Hired Short Story From Fiverr

Gareth

I hired various freelancers for science fiction short stories. These stories are mostly backstories for various characters in my novella. To make my ~38000-word novella into a full-sized book, I am making an appendix in the book with hired short stories and science reports relevant to my novella. I plan to put the name of the actual author above each short story.

Below, I have included one of those stories. For this story, I asked sharonbae from fiverr.com to read my novella, choose a character she wanted to write about, and write a 2000-word short story about him/her. She chose Garth Knight, the main villain.

I read her story. It is Garth’s whole life story from a child to a doomed convicted criminal facing his second death sentence. I had it professionally edited for grammar, spelling, and clarity. One concern I had with her story is that it talked about specific and small USA dollar amounts, including cents. Nowadays, one US dollar is nothing, but the story takes place nearly 200 years into the future. I expect inflation would have made dollars even less valuable. So what should I do with her small sounding dollar amounts?

I didn’t want to alter the story because it was her story and I would be putting her name on it. Would she be offended if I changed her story?

I gave in to my temptation and added one paragraph to her story to explain away the dollar value. Maybe you can spot that paragraph below.

Meanwhile,  I have finished my writing and am waiting around for hired help to finish the last short stories, for editors on those short stories, book formatting, etc. I am still on schedule to publish in December.

I was born into a family of ranchers and farmers in Provo, Utah. My father and his brothers inherited the ranch and farms from their father, and they looked to me, my brother, and my cousins to learn the value of hard work and, in due time, inherit the farms and ranch. I grew up shuttling between southern Utah and farms in southern Idaho.

From the time I was a kid, I always sucked at milking cows and feeding pigs. I was always a hardworking lad but hated those tasks, so inheriting the farm gradually began to sound uninteresting to me. My brothers and my father would try to talk me into being more hardworking on the farm, but I’d rather go out to the woods with a good old man who usually came to the hood to fetch boys. We helped him break felled trees into pieces, and he paid us in cash. Although, he paid in cents, I preferred having some cash in my pocket. I can still remember the first day I earned a dollar. I went out before anyone and continued the previous day’s work, and by the time everyone came around, I had worked forty cents worth. At the end of the day, I had a dollar and ten cents, a smiling face, and an aching back. My smile that evening was the last genuine one, until many years later.

The money was in new America Federation dollars from the newly combined nations of most of North and South America and a small part of Africa. It was a combination meant to rival the Eurasia Federation.

That evening I got home to meet an almost empty house and sad faces here and there. My Dad, his two brothers, and my cousin Allan had been involved in an accident on their way to southern Idaho. All of them, except my Uncle Scott, were still battling for their lives. Uncle Scott gave up on the spot. He was on the wheels, and he lost control and rammed their car right under a trailer.

After two days in the hospital, my father died from severe head injuries; Allan regained consciousness, but his father stayed in a coma for another month before kicking the bucket. Suddenly, everything had changed. All three brothers left the scene within the space of one month, and we young boys were left at the helm of affairs. I was only thirteen years old, and my eldest cousin was sixteen. It was too much on us. And, as if to take the burden off of us, officials came around flashing court orders and confiscating most of our properties. The entire large family was left to bask in a small, ancient house. Poverty took a whole new turn.

In those days my self-esteem, sense of identity, and school grades took a deadly blow. I clearly remember feeling lost and totally insecure. I basked in my soliloquy: “Is hard work really a great option?” My Dad and his brothers were the most hardworking trio I’d ever met, but they all died and left their families miserable. My brothers talked about working for other farms—“work hard” to save money and, one day, get ourselves a farm of our own that no one would seize. I just knew I would never be a party to that because I didn’t see it as a way out of this vicious circle of poverty.

As I sat alone one of those sad days, contemplating my next move, a stern-looking man walked in. He was a neighbor who sometimes visited my dad and his brothers. They usually spoke in a low tone and laughed loudly as they sipped little volumes of rum. He looked me in the eyes and said: “Real men don’t cry. Are you a real man? Don’t cry! Grow up!” Those words stuck in my head, especially the question, “Are you a real man?” I wiped my eyes and decided to “grow up.” Albeit in the wrong way. I stole the same neighbor’s car and attempted to drive to Salt Lake City. Far enough for me to breathe in fresh air and grow up. I set out in the middle of the night with Josh, my closest buddy at the time. I still miss that dude. We had ridden barely one hundred miles when we got caught and bundled back home. Back to the place where I felt I didn’t belong.

Eighteen months later, I left home. This time I didn’t leave in a stolen car or in the thick of the night. I left home in broad daylight, with my mother’s knowledge, my belongings, and fifty-five dollars in savings. My major aim was to get rich and liberate my family from poverty. I also craved influence, as it seemed the high and mighty in the society were untouchables.

Over the next few years, I landed myself in college while working several odd jobs: from construction to a menial job at the local skating rink. I also worked with a waste disposal company to make ends meet, and in those days, I felt like my body always smelled of garbage. While working at the construction site, my boss easily picked me out as the most hardworking guy on the crew and always called me out whenever he had a contract anywhere. Soon, I stopped working other menial jobs and concentrated fully on construction and schooling. It took an extra bit of motivation to not get overwhelmed with handling both tasks.

In due time, I had bagged a bachelor’s degree in criminology, finishing somewhere above the mid-point of my class. Fernando, the class topper, once said I would have been his major contender if I’d had the luxury to concentrate more on schoolwork. You might say Garth Knight is arrogant, but I think not only would I have been his contender, I’d have beaten him. It doesn’t matter now.

The college certificate was definitely a stepping-stone, as I ascended high above it. My construction contacts actually paved the way for me. Shortly before graduation, I was working hard as usual to settle some final bills when a top official came around. I guessed he was the owner of the facility, so I greeted him with a smile and continued my work. Soon I was called aside. He said he perceived me as a “sharp guy,” and my boss also recommended me. He had a few tasks for me, which I handled intelligently. I leaked classified information from my school’s database, and he was pleased. Hey, don’t roll your eyes on me; I was broke, and the pay was great.

After a successful execution of my trial mission, my new boss had some faith in me. My degree in criminology, alongside my intuition, was a huge boost, or so he thought. I was inducted into a league of ruthless spies, which was funded by a sect from the Earth’s Global Federation. We were availed some of the most sophisticated gadgets in the world, at the time. I started at small jobs within the league, and my success rate allowed me to rise in the pecking order. In no time, I was completing missions in several nations that were yet to be members of the Earth’s Global Federation. It became fascinating. I was raking in hard cash, and my family valued me as a top government official, so there was no going back this time. Once you taste real money, you can only crave more.

A master of disguise, I played several roles at a time and got access to information that I wouldn’t usually have access to. One time, I got caught in Russia; their only mistake was to arrest me like a gentleman. Two guards armed with nothing but Tasers sat by my side, and the driver had a pistol at his waist. I made for the driver’s gun, and my Taser deflector made their shocks ineffective. It was the first time I had pulled the trigger on someone, but I shot at their limbs, and learned later that they didn’t die. I heaved a sigh of relief.

Before long, however, accessing and disseminating information led to kidnapping and, subsequently, killing. Then I knew I was officially a bad man. I hadn’t planned to be a killer, but sometimes the mission read: “Make him disappear.” How else could I have done that? Kidnap him forever? I had to do what had to be done to keep business going. Soon I became ruthless in the art and act of pulling the trigger and bursting skulls open. The prick that I felt in my heart whenever I pulled the trigger grew fainter and fainter, until I could no longer feel it.

Renowned for ruthlessness, I was enjoying myself; my wealth and influence grew exponentially. That fateful day, when everything started sliding downhill, the mission was to torture a guy and extract information, but I did more than that. The information indicated that I was on the radar and might soon go down. I thought killing the guy would eliminate the issue, but things escalated. He was a defense minister and kidnapping him was insult enough, but his death? Forces rose against us, and I had to be sacrificed to calm things down.

My death was faked, and I was buried six feet below for twelve hours. Some political leaders had a caucus meeting and decided that I would be useful on Sonik. Some felt my intuitiveness and intelligence might help Earth and Sonik build a healthy relationship, while others worried that my ruthlessness would result in a bad image of “Earthlings” on Sonik. My faction had their way, and I was dug up, given a stern warning to be diplomatic, and then smuggled up to Sonik. Naturally, I would have opted to stay on Earth, but if it was discovered that my death had been faked, it might result in cataclysmic pandemonium. It was necessary that I should leave Earth or die. I chose the former.

I arrived on Sonik about fourteen Earth years later. Spaceships are now a little faster, and the journey can be made in thirteen years. There was total freedom for me. The influence I had craved since I was a boy—I had it in excess there. I was the number one human on Sonik and, arguably, the number one creature, because humans rank above the Sonik natives. Occasionally, I missed home during my early years on Sonik, but I soon savored being the much loved and much feared Garth Knight.

Everything was going really great until the day an Earth spaceship landed on Sonik. I smelled trouble when I first heard the name: Robert Vasquez. His mission, furthermore, didn’t appeal to my fancy. I enjoyed riding on the relative ignorance of the Sonik natives, and he intended to spread some education. I was determined to stand in his way with everything I had, but Robert’s determination coupled with wittiness was one of a kind. He constantly outwitted me on all fronts, I have to sadly admit. His activities resulted in my apparent downfall on Sonik. His enlightenment programs spurred a revolution, and he brought on board a fairy genius—Diamond-san—who had profound Earth knowledge. Diamond-san was the individual who wrote a perfectly articulated letter and sent it down to Earth; that brought about my replacement and deportment.

A new Earthling leader for Sonik was sent with some military personnel. I was taken unaware and bundled back to earth. It felt like the day Josh and I were caught, while on our way to Salt Lake City, and taken back home. I had settled in to feeling like a Sonik native, and Earth felt like a strange land.

Here I am on Earth, forty Earth years after I first left for Sonik. I have not been availed the opportunity to visit our old farm in Utah. I don’t know how my brothers have fared with their dreams of “working hard.” Maybe they successfully got themselves a farm, or maybe not. I doubt if my mother would still be alive—it wouldn’t matter much though; they all think I’m long gone. For now, I’m in custody, and all who were involved in my exit are being tracked down by the current government. Maybe this is the end of Garth Knight.

Continue reading

My Editor’s Reaction to My Book

Space

I was excited (as always) to receive the results from my editor, and I want to share my editor’s general comments about my book. This editor is from Scribendi.com. Editors from Scribendi.com are always anonymous (editor number 1479 in this case) so I don’t know if it is a he or a she. Here are his/her general comments:

Hi, and thank you for the opportunity to edit your book. Before I go into detail about this edit (and how much I enjoyed reading your novel!), I’d like to apologize for the lateness of its return. I was not the original editor on the project and saw it pop up on our work interface as a nearly-overdue manuscript, so I assume the original editor had some sort of emergency, but I don’t know the circumstances. As a novelist myself, though, I’m very familiar with the frustration of waiting for feedback and the desire not to lose momentum at this stage, so I prioritized your project and set a goal to return it to you well before the new deadline.

All that being said, what a thoroughly fun manuscript this was–skillfully written, already quite well-edited, and with such an enjoyable plot and so many laugh-out-loud lines that it felt as much like a book I’d recommend to friends as a project I needed to help polish. I should assure you, though, that you were wise to submit it for editing–as the “All Markup” option will show (under the Review tab, and then the Tracking section), I made many corrections for missing words, mistyped words (such as “and” when you meant “an” and such), some punctuation issues (missing quotation marks or periods, occasional misuse of semicolons, etc.), and other errors that can be distracting to the reader and lead to grouchy online reviews if they are not caught and corrected in time. You will find that most of my comments in the margin are praise for great lines and clever plot twists. However, my edit was careful and thorough, with three full passes to catch any sneaky little issues. A couple of bigger-picture suggestions:

1) Though your protagonist’s voice was exceedingly well-done and your POV usage perfect (something I rarely see in this job, to be completely honest), there were a couple of important moments where I felt like Robert’s naivete was too great to be fully credible. Specifically, when he completely disregards the advice on the train not to let the fairy touch him under any circumstances–he’s putting his head against the “birdcage” bars to take a selfie, then getting in close with the fairy and falling asleep–it doesn’t feel properly set up that he’s been given enough reason to trust the fairy and disregard the advice. On my second read it was especially clear to me what a wonderful and even delightful job you did constructing the dialogue and plot progression such that the “hosting Diamond-san” bit unfolded perfectly. It’s the initial setup that I felt could use a bit more credibility, and I don’t think this would be difficult to do at all–I think we just need to see a bit more (and I do mean “a bit”–like, one or two reasons) of Robert’s thought process as to why he doesn’t trust the advice to begin with or why he trusts the fairy so readily.

Similarly, his lack of concern about his growing “tumor” seems a little unusual. Especially in light of the fact that he was warned not to let the fairy touch him, and then she did, and he proceeds to have this increasingly large growth that is visible to everyone, it seems like the average person would be alarmed, worry about disease or infection, or reflect that maybe the fairy lied to them, etc. It makes *complete* sense that he thinks he might have caught a mental illness from the lunatics and that he doesn’t draw a connection between the onset of that and the growth of the “tumor,” and that’s a fun and clever aspect of the plot, but it doesn’t quite add up that he seems so unconcerned about the growth. It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult for him to come up with an alternate theory for it (wondering if it’s an allergic reaction to the fairy’s claws, or thinking it’s an infection but it doesn’t hurt or seems under control) that would allow him to credibly shrug it off.

2) This is more minor, but the matter-of-fact chapter titles could use a bit of brightening up or rephrasing for more intrigue. They don’t seem to quite match the lighthearted yet snappily-paced tone of the rest of the book.

Overall, however, this story is so imaginative and vivid, immersing the reader in a world that feels quirky, credible, and consistently fun. I find it especially commendable that you managed to do this around a plot of selling electronic tablets, which, on paper, seems like it would be difficult to make exciting. Yet through a great main-character voice, quick pacing, and a normal-ish yet odd and funny sci-fi world, you not only pull it off but hit it out of the park. Even the non-human side characters feel three-dimensional and unique, which is quite an achievement in 36,000 words. I know it may seem like I’m going hard here with the praise, but I read a lot of fiction as an editor and also in my other jobs (I evaluate self-published books for an industry review publication and I also serve as a judge for some of the big fiction writing contests), and when an author is really getting it right, I feel like they deserve to be told that.

You asked in your client notes that the editor ignore font and formatting issues. I ignored the issues with the margins, but I did change the entire doc to 11-point Arial (I did not have the two fonts you were using loaded into my Word software, so I chose another common sans-serif font) for consistency. This was mainly because it was distracting as I edited–“Ambivalence” (but not the “-tar”), in one section, was a different size than the rest of the words in the sentences–and I didn’t want to miss any legitimate editing issues due to my attention focusing on that. You can easily change the font or size, of course, with the “select all” feature.

At Scribendi we always recommend returning for a final proofread, as this is the best way to ensure that no new errors have crept in during the revision process. If you wish to request me for a future order, you can do this during the order process after uploading your document. There is a text box at the bottom of the order page that says “Editor Code (Optional).” Just type my editor code, 1479, in this space. When you place your order, the system will automatically send your request to me. Thanks again, and I wish you the very best with this book.

I have addressed the issues he/she pointed out (except the tumor, which I have a good idea on how to address that). Throughout the manuscript, I reviewed the grammar corrections and the suggestions and accepted nearly all of them. I really appreciated the good work and the encouragement he/she gave me.

The price tag (for editing my entire 36800+ word “novel”) was $1,149.66. I thought it was worth it, but not everyone has access to that much spare money.

I Hired a Map Maker

Sonik Republic Dvd

I hired an editor to critique my science fiction manuscript. In his report, he suggested I have a map made since it was challenging to keep track of all the locations. I like maps, so that suggestion excited me.

At Fiverr.com I found quite a few fantasy map makers. I chose exoniensis. I wrote up a list of locations with a brief description for him, he created this image. The price was US$68 (with a modest tip) and I got this color version, a black and white version, and various other versions. I am very happy with it.

The town called ‘Landing’ is the location of the one and only human settlement where the humans first landed on the planet. In the story, Robert travels to every city to sell his educational materials to the planet’s natives at the colleges. However, in six of the cities, Robert’s adventures are not detailed and are only mentioned in passing. The pink Wilderness of No Return presents most of the adventure and suspense.

After the editor’s critique, I made several changes to the story and sent it back for manuscript editing. I expect the results on Tuesday.

After that, I plan to hire people to create short stories and science essays for the book’s appendix. With past books I have written, I enjoyed having the backstories of various of my minor characters in the book in the appendix. I already hired one person to write a story about the ancient ancestors of the natives as hinted about at The National Archives on the map.

This time, seeing how I tried to keep the story scientifically plausible, I want to hire someone to write a science essay on the future of space travel. Specifically, I want it to include how plausible or not so plausible various aspects of my story is as far as how space travel is portrayed in it.

Thanks for reading.

Felipe Lira

For the science fiction I am currently writing, Felipe Lira has been providing the illustrations. He has created eleven illustrations so far, and I believe he has agreed to five more.

Crystal-san

Fairy

Gareth

Earth’s Ambassador to Planet Sonik

I had recruited Felipe from twine to come up with a picture for the front cover of the book. After that, I had expanded the story quite a bit. I hired him to create more illustrations for the book interior.

ProcyonB

Book Cover Illustration

To see more of Felipe’s work (beyond stuff he created for me) click here.

I have completed several drafts of the story by now. Saturday I sent the latest draft to the editor for content editing. He will write a review or critique of the story, plot, characters and the writing in general. After I react to that, it will be ready for the lower level editing.

I also expect to hire people to write short stories for the appendix. In my past books, I enjoyed hiring people to create a short story of a minor character’s backstory, or of some related incident of their choosing and published those stories in the appendix of the book (giving them credit for their stories).  I will probably post the job on freelancer.com this month and hire the most promising bids.

 

I Started a Contest

I was having trouble deciding how a particular chapter in my book should go. I knew what the purpose of the chapter was. In general, I needed to get a group of people (including the protagonist) from place A to place B.

One idea is to keep the scene at place A that I already have, and the scene at place B, like I already have, and skip the travel scene.

But, I really wanted to show that the wilderness they traveled through was treacherous and had bandits. It was information that helps the plot. I could just have the people in scene B talk about how treacherous it was and that there were bandits. But many books on writing say you should show information, not tell it.

So I started a contest at Freelancer.com. Here is the link: https://www.freelancer.com/contest/Science-Fiction-Idea-for-Chapter-1547242

The prize is $100. The job is to give a synopsis of how the chapter could go, and a sample excerpt or paragraph for the chapter. I get to use the winner’s idea when I write my chapter and the winner get $100.

So far I have one entry and 7 notices that people are preparing their entry and to please be patient. The contest has seven more days and I expect to let the contest go to full length. The one entry is good and I could be happy with that, but I want to see what others propose. Maybe some of them will be even better.

I suppose that eventually, I could have come up with some idea myself, but a contest is so much fun and it the past contests have produced good results for me.

Meanwhile, the finished first draft is not done yet but is in sight. And after it is done, I will need to go through the whole thing again to get it all coordinated since I changed some elements and details in the course of writing and the beginning of the draft needs to not contradict the end.

 

One Quarter Done

This is an update to my last post. I am rewriting a short story that lost in a science fiction contest. Above is another illustration I hired someone to make for the story.

I am an estimated one quarter done with the first draft of my longer version of my short story that I am excited about. At 8,272 words for the first fourth, it is still going to be a shorter than a novel, but probably three times as long as it was before.

I usually plan my stories in quarters, where in the first quarter I introduce the setting, the situation, the protagonist, and some of the other important characters and try to build up interest. It ends at a decision point or event that sets the story in a new, riskier direction. Hopefully that is accomplished in this new first quarter of the story or will be in later adjustments.

Calling this ‘One Quarter Done‘ is deceptive because even for people who preplan before they write, the first draft is not the last draft. I had a busy couple of weeks with relatives visiting, my real job, and other interruptions. And next week I will be helping at a week long boy scout camp in a wilderness where the internet is not available. But after that I should be able to make good progress.

I want to share the first part of the story here which is currently the first scene of chapter 1. This may become the prologue or the whole chapter 1. This scene was not in the original short story.

Originally I started the story on the alien planet with Robert newly arrived. That seemed to beg much explaining and exposition. To exaggerate how bad it was, it went something like this:

I looked out my window from my hotel suite in the human spaceport on the planet Sonik and saw all that alien landscape… etc. etc. I had arrived yesterday from Earth … took 13 years to travel here …. woke up from hibernation … in the Procyon star system … outer space, outer space, outer space, etc. Oh yeah, and now I am here.

So I made this new scene where Robert can experience his arrival in a spaceship at the same time the reader is reading about it. This is intended to make the information more a part of the story than being just information. This is my official first draft of the new first scene:

The blurry face resolved to that of the hibernation technician, Uzoma, who had been trying to put me into an induced hibernation for the last fifteen minutes.

“I’m still conscious,” I complained.

“Incorrect wording,” said Uzoma. “You are conscious again.”

I felt cold, foggy headed and miserable still. The intravenous tubes and other cables were still attached to me, but the fluid in the tank I was submersed in was at a lower level. My face was above the fluid and I was  breathing air. Did that mean I would have to acclimate to breathing liquid all over again?

How much torture did I have to go through before I could be launched into space, escape Earth, and be on my way to the star Procyon A, my first interstellar trip. I decided to be patient a little while longer. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.

“Your blood will be warmed to a normal temperature in six minutes.” Uzoma said. I can then disconnect you and you will be free to go.”

That was alarming. “You mean the flight is canceled? What’s wrong.”

Uzoma rolled her eyes and smiled. “You’re here. On Sonik.”

I was on the planet Sonik? Already? The gravity did feel a little heavier, I think. It was hard to tell. “What’s the date?” I asked.

Uzoma looked at a display panel. “UTC Earth time is 2:52pm, August eight, 2198. Local native time is the second hour of the afternoon, the 9th day of the 7th week of the 17th month, of the 2806th year since people were created.”

That meant I was unconscious for about thirteen years by Earth time. Space ships that traveled at near-light speeds made travel to Procyon possible, but not quite practical. My girlfriend on Earth, Fiona, would be thirty four years old now. My age would be complicated considering near light speed time dilation. And according to medical theory with the stasis of artificial hibernation, I had only aged about one month during the trip. I wasn’t feeling particularly young at the moment.

After a long wait, I had the strength to sit up, and Uzoma helped me out of the tank to a chair. She dried me off and helped me put on underpants and a gown.

“Robert, you’ll continue to feel foggy and weak for the remainder of the day,” Uzoma said. “Your hotel room is ready, your suitcase is already there, and your cargo trunks are in the luggage office by the settlement foyer. After a night’s sleep you should feel fine. Are you ready to be wheeled to your suite?”

I nodded, eager to lay down wherever there was peace and quiet.

There you have it. If you have never seen a first draft before, here is one. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I don’t guarantee that I will obey them all, but I do want to read your insight.

Detangling Quantum Entanglement

Note: Quantum Entanglement transceivers are used as fictional communication devices in each of my books that allow my characters to communicate over vast interstellar distances instantly. Julie Schoen (from fiverr.com) did some research for me and published her result here. I am also publishing it on my blog.

Detangling Quantum Entanglement: Can You Really Communicate at the Speed of Light?

Although people might like to believe that aliens and extraterrestrials are only relegated to the pages of science fiction books or the screens in our movie theaters, for centuries there have been people who firmly believe otherwise. From astronauts who have walked on our moon to, more recently, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, there have always been those on “the fringe” who not only believed in ET life, but felt like they had evidence to prove it.

The famous crash in Roswell, New Mexico thought to be one of the events that did such that, offering the proof of a ship and a body, although many still argue its validity.

In one of Musk’s recent interviews, he not only shared that he believes extraterrestrial super aliens a feasible possibility, he went on to say that, if they exist, they   existed, but that “they’re probably already observing us… and we’re just not smart enough to realize it.”

How’s that for a kick to your human ego?

A long time ago, my middle school Language Arts teacher asked my class to read Ender’s Game. Not my typical cup of tea, considering Jane Austen was, and still is, the be-all-end-all author in my book, I found myself fascinated by the world Orson Scott Card created.

But, being the daughter of an engineer who constantly questioned and destroyed every possibility of Star Wars being possible, I found myself skeptic – and I went back to Emma and her matchmaking (which, if you’re an Orson Scott Card or sci-fi fan probably means very little to you).

And then I moved to Boulder and found myself immersed in a company that not only wholeheartedly believes in intelligent life on other planets, many of the people they work with believe that they are contacting people here on this planet, perhaps even right here among us.

Yes, I live in New Mexico. No, I’ve never felt like I have seen something inexplicable streak across the night sky.

However, I was interested to see what the possibility of all of this really could be. Now, I’m far from being an expert but I have some incredibly smart people in my life that let me pick their brains, especially about communication with extraterrestrials: is it actually possible to talk with life on other planets in real time? Or, at least, without having to wait hundreds of years for a text message to finally arrive in your inbox?

During this picking I was pointed to fiction books that have some plausible ideas about communication with other planets, the idea of quantum entanglement, and, less helpful, Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

I found myself tangled in quantum entanglement, which apparently is no surprise to anyone familiar with the concept. In a nutshell, quantum entanglement is a phenomenon that joins particles in their quantum state so that they are no longer separate – everything becomes one whole no matter how far apart they are. Albert Einstein is one of the scientists to write about this phenomenon, something non-scientist folk can understand as “spooky action at a distance”.

To break this down in an easier to understand way, quantum entanglement posits that if a particle were spun on one side of the world and it was entangled with another, the spinning of that first particle would cause the second to spin as well and in the same direction.

Yep, spooky.

Some physicists believe that quantum entanglement is the answer to extraterrestrial communication, although it hasn’t been proven yet that information can actually be carried and passed through this phenomenon. There is an interesting book that was written about quantum entanglement being a possible scientific explanation for ESP and psychic readings, although, of course, everything in this realm of science is always up for debate.

(Haven’t Sheldon and Leonard taught you anything?)

So the big question is if you can find a way to send information with entangled particles as doing so would allow for speed of light (or faster) communication that could put us in cahoots with super smart aliens on Planet X (or was it Y?)

While the decision is still out with the jury, many physicists say that you can’t simply because trying to alter the state of an entangled particle breaks the entanglement. And then, there are the ones that argue there’s a way around it – they just haven’t figured it out exactly yet.

But, where there’s a will, there’s usually a way.

And if quantum entanglement isn’t the answer, is there somewhere else to look?

Perhaps interstellar beacons can be used to create some sort of informative light show, like an EDM festival crossed with Dan Rather.

Others believe that learning to understand dolphins may hold the key to unlocking extraterrestrial communication. In fact, researchers in Hawaii are currently practicing communicating with animals, like dolphins, in order to prepare for contact. Researchers involved with this project say that when they’re asked if they believe “we’re alone”, they answer, “No, we’re not alone. There are many animals communicating right here that we don’t understand.”

Point taken.

And this is where my dizzying exploration into the detangling of quantum entanglement came to a screeching halt. Can you learn to communicate at the speed of light? My guess, contrary to Elon Musk’s belief in our lack of intelligence, is that of course we can – it’s just a matter of time. But, until an alien comes up to me on the street to try to ask for directions, I’m going to focus on honing my communication skills for the intelligent beings on this planet.

Flipper, will you be my friend?

My Illustrator’s Daughter Gets Involved

My latest book ‘Claymore’ has been on Amzon.com for a few weeks in all three formats now (ebook, black & white paperback, and color paperback). Besides my day job as an engineer, I have been a bit lazy since then, playing games and watching shows on Netflix. Soon I will need to start my next project in earnest.

Meanwhile I have had some exposure and sales for the new book, especially with friends and relatives. My illustrator bought an expensive version of the book (the version with color interior illustrations) for her daughter. As you can see in the attached picture, she is really happy to have my story in her hands. (Okay, she is happy to have the illustrations in her hands.) I appreciate her positive response.

TizianaDaughter

I am indecisive about my next project. I have two more books planned and outlined for the Tomek series that I want to complete, but I also want to do a ‘hard science fantasy’ story that I have in my head.

I’ve never heard that term (hard science fantasy) before and I may have made it up. The general concept is a world similar to the one Tolkien created (not too similar, but with magic, magical beasts, and wizards). Earthling astronauts land there and try to make sense of it. I have specific ideas in mind (about the science behind the magic and about plots and characters) but haven’t outlined them in any document yet. I would want the plots and characters to dominate and not have it all about the science. It would be, at some stage, a battle of science against magic where science is losing. Later as they ally with the good guys they learn to meld the two technologies together.

I am sure something like that has been done before somewhere, but I want to do my idea with it.

Writing Obstacles into the Story

For my latest manuscript the editing is done and all the interior illustrations. This illustration featured today is for chapter thirty-one. This chapter has Claymore finding exactly where prisoners are being kept.

When I wrote my first book, my editor complained that I had my character solve problems almost instantly. I learned challenging obstacles are important in a story, something everyone seems to know, but I didn’t back then. Obstacles that are quickly overcome are not really obstacles.

Now I am on my third book, and in this particular case, the character Claymore has spent over half the book trying to find where the prisoners of the evil covert organization are. Here he finally gets a peek into the bad guy’s surveillance room and recognizes video feed of one of the prisoners. Now he can switch to planning the rescues.

I am still an amateur writer, but here I have the produced the most serious struggles for the protagonist. I just wonder if I went too far. Nah. It was a struggle for me personally though. I have a tendency to want my character to be masterful or expert. And I still do that to a degree by making the opposition stronger.

I try to have the character to be strong in some things, but also have some significant flaws that cause him or her problems. In Claymore’s case as an example, he is a bit snobby and overconfident. He is a wealthy and clever lawyer. That is one of his weaknesses that make his problems worse. At a point before this illustration, he is living homeless and broke. While he never gets his wealth back, he does become successful again and makes a difference in the lives of the victims.

Chapter 31 final

When the Writing is Finished

I’m excited to be finished writing and editing my science fiction novel titled ‘Claymore’. I have both of the appendix short stories completed by my guest authors, Siriano Lambert and Gavin Parish. I am waiting for the last one of the ten illustrations then I can send all the interior to createspace.com for them to format into the 6″ x 9″ page size. I will then put my illustrator to work on the cover. In the meantime I can take a break and do something with my spare time other than write.

Siriano

My guest authors each wrote a short story about a different minor character. Siriano chose the minor character Jak, a police officer caught selling confidential police information to an alleged journalist. Siriano is my nephew, and as far as I know, this will be his first work published in a book. He does have writing samples available on different web sites. Here the first paragraph of his short story for Claymore:

Rain tapped softly on the hood of the air car. Jak sat motionless in the driver’s seat, eyes glued to the dash-screen video feed. It had taken so long to get approval for this stakeout that he was afraid the suspect would have moved on before he could get the cam-bot installed. Of course, he’d had to pay for the cam-bot out of his own pocket. That had been difficult to get Melysa to understand, but in the end they had agreed the risk would be worth it.

I was excited to involve Siriano and he came through with a nice story that I feel will enhance my book. Siriano focuses successfully on emotions and relationships. There is action here also. After reading Siriano’s story about Jak and his family, you understand why Jak felt justified in his later actions, even though Claymore wasn’t sympathetic.

Gavin

I had hired Gavin Parish in the past with my novel ‘Baktu’ and enjoyed his results. He chose the minor character ‘Lucy’, a person of a race known for their intellect but physically comparable to cephalopods (octopuses). He went the extra mile and read my other novels for more background information. Here is his first paragraph:

Lucy was in deep water, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. The plajoni home world was mostly ocean, but here on Regalia she had grown accustomed to spending much of her time on dry ground of late. Even so, it felt good to get her tentacles properly wet once in a while, though the level of toxicity in the water was an ever-present concern. Strict antipollution laws had long been in place across the planet, but busy traffic around a major spaceport posed a heightened risk she would be foolish to ignore. Nevertheless, she would only use the breathing filter Scod had given her as a last resort. It went against her instincts to swim with any kind of aid, and she had not liked the fit and feel of the thing when she tried it on for a test run before setting out.

He made blatant and subtle references to several other characters in the Claymore novel and my other novels (in the same universe), including the Baskin Shipping Yards, Death Ray, and others. At the end the amnesia that he gave Lucy subtly explains how she ended up a homeless tramp when she first appears in the main novel. It’s Interesting story of suspense and action.

Tiziana

The featured picture this week is the one Tiziana made for chapter 29. Here Claymore is poses as a customer in a hanger for spaceships. He is actually spying on the bad guy’s ships. Claymore ends up leasing a spot even though he has no space ship. The picture shows the environment, the open ceiling, and the general busyness of the place.

Chapter29final