can help the little semicolon out of obscurity and use it correctly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Huskies Win to Secure Bowl Eligibility

Last night, late, the University of Washington Huskies played the Oregon State Beavers. Pretty much expected to be a lack-luster game between two middle-of-the-Pac teams, it was shunted off to the 7:30 time slot on the Pac-12 Network. But that didn't seem to diminish the enthusiasm of the Husky fans at this year's last home game.

The game started with a Husky sack of the Beaver's quarterback on the first play. The Beavers then went three-and out to give the Huskies the ball. The Huskies almost immediately capitalized on this, making a touchdown with 11:40 left in the first quarter.

While late in the second quarter the Beavers seemed to be gaining momentum (down 17-0) with a touchdown, an interception turned the game back the Huskies' way and from then on it was the Dawg's day. Or night. The final score was 37-13. The Beavers managed one more touchdown, went for the 2-point conversion, and missed it.

The Beavers needed to win this game to be bowl eligible so they had incentive to fight hard as it's very unlikely they'll manage to beat #3 Oregon next week.

The Huskies looked very good last night. This is a talented team that if it could overcome mistakes would have a much better record. Last week they had 13 penalties for over 100 yards. Last night they had a much improved 5. If they had played #14 Arizona last week as well as they played last night, they probably would have won.

This win makes the Huskies 7-5 for the season, but only 3-5 in the Pac-12. Still, now the Huskies will be playing in the post-season in a bowl game, probably an early one.

I think Coach Chris Petersen sort of had a rude awakening going from the Mountain West Conference where his Boise State Broncos dominated to the Pac-12. Quite often Boise was the only team in the Mountain West conference that was ranked. But that was playing those other second-tier Mountain West teams.

Now he's in the Pac-12. He's had to play 5 ranked teams (and have lost to them all). Right now, half of the Pac-12 teams are ranked and eight have been ranked at some point in the season.

Petersen needs to figure out his competition is much stronger than what's he's used to.

Next week is the Apple Cup, the annual cross-state rivalry game between Washington and Washington State. This year it's in Pulman. And with the Apple Cup, anything can happen.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Steve Alten and Rachael L. McIntosh


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Steve Alten and Rachael L. McIntosh

Steve Alten

Steve Alten
Steve Alten is the NY Times & International best-selling author of 14 published novels, two of which have been optioned as movies. He is also founder and director of Adopt-An-Author, a free secondary school reading program used by over ten thousand teachers.

Steve's books include:

MEG: Origins (ebook only)

The Omega Project

Sharkman

Steve's Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Rachael L. McIntosh

Rachael L. McIntosh books are inspired by her real life experiences working for a major US defense contractor, her dealings with national news outlets, and her involvement in a US Presidential campaign.


Rachael's novel:


Rachael's links:


From today's show:



Sunday, November 16, 2014

We Beat Ourselves . . .

I should be working on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I'm so traumatized by yesterday's University of Washington Huskies football loss I'm having trouble concentrating.

Yesterday, against #14 Arizona, the Huskies dominated from the start, their offense able to move the ball, their defense holding Arizona better then anyone expected.

But they kept making mistakes. Bad snaps leading to fumbles (and in one case, a missed PAT; who the hell misses a PAT?). A fumble in the last few minutes of the game giving the ball to the Wildcats which they then were able to turn into a game-winning field goal. Arizona won by one point (the one point of that missed PAT).

In addition to those miscues, the Huskies kept getting penalties including one that cost them a touchdown.

In other words, we beat ourselves with mistakes and penalties. The final score was 27-26.

We have two games left and we have to win one of them to be bowl eligible. Next week we play Oregon State at home. OSU is 5-5. But they'll be coming off an upset victory over #6 Arizona State late yesterday. The Huskies are 6-5 after yesterday's loss.

Then the last game of the year is the Apple Cup against Washington State University Cougars.  Ironically, they beat Oregon State last week after losing their star quarterback to a career-ending broken fibia. They had a bye this week and next week fast Arizona State. I expect Arizona State to drop a bit in the polls with that lost to Oregon State.

So far this has been a frustrating season, the first one for new head coach Chris Petersen. But it takes time to get a new program going and next year he'll have had almost two years to change the culture at Washington and get the program under his control. He'll also have players he recruited. I hate to say it (I've been saying it for over 10 years, now) but next year should be better.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Special Guest Stephanie Osborn

Today on a special edition of the Speculative Fiction Cantina we welcome scientist and writer Stephanie Osborn 

Stephanie Osborn 

Interstellar Woman of Mystery

Stephanie Osborn
Few can claim the varied background of Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery.

Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. 

In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter. 

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens. 

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

The Mystery continues.

Stephanie's books include:

The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus (DD#1-4, ebook only) (SF/Mystery) 

A Case of Spontaneous Combustion (DD#5) (SF/Mystery) 

El Vengador (Paranormal horror) 

Stephanie's Links:

Blog ("Comet Tales")


Movie Review: Snowpiercer

One of the great things about science fiction (and fantasy to an extent) is you can put humans in some unique circumstance and see how they react. The good science fiction has the the humans reacting as real life people would.

 The movie Snowpiercer is such an experiment. You sort of have to forget the ridiculous circumstances which would be destroyed in a with a moment's thought (see spoilers below) and look at the basic humanity of the characters. And this is where Snowpiercer succeeds as some science fiction doesn't. In the movie (based on a graphic novel, I believe), an macroengineering project to "solve" global warming goes horribly wrong and the entire planet is plunged into a super ice age. The only surviving humans are on a train (!) that circles the globe once per year. Depending on your "ticket" where you are on the train determines how well you live. The people on the back of the train, who apparently didn't have tickets, live very poorly and eat "protein bars." The story of the movie is a revolt by these people against the upper classes in the forward cars of the very long train.

At times brutal, other times funny, the movie moves forward and forward, contrasting the squalled existence of the people in the last car with the luxury of the forward cars. The goal of the rebels is to reach the engine and take over the train.

My biggest problem with this movie is the economic system. The people in the last car don't work in order to provide luxuries for the forward cars. They don't do anything but bitch. The forward cars have lots of luxuries, but where do they come from? This, to me, made the movie even less realistic than the problems discussed below (see spoilers).

So while there are implausibilities, the reason for the movie isn't any science, it's to explore the human condition under these circumstances. But we don't learn much other than people without much will rebel if they can. It was an interesting movie but not very enjoyable. And I found the ending implausible.

Now, I shall list all the other problems I had that are SPOILERS:

1) The train is supposed to circle the Earth once per year. The Earth is about 25,000 miles in circumference.  Let's say for some reason the train travels twice that, 50,000 miles per year. That would mean it would have to travel at a speed of 5.7 miles per hour. Yet in the movie it is shown speeding along as if it's going around 100 mph.

2) The forward cars have luxuries but there doesn't seem to be anyway for them to get them. At one point the characters walk through a freezer with sides of beef hanging. But they never walk through a car with cattle.

3) The protein bars are made out of insects that are mashed up in a large vat. But where do the insects come from?

4) And, at the end: the polar bear will most likely eat them.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Four Novels

I have five published novels (see links above). But I also have four novels somewhere between writing "Chapter One" and being published. This is keeping me busy and a bit frustrated.

1) The Terror of Tombstone, a fantasy western (yes) is waiting to be edited at World Castle Publishing. We have a signed contract and so now it's just a matter of waiting (and working with the publisher on a cover design).

2) Treasure of the Black Hole is at a different publisher, still under consideration (I hope). I think I'll email them Monday for an update.

3) The Alien Fleet Wars was just emailed to my friend Sare for proofreading, after my wife proofread it. Next comes having my wife read it out loud to me, then another edit by me, then beta reads.

4) Untitled Treasure of the Black Hole sequel is my NaNoWriMo project. I have written just over 21,000 words but I haven't hit today's minimum quota of 1,667 words, yet. But I have written myself into a corner and I need to figure out how my hero is going to save himself . . . again!

My point? When I decided to write full time, at first I wrote occasionally. Now I'm writing nearly constantly. I'm not sure what I'll do after NaNoWriMo and that project is finished. I don't have any ideas at the moment. But I'm sure one will come to me. Maybe I'll do that long awaited Rock Killer sequel.