Sorry Guys, the Ladies Make the Avengers Rock!

I saw The Avengers movie on opening weekend. My son Jeremy and I are HUGE fans of super hero movies and this one blew our socks off. Probably the best ever (at least the top three). Great plot, great dialogue and a stellar cast. I had my doubts about Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, but he did an excellent job. However, the boys couldn’t hold a candle to the girls, even outnumbering them more than two to one.

I’m going to do this in order of screen time to avoid having to pick a best. That would just over tax my poor testosterone driven brain. Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s uber-hot right hand gal and (finally) love interest. Let me say that Daisy Duke has nothing on Pepper in the denim shorts department. Pepper wraps the genius playboy Stark around her libido with some of the best dialogue and a mouth that makes a guy wonder why the Ironman isn’t kissing her all the time. Paltrow owns this role. I really hope that as the franchise continues we see much more of this sexy, smart blonde aide de camp.

Not being a huge comic book reader, I was unfamiliar with the character of Maria Hill. Played by the gorgeous Cobie Smulders (I think her real name sounds more like a secret agent than her character’s name), Hill kicks some extreme butt in this movie. And the woman can wear spandex like…. oh, well, words escape me. I write a lot of  strong female characters and I love Maria Hill. She is capable, gets the job done and handles herself like a pro. Her up-in-a-bun hairstyle kept me wondering what she looked like when the hair came down. Sigh. Put some glasses on her and the librarian fantasy comes to life. Sexy and smart… I see a theme emerging here. Thinking man’s heroines.

Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff… was the cherry on the cupcake of this movie… but with the kick of an habanero chile. Cute short haircut that let her move… and oh, how this gal can move, and a skin tight uniform that was always flattering and often quite a tease. The only thing sexier than how her mouth looked was some of the lines that came out of it. (Sorry, didn’t write any down, you’ll have to watch it for yourself). Don’t think for a minute that tying Natasha to a chair will slow her down (no, I won’t go any further with that thought), she will still kick your ass up one side and down the other.  Johansson does some very good acting in this movie. There are some great, intense scenes with her and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Yes, if I was young, good looking and single, I would stalk marry her.

Now here’s the real kicker; none of these gals has any super human powers, any suit of armor or special weapons. They are completely human and have to rely on their wits, training and (when dealing with some of the men) their senses of humor. Sure, it’s easy to be awesome when you turn into a green giant, wear a cool red and gold flying suit or have a science experiment running through your veins. Or you’re a demi-god. Nope, these three ladies had to earn the spotlight with nothing but their good looks… OK, that’s a pretty big advantage, but still… talent, skill, sexy lips, and some rockin’ derrieres.

Hated to see them go, but loved to watch them walk away. Maybe the next Avengers movie will be shot in 3-DD.  What? You expected something classy? Please…


The Joys of Being Indie

Indiana Jones, the movie legend brought to life by Harrison Ford is one of my favorite characters. Didn’t see that coming did you? Yes, I am talking about being an Indie Author, but I’m using a metaphor (bigger than a meta three, smaller than a meta five: it’s Friday, bear with me)

Indiana is a college professor and actually holds the title of Doctor. (PhD seems to stand for Potentially Hot and Dangerous in his case.) This puts him in the category of professional. However, fedoras and whips are not standard issue for most professors and they make Dr. Jones stand out and very, very cool.

That’s the way I see Indie Authors. We are professionals (as soon as you get paid for doing something, by definition, you are a professional) and we do the same thing that mainstream authors do; we write. But we brandish our Facebook Fedoras and our Twitter whips, post wild adventures on our blogs and are so brazen that sometimes we even design our own book covers (gasp!) Guess what? We are taking over the publishing world. Why? Because the world loves a hero and an underdog. Come on, Indie took on Nazis, natives and all sorts of villains with women and children as side kicks. Not only that, some of us are really great writers. I know because I read Indie books all the time.

Freedom of choice is what I see as the driving force behind the Indie movement, both in publishing and film. Corporate America would like nothing more than to make everyone fit into their little boxes, conform to their market surveys, follow the demands of their focus groups and keep making them rich. Too bad, the Independent Movement is here to stay. We will write the books and scripts with characters that speak to us and refuse to be silenced. We will publish and produce art that continually pushes the envelope and gives our readers and audiences more bang for their buck. Deal with it.

Time for me to don my fedora and hit the keyboard (the whip belongs to my muse, that’s a story for another blog). Maybe today I will get the golden idol and barely make it to the plane. Sometimes I get punched in the face and tied up or trapped in a tunnel full of snakes (Why is it always snakes?). Then there are the times when nothing works and I jump out of the plane in a life raft and start over, hitting The Giant Delete Button on the way out. But that’s OK, because all of these are MY decisions. When the muse is on her game and the characters are doing their part and the plot moves perfectly, I’m just the guy writing it all down. When someone reads one of my stories and tells me how much they liked it, I can stand proud on the mountain top. I think Dr. Jones would approve.

Dear Bank of America: WTF is your problem?

Corporate America has been doing its best to get my dander up and this week it’s at full mast. It started with Cumulus Media and KLOS (see my last blog post) and now Bank of America has thrown their hat into the ring. I already hated doing business with them, but my loathing has been accelerated to a whole new level this week.

I don’t bank with B of A and never will, but they hold both of my mortgages. The modification was a mixed blessing, like seeing your mother in law drive over a cliff in your new BMW (just kidding Mom). Happy to save our house, really unhappy that BOFA had any part in it. So here’s the deal. I get paid every two weeks. Mortgage is due once a month. Sometimes the two don’t coincide. Usually they don’t. Add Christmas and paying off our car (yes, much happy dancing when the pink slip arrived) to the mix, and January’s payment was a little late. Not 30 days, more like ten. We set up an automatic payment to be sure they got their money as soon as we had it. This was all done BEFORE the due date. One day late and the phone starts ringing.

Goldilocks (my wife): “Hello?”

BOFA idiot: “Can I talk to Mr. or Mrs. Owen?”

GL: “This is Mrs. Owen.”

BI: “Can you verify your address?”

GL: “You have our address, you have all of our information.”

BI: “Are you still living in the house?”

GL: “Seeing as how we’re paying for it, yes. BTW, we have a payment set up with you for next week. Why are you calling?”

I should interject here that the calls are automated until they are sure we are on the line, then one of their idiots picks up. No one looks at our account before they waste our time to see that we have, indeed, scheduled the payment. Exemplary customer service.

BI: “You haven’t made the payment yet. Can you make it today?”

GL: “Are you deaf or just stupid? (No, she didn’t say this, but I would have.) I told you the payment is scheduled already. It’s in your computer system. If I could have made it today, I would have scheduled it for today.

BI: {endless questions at this point. GL hangs up on her}

This does not happen once a day. They call six to eight times a day. I answered one day and only the picture of Karma pounding her fist into her hand prevented me from bringing the young woman on the other end of the line to tears. I’m pretty sure I could have done it. She sounded about twenty.

Finally, I had had enough. Thank goodness for caller ID. We always know it’s them. Says “Loan Admin”. I picked up the phone and went OFF:

Me: “First of all, no, I’m not answering any of your questions. Secondly, you WILL put me through to a supervisor RIGHT NOW! (At this point, Karma was waving pom poms and her sister Justice was doing some great high kicks).

BI: “Just a moment, sir.” (the Sir was a little snide, but I let it go)

Mr. Mobley, collections supervisor got on the phone. He got the other barrel.

Me: “Here’s the deal. Your company is calling six to eight times a day to collect our payment when we have already made arrangements. So here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to start calling the Federal Trade Commission, HUD, the California Dept. of Corporations and any other government agency I can think of, and I’m going to report your company for harassment, EVERY DAY, until you stop calling us. I get home at 3:00, I have two hours to do nothing but make phone calls until they come down on you like a ton of bricks. Not that it will be anything new for BofA, your company has been sued numerous times for stupid business practices. If you don’t get my payment as scheduled, feel free to call and remind me. Until then, I don’t want another phone call.

Mr. Mobley did not cry (that would have made my day) as apparently, this is a common complaint from their customers. Duh! Maybe that should tell you something. He did say he could suspend the calls manually, but it would take twenty four hours. OK, we’ll wait.I thanked Mr. Mobley for his time and told him I expected I would be talking to him again

The calls stopped, then we made the payment. Bank of America is a  pimple on the Ass of the Consumer Banking Industry and the world would be a better place if they were removed with an exfoliating scrub. Unfortunately, most of their counterparts are just as lousy as they are. *sigh* Putting HUD and the FTC on speed dial for next month. Stay tuned…

Another Great Talent Assassinated by Corporate America (and I’m PISSED!)

Yes, I changed my blog theme. I hated gray type and it wouldn’t allow me to edit and keep black type. See? Don’t piss me off…

OK, this is not as timely as it should be, but I can explain. I get up for work at 2:30 am, so I don’t listen to late night radio anymore. Too bad, because I really enjoy Jim Ladd’s show on KLOS here in L.A. He jocks the way I write this blog; uncensored and full steam ahead with no apologies (no, he doesn’t use the F-bomb that I’ve heard, but it’s often implied).

So I’m surfing the net for another reason and I read that Cumulus Media (big, heartless corporate monster) cut Ladd loose in October, along with 26 other folks. Nice timing, right before the holidays. Corporate America sucks again. Jim Ladd is a rock radio icon. He’s been in the business for forty years, longer than I’ve been listening to rock music. Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” album was inspired by Ladd. That’s a pretty big testament to the man’s chops.

So what happened? Jim Ladd promotes something call “Free Form Radio”. That means he picks or lets the listeners pick the songs he plays, not some corporate stooge armed with computer printouts and market studies. “Theme of Consciousness” was awesome as Ladd had listeners pick songs based on a single word or idea. “Head Sets” was an entire show dedicated songs that sound great in headphones. I heard music on his show I had NEVER heard before, and I was a mobile DJ for twenty years. The man is a THINKER and nothing scares the hell out of corporate America like someone with their own mind.

So, first of all, a great big WTF? to KLOS and Cumulus. Are you guys fucking crazy? Ladd’s show led his time slot in Arbitron ratings (according to my research) and isn’t that what you want? I mean, he still played commercials and that’s where the money is. Hello? Is anyone home? (picture me pounding on the head of some corporate stooge, aka Biff Tannen and George McFly) What a bunch of idiots. If I was a sponsor on KLOS, especially late night, I would have pulled my ads immediately. I’m not a sponsor, but I AM a listener… Correction, I WAS a listener, for the last 35 years. As of the writing of this blog, I am changing my radio presets. I’m done. There are plenty of places to hear classic rock. I’ll miss Mark and Brian in the mornings, but I’m considering them collateral damage in the war on corporate stupidity. I will be writing them a farewell letter. I think it’s only fair; they didn’t fire Jim and I don’t expect them to quit in protest. Gotta pay the bills. However, they need to know that the company they work for has cost them a loyal listener. Like from day one. Yep, I was there when they started and I’ve listened to them every since. Not like they’ll miss me. They don’t even know me. It’s the only recourse at my disposal.

BOTTOM LINE: First, the Good News: Jim Ladd is slated to start at Sirius XM this month on a daily show. Yeah! Now for the bad news: Our society is hurtling toward mediocrity. “Don’t Stand Out; Conform” is the message being blasted into our senses. Pop artists all look and sound the same. Authors find a formula that works and write it to death. Thank goodness for the Indie authors, musicians and film makers who keep pushing the envelope. Corporate America manages to buy some of us out. Let’s face it, if one of the big six calls tomorrow and offers me five million dollars to write their way, I’ll sell out. I have kids to get through college. I’m pretty sure I’m safe, if for no other reason than the title of this blog. Oh, and I tend to put the word FUCK in most of my blogs. It works like stooge repellent.

A Quick Formatting Trick

If you are formatting your book for Createspace or another print on demand service, this trick can save you time and aggravation. I know, not my usual type of post, but I write whatever comes to mind, and this is where my brain went this morning.

I use headers in my books. Left (even) page is the title of the book and right (odd) page is my name. I don’t want the headers to print on pages with chapter headings as it makes the page look cluttered and out of balance in MNSHO. Now, I can insert section breaks and suppress the header and all of that crap, but it can be a pain in the butt. Instead, I simply blank out the header with a graphic rectangle. In Word, go to View-Tool Bars and click on the Drawing Tool Bar.

This is what the Drawing Toolbar looks like at the bottom of the screen.

Click on the little rectangle, place the cursor where you want it, click and drag large enough to cover your header. HINT: make the rectangle big enough to cover the entire top of the page, then you can just copy and paste it wherever it is needed and you won’t have to resize it.

At this point you will notice a big black line around the rectangle, not exactly the look we were shooting for. Double click the rectangle and a dialogue box will open. The “Fill” choice is white by default, leave it that way. Under “Line Color”, click the drop down arrow and click “No Line”, then click OK. The rectangle is still there, but it is invisible when you print or convert your MSS to a pdf file. With the rectangle selected, you can hit Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-P to paste on whatever page has unwanted headers.

You can use this trick to block out anything in your original that you don’t want to show later when it is printed, like dedications, drawings/photos or odd notes without changing your page layout or spacing.

Day the Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour #2: Priorities for Next Year

As we wind down this year, I have little interest in reviewing the last twelve months unless there were some notable mistakes and/or accomplishments. None come to mind at the moment, so I will move on to planning for the new year.

Last night I sat down and made a list of all the projects on my “To-Do” list. I have either started writing them or they are part of a series that has been published (the one exception is teaching myself to use GIMP for making book covers.) There are thirteen items on said list. I am not the only writer in this boat, I’m sure. We are a creative lot and when the juices get flowing, they can spill into all kinds of cool, new projects begging for our attention. Here’s how I sorted my list. It’s called a decision matrix. I listed all of my projects vertically (I used an Excel spreadsheet because I’m a big geek, but you can do this on paper.) Across the top I listed them again, left to right. Wherever a project intersects with itself, I colored the cell black (you can use an X on paper). I started at the top of the list and compared my first project with each of the others across the top. If the project along the side took priority over the one on the top, I put a one in the square. If not, I left it blank. When I finished, I counted the ones in each row (actually, the computer counted them) and sorted by the Rank column. The project with the highest score was put at the top of the list, second most came next until the project with the lowest score was at the bottom of the list. Now I have a way to prioritize my time.

This is a shot of my decision matrix before I sorted it using the rank numbers.

It doesn’t mean that every project must be completed before the one below it, but the higher the priority, the more time I will dedicate to it. Sometimes you just have a great thought on a future project and it just HAS to be written down. At least when I have a schedule, I know what I should be doing. It’s up to my muse to keep me on track.

CONTEST: In the spirit of the season and the blog tour, everyone who buys an ebook  copy of Chronicles of Alcamene Book One: Gunn Sight ( ) will be entered in the drawing for an autographed PAPERBACK! (wow! like, you know, paper and a cover and you can read it in the bathroom at work! Cool, huh?) copy of the book. Just email me a copy of your receipt and I will put your name in the hat. I will give away 1 copy for every 50 entries. Yes, you can enter more than once if you have more than one Amazon account. If you buy AND leave a review (good, bad or otherwise) I will enter your name AGAIN! Look, I’m an Indie author and I am not above bribing you to buy my book. BTW, I will autograph the book for someone else if you like and send it to them. Yes, too late for Christmas, but what a great gift to give the sci-fi fan in your life. They are certain to have a birthday in the next twelve months, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

We have fifty authors participating in this promotion, so be sure to hop over to their blogs as well and check out the cool things they are giving away. Of course, I  would ask you to check out Matthew Wood’s story “The Day the Sun Stopped Shining” (you didn’t think I was clever enough to think of that, did you?) .

Here is the link to the Blog Tour Home page:   All of the authors are listed there (saving me the trouble of doing so here) so please check out their blogs, books and contests.

The Day the Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour

As a resident of Southern California (where it was 80 degrees on Christmas) the title of this promotion strikes a chord. Life just about grinds to a halt here in the Southland when it rains… no sunshine? Forever? OMG, Lindsey and Brittney would pitch a fit and the tanning salons would be doing a banner business. Glow sticks and glow necklaces, heretofore used only as accessories at raves would become haute couture for the masses, while Foster Grant stock would take a nose dive. (This would, of course, prompt the Federal Government to invent dark glasses with backlighting for their agents… sadly, our tax dollars at work.)  The ‘Edward Cullen pasty white complexion’ would become all the rage (again) and L.A.’s nightlife would be a non-stop party, putting Mardi Gras to shame.

There is a downside (besides all of us freezing to death and suffocating when the plants can no long produce oxygen), the vampires known to inhabit Los Angeles would now infiltrate every part of society. No longer relegated to crummy night jobs like 7-11 clerks and school district security guards, they could get jobs at T-Mobile and Verizon, the cable company and the DMV. You think i’ts bad dealing with a customer service rep from a third world country, wait till you’ve had to put up with the attitude of a  vampire who’s been 22 for 400 years and  can’t sleep because the sun never rises. You’ll be begging for broken English and the endless dial tones of being disconnected. Gives a whole new meaning to “life sucks”. What, you didn’t think that would come up? Is this the first time you’ve read this blog? You should know better.

CONTEST: In the spirit of the season and the blog tour, everyone who buys an ebook  copy of Chronicles of Alcamene Book One: Gunn Sight ( ) will be entered in the drawing for an autographed PAPERBACK! (wow! like, you know, paper and a cover and you can read it in the bathroom at work! Cool, huh?) copy of the book. Just email me a copy of your receipt and I will put your name in the hat. I will give away 1 copy for every 50 entries. Yes, you can enter more than once if you have more than one Amazon account. If you buy AND leave a review (good, bad or otherwise) I will enter your name AGAIN! Look, I’m an Indie author and I am not above bribing you to buy my book. BTW, I will autograph the book for someone else if you like and send it to them. Yes, too late for Christmas, but what a great gift to give the sci-fi fan in your life. They are certain to have a birthday in the next twelve months, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

We have fifty authors participating in this promotion, so be sure to hop over to their blogs as well and check out the cool things they are giving away. Of course, I  would ask you to check out Matthew Wood’s story “The Day the Sun Stopped Shining” (you didn’t think I was clever enough to think of that, did you?) .

Here is the link to the Blog Tour Home page:   All of the authors are listed there (saving me the trouble of doing so here) so please check out their blogs, books and contests.

Now then, the ghost of Christmas yesterday is still haunting the living room, so I am off.

email: edward (at) storiesbyedwardowen (dot) com


Henry’s Gift: A Christmas (Sci-fi) Romance

If one were to stand on Earth on a clear night and look towards the bottom of the constellation of Orion, one would see a tiny speck of light. That particular speck is a star that is much larger than our own sun, but also older and in the final million years or so of its life. It is not nearly as hot or bright as our beloved Sol, and none of its five planets have the necessary requirements to support life as we know it. However, around one of these planets orbits a moon, which according the engineers that know such things, has the right density, rotation and several other factors that we humans need in order to survive. It is on this moon that our story takes place…


“Yes, my love?”

“Would you be a dear and check the well? I think the pump motor stalled. I hate to send you down there again, but I have an entire house to clean and no water.”

“Yes, dear, you know I don’t mind. You have plenty of time; the ship isn’t due for another two weeks. There’s a good chance the crew won’t have time to come in the house at any rate.”

“But that’s Christmas day. They absolutely must see our tree and share Christmas dinner. I feel bad that we don’t have gifts for them, but dinner is a gift, isn’t it, Henry?”

“Yes, Margaret, dinner is most certainly a gift. The wise men should have taken gold, frankincense and a pot of your vegetable soup to the manger.”

“Oh, you’re teasing me. But you will ask them to stay, won’t you Henry? I mean, really ask them? Tell them it’s Christmas. Who wants to eat crummy ship food on Christmas?”

“I will ask them. I have to wait until they land, there’s some sort of interference on the radio just now. Let me get to that pump. You’ll want a bath later and a warm one, too, I’m betting.”

“Thank you, dear. Henry, how long is till Christmas? How long, exactly?”

“Thirteen days, seven hours, thirty six minutes and twelve seconds, exactly.”


“Are you sure? You checked the calculations?”

“I checked them three times, Henry. I may not have your brain, but I know how to calculate power loss ratios.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you, Margaret. I’m just being thorough. I can’t help it.”

“I know. Did you try the radio again?”

“Yes, still nothing. Whatever interference we’ve been getting is still there. I can’t reach the ship or any of the other outposts. It’s never been out this long.”

“Do you think they’ll be here in time?”

“I don’t know. I can’t imagine what would keep them from getting here, but I can’t imagine the radio not working for over a week, either.”

“What if they don’t make it, Henry? What then?”

“We have a contingency plan. The cradle would protect you …”

“NO! I’m not doing that. I told you before, that is not an option.”

“This is upsetting you. Let’s not talk about it right now. We still have almost a week.”

“I need a hug. I need you to tell me everything is going to be OK, Henry. I need to hear that, even if you have to lie to me.”

“You know I can’t lie to you, not even when you ask me to. But everything could be OK. Does that help?”

“Yes, that helps. How would I live without you, Henry? What would I do? I love you.”

“I love you too. It’s my job to see that does not happen, Margaret. We’ll discuss it again in a few days.”


“Henry, are you awake?”

“You know I am.”

“Tomorrow’s Christmas and they aren’t coming, are they?”

“I don’t think so. There’s been nothing at all on the radio. They would be in our system by now. I should be able to pick up their signal.”

“How long can we wait?”

“You know the answer as well as I do, Margaret. If we don’t power up the cradle before the shield collapses… well, there’s no sense in dwelling on the outcome.”

“It’s Christmas. Maybe we’ll get a miracle.”

“Maybe, but you know I can’t wait for one. I have to keep you safe. I don’t have a choice.”

“I know, I know. First Law and all that nonsense. What if I refuse to let you do it?”

“It won’t matter. You can’t order me to let you die any more than you could order me to take another’s life. Why are we having this discussion? There really isn’t any other alternative.”

“You’re right, you’re always right. Can’t we wait another hour? I want you to hold me and kiss me till then.”

“Yes, we can wait another hour, but then we have to start.”

“OK, one more hour. I’m still hoping for a miracle.”


“Margaret, it’s time to get started. Go ahead; you aren’t going to hurt me.”

“Sorry. I can never get used to the idea of cutting you open.”

“That’s perfect. You should be able to see the cover now.”

“I see it. It unscrews, just like a jar lid?”

“Only a quarter of a turn, then lift it straight up.”

“OK, I got it. It’s very beautiful. You have a beautiful heart, Henry.”

“Thank you, but it’s a trilennium crystal.”

“Oh, stop it. If I want to say this big red rock in the middle of your chest is your heart, then let me have my romantic moment.”

“OK, Margaret. I’m giving you my heart.”

“Henry, how long will you… you know… last?”

“My batteries will keep me aware for an hour and my memory circuits intact for several days. When the ship gets here, they can install another crystal and I’ll be as good as new. The cradle will keep you safe until then. My crystal is large enough to power it for a month.”

“Thank you, Henry. I’ll see you when the ship gets here. You know I love you.”

“You’re welcome, Margaret. I love you too. Oh, Merry Christmas. I’m sorry we won’t get to have our dinner together.”

“Me, too. Merry Christmas, Henry.”


“Captain, we have a faint energy reading on the surface.”

“Is it natural?”

“Not likely. The energy signature matches trilennium crystal, but there’s no trilennium anywhere in this sector.”

“What ever is down there must be old. Trilennium hasn’t been used for fifty years. Send a scout team down to check it out.”

“Yes, sir. Bridge to Science Officer. Please have EVS team dispatched and check for survivors. Sending coordinates now.”

“Copy that. Will report when we get to the surface.”

** ***

“Captain, the scout team is calling in their report.”

“On the speaker, please.”

“Science Officer Wilkins, Captain. We found an old outpost down here.”

“Are there any signs of life, Mr. Wilkins?”

“There’s a woman’s body in a cryo-cradle and a robot lying next to her. Looks like she tried to use his trilennium cyrstal to power up the cradle. What I don’t understand is how the crystal got back into the robot. She left a recording on the cradle’s computer, but we’ll have to bring it back to the ship to play it.”

“Very well, I’ll meet you on the science deck.”


“OK, that should do it. The circuits are very old, but the cold kept most of them intact.”

“This is… Margaret Hansen. The robot lying next to me is my husband, Henry…power has failed… our shield… in a matter of hours… ship has not arrived… may not make it. At his insistence … used Henry’s crystal to activate the cradle and I waited for him to power down. Minutes before… failed completely, I put the crystal back into Henry. I knew if he reactivated, he would try to save me. First Law requires…  His memory is better than mine. It’s… perfect. He will remember us. I cannot live without him. The cradle… on battery power, so I won’t feel anything. Thank you, Henry. That was the best Christmas gift anyone ever gave me…”

“Good work, Mr. Wilkins. Please forward a report to Command. They’ll  try to locate Ms. Hansen’s family.”

“Captain, there’s something I don’t understand.”

“What’s that?”

“She called him a robot, but according to our tests he was a cyborg. I thought they outlawed cybernetics.”

“They did, thirty years ago. He must have been one of the volunteers. Most of them had terminal diseases and cybernetics was their way to cheat death.”

“Why would he let her think he was a robot?”

“So he could protect her. He knew she couldn’t argue with the First Law. He let her think he had no choice but to sacrifice himself.  According to the log, they were waiting for a ship. If one had come within a month, they would have made it, but she changed everything when she put the crystal back. Too bad; a robot would have survived down there, but a cyborg didn’t have a chance.”

As the Blog Goes, So Goes the Book

Writers blog and boggers write and it is often hard to tell which came first. I suspect that for anyone over the age of thirty, and certainly over forty, writing probably came first. Forty years ago when I started writing (yes, as a child, no, I didn’t serve in Viet Nam) home computers were the stuff of sci-fi books and the Internet was unheard of.

Today, almost everyone who writes has a blog of some sort. It is a necessary part of our marketing mix. It keeps us writing about something, anything, when our muse takes a powder and leaves us with writer’s block (I tend to have the opposite problem, my muse drinks too much coffee). It’s a quick and easy way to introduce ourselves to potential readers. Which brings me to my point (in less than 200 words and 2 paragraphs, this is a personal best for me).

Most books go through some type of editing process. Critique groups, beta readers and paid editors help writers polish their craft. This allows us to be creative and worry about t crossing and i dotting later. Hopefully our finished books are free from typos, grammatical errors and plot snafus. Not a perfect process, to be sure, but every editing step helps. Blogs are generally not subject to these steps. I can tell.

If your goal is to be recognized as a writer, to sell the things you write and even (yes, we all have dreams) EARN A LIVING as a writer, remember that everything you put out to the public is a reflection of your talent. Sentences like: “There mom is not sure if their home or at school. They’re father did not no too.” will derail your career before it even starts. Before you compose that scathing email about my being critical of others, I made that sentence up. I did not copy it from anyone’s blog, book or other work. Relax, I’m making a point here.

I read a great many blogs, and I have learned some very useful skills in the process. I have to include “How Not to Write a Blog” on that list. I’m the first to admit that my writing is not perfect. I don’t even have an editor (yet) for my books. They like to be paid and my family likes to eat. Those two facts are currently mutually exclusive. I am prone to using commas where there should be semicolons. I know this because MS Word is kind enough to point it out. I have to spell some words out loud or I will screw them up…’necessary’ and ‘sentence’ come readily to mind. I can be overly descriptive, use the passive voice and when I’m cranking out words on, I often use ‘there’ in place of ‘their’. But, really? A blog is a few hundred words (several hundred in my case). If you can’t get that right, how on Earth can you hope to complete a collection of short stories or worse yet, a novel? Who is going to buy your books if your blog is full of typos and grammatical errors? If spelling and grammar are a challenge, there are many books and websites that can help. If you are going to write, you have to read. I’m lucky, I was encouraged to read as a kid (we didn’t have video games or a computer) and I have thousands of pages stored away in my mind that help me put words together.

I know it sounds like I’m being mean and overly critical, but if this bothers me, it’s going to bother your readers, at least some of them. Read your blog out loud before you post it. I do this with ALL my writing, and it’s amazing how many times things just don’t sound right or I find errors in grammar or even spelling. That’s because reading out loud forces you to slow down as you vocalize the words. It also let’s you hear the rhythm and flow of your writing. Look, if I mess something up, I want someone to tell me. Bad reviews will improve your writing far more than good ones. Problem is, no one really reviews blog posts. They make comments, but it is usually related to the content, not the writing style. It’s hard to tell someone their writing is not good, even if they are a stranger. Unfortunately, we are often reading posts written by friends (even if they are just cyber friends) and that makes such critiques twice as difficult.

Pay attention to your blog posts. Run them by someone whose writing skills you respect. Read books on grammar and spelling, read anything as long as you read. Indie authors get a bad rap for publishing shoddy work, and some of it is well deserved. Don’t let something as simple as a blog post add fuel to the fire. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Now get writing, your muse is giving me dirty looks.

A Parent’s Nirvana

No, I don’t mean the rock band. Wikipedia listed the following definition of nirvana:

“It is synonymous with the concept of liberation (moksha) which refers to release from a state of suffering after an often lengthy period of committed spiritual practice.”

OK, I’m taking some license with the term, especially the part about spiritual practice. But let me explain (oh, come on, you knew that was coming). I have three sons, lovingly referred to as “The Bears” by my wife and me. (If you saw how they ate and opened a cereal box, you would understand.) That would make her Goldilocks, but that’s another story. Right now, as of 3:50 this morning when I left for work, everything is working for the bears. I would knock on wood, but plastic shelves and a steel desk are the only items within reach of my fist at the moment.

Oldest bear Justin is 25. He and his girlfriend just found out that they were approved for their first apartment together. He has had a steady job now for three or four months at 5 Guys Burgers and Fries (yes, I will plug them, they are keeping him employed. Besides, their burgers are delicious) and life is finally going well for him. (AND he buys his own groceries now 🙂 He has had a few rough places to get through and often does things the hard way (no, not because he’s my son. Technically my stepson, so no DNA from me, but then there is environment). I’ve been his dad since he was 4, so I get to share all of the credit/blame/pride with my wife. Still looking for some wood to knock on….

Middle bear Jon is in EMT school and working retail. They love him at work. The firemen he did the ride along with said wonderful things about him. His girlfriend of three years? (I forget exactly) is a sweetie, too. Jon is also an amateur body builder, hence his grizzly sized appetite. No, I never looked that good, even when I was 19. He does look enough like me that I’m sure he shares my DNA. I’ll apologize when he’s old enough to understand. Apple… tree… you get the point. Hopefully he develops his mother’s good sense… someday.

Baby bear, Jeremy (oh, the alliteration thing? Family curse, happened to me and my brothers, too) is now a senior in high school and it looks like he will graduate on time. This might not seem like a big deal, but Jeremy has cerebral palsy and goes to school in a wheelchair. He is in mainstream classes, not special ed. This is also his third high school (long story) so this is a considerable accomplishment. And he has plans to go to college. 🙂

As is the case with most sane parents (I use the term loosely) I always love my boys. I don’t like to see them hurt but I know life is going to smack them in the head once in a while (literally, in the case of Jon’s motorcycle and Justin’s car accidents). It’s just nice to see everything going right for them. All at the same time. No, really, I will find some wood… oh, yeah, workbench… jinx avoided. So for today, nirvana rules the lives of the Bears and Goldilocks and I can stop and take a deep, well deserved breath. And get ready for the next bump in the road. If my cellphone rings and it’s one of the bears……..