Stretching Yourself Creatively

Finally, a more cheerful topic…hehe. This is going to be a short one because I want to put more time into finishing Parallax as soon as possible.

It’s often preached that you should stretch before you exercise. Stretching loosens up the muscles, warms up the body, and gets you ready to do your routine.

Surprise, surprise, your creative muscles work much the same way. Granted, they aren’t physical in nature unless you consider your brain, but the principle still applies. Creative muscles can get flabby when we limit ourselves to what we are most comfortable. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to stick with either what works or what we enjoy most, but anything that is good can be made better.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you are like myself, a writer who enjoys writing fiction. You do it every day, you rack up tons of practice time, and you’re probably pretty good at telling a story. So, why not explore non-fiction efforts like writing a blog or even submitting articles to magazines or newspapers? It doesn’t have to take up all your time and it doesn’t have to go anywhere specific. The point is that you are expanding your skill base and your experiences.

When we stretch ourselves creatively, we open up new doors of exploration. We take ourselves out of our nice, warm, and friendly surroundings and go into an unfamiliar jungle with a machete and cut ourselves a new trail. Every journey lends itself to enhancing what we already know and I’ve never believed in a wasted learning experience.

So, unfurl that creative flag, strap on your pack, and get out there. Your world is waiting for you. 🙂

The Lighter Side of Technology

Let’s discuss the lighter side of Technology. In other words, how about some jokes about the things that make our lives easier?

1) If a Smart Phone is so smart, how come I have to be the one to press the buttons?

2) Why is it okay to say that a Vacuum Cleaner sucks, but not to say that….you can fill in the blanks there….

3) If Time Machines are supposed to allow you to manipulate Time, why does it always seem that the traveler gets there too late?

4) If nuclear reactions smash atoms, what happens to the pieces left over?

5) In Star Trek, how come when Scotty’s working on the engines, you never see spare parts laying around? The man has the cleanest work area I’ve ever seen.

6) In movies, computers seem to be the easiest things to hack, yet when I mistype my Windows Password, my computer won’t let me in for squat?

7) Flying Cars: Never seen one without a Tornado present.

8) Debit Cards should be renamed Spend-It Cards. It just makes more sense.

9) Televisions used to be nicknamed Boob Tubes. Nuff said.

10) Far too many people say they need Space, yet none is ever an Astronaut.

I know I come off fairly serious with these articles and I hope this one shows that I’m more than the sum of my quips. Have a great day. 🙂

Crowdfunding as Technology

Crowdfunding projects appears to be a popular and upcoming thing these days. People are going to sites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and similar sites to raise money for everything from writing projects, social causes, and a plethora of other reasons.

I see this phenomena as a direct result of the growth of Technology and its impact on our lives. I have an Indiegogo campaign currently underway to gather starting funds to get my Parallax Series off the ground by funding a professional editor and cover designer. You can see my campaign at Parallax Series Editor and Cover Designer. However, this article is not about asking for contributions so please put your wallets away, Thanks.

I find this outgrowth of Technology fascinating because, for the first time, creative people can actually go online and raise funds directly from those who would consume them. I can’t recall any other time in recent history when there was such an outlet unless you count The Renaissance Period and God only knows what those people had to do to get a patron.

It’s a testament to human resilience when someone can take a system designed for information exchange and mold it into a platform to support creative endeavors. If I were a hat person, I would tip my hat with respect at such innovative spirit and versatility of mind. Bravo, Guys and Gals.

How I Use Technology in My Stories

Unless you’re living in the backwoods as part of some antisocial backwoods Chicken Little Cult, you have to admit that Technology is a dominant feature in all our lives. We use it to wake us up, get us to sleep, entertain, education, feed, and so many other ways that one could write a book….

Ahem, anyway, this particular article is about Technology’s place in Fiction and how I specifically use it in my stories. This is an opinion based article and while I may utilize facts to support my assertions, they in no way should be construed as the only way to think about it.

Technology is a broad range of machines and devices designed and built to perform particular tasks. They can be mechanical, analog, digital, virtual, etc, but they all share that common function to make our lives and jobs easier. Even a simple fork, knife, and spoon represents Technology to a degree. Let’s face it, eating soup with your fingers isn’t as enjoyable as with utensils. 😉

In Fiction, Technology serves a purpose in helping to define a story’s particular time and place. If you were writing a story setting during the Industrial Revolution, you could possibly include items like a steam engine, waterwheels, hand-cranked drills, weaving looms, and other such items. They provide that little pinch of salt that helps flavor your story. A more futuristic story could include digital computers, virtual reality, lasers (Industrial, Pew Pew, and other types), and other electronic systems.

I love Technology, but it’s not the end all be all of a story. I write SciFi/Adventure, usually set in the near to distant future and populated with all kinds of blinky beepy toys. However, I don’t make a big deal about their usage. After all, who makes a big deal about nuking a burrito in their microwave or logging on to the Internet in the 21st Century? Short answer, they don’t because we consider all of that part of our daily lives, much as a farmer in the 1800s wouldn’t make a big deal about hooking up a horse-drawn plow to go till their fields or a factory worker in the 1940s using their rivet guns.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I despise Technobabble. It serves no purpose other than to make the character saying it look smart and if done incorrectly or without restraint, will confuse the reader and ultimately turn them off. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying that I ACTIVELY try not to engage in that kind of wordplay. If you can’t explain it in simple terms, it’s probably best not to do it in the first place. However (and there’s always a However), if you have two characters that are engineers or scientists, it’s perfectly okay to have them use jargon that is particular to their occupations so long as you provide enough context that the reader can follow what the heck they are talking about.

Technology is tools and should be used like any other device in a story, to advance the plot or add insight to a character. Thanks for your time. 🙂

Announcement: #TechTalkFriday

It’s Tech Talk Friday and so, in keeping with yesterday’s motif, all posts from this point on discuss some aspect of technology, both fictional and real. I may even throw in a post or two concerning today’s technology. Enjoy. 🙂

Vessel: Far and Away

Finally, I’ll round out the Big Three with a discussion on Vessel and how it applies to the subject of Alternate Realities. Got your popcorn handy? Good. Here we go.

Vessel is unlike Corona and The Three Safeties in a number of important ways. Here are a few highlights:

1) Time Period: Vessel starts ten years after the start of the 22nd Century, placing it in the Year 2110.
2) Place: New Jacksonville, Florida, in an underground city constructed shortly after a devastating twin asteroid strike known as The Geminis.
3) Aliens: Yes, there are aliens. The Sristi are our first known alien contact in this reality and they want to help us in return for a supply of silicon. In other words, they want our sand, which we have in abundance and is just laying around doing nothing.

Vessel’s significance in an alternate reality context is obvious. We know no aliens in our reality, we haven’t been struck by any asteroids in recent history enough to cause any nuclear winters, and as far as I know, there are no underground city shelters.

The common divergence point between Vessel and our reality is when The Geminis strike Earth in 2100. Up to that point, which has not been explored yet, the two realities are identical with the same historical events and the same strengths and weaknesses.

Another major difference between Vessel’s Reality and our own would have to major changes in technology, social order, and political systems. Due to extreme circumstances, it could be assumed that the systems of government we use today were extensively overhauled to deal with governing a new world and new conditions. Remember that I am conjecturing since I haven’t revisited this world in a very long time.

Maybe I should, huh? 🙂