Tag Archives: robots

SHORT FRICTIONS, Coming Up Shortly!

A robot I met some time ago, on the Upper East Side. Not in any of my stories. But doesn't he look dapper?

A robot I met some time ago, on the Upper East Side. Not in any of my stories. But doesn’t he look dapper?

For the last month or so, I’ve been receiving helpful comments from wonderful people who’ve taken time out of their lives to prepare for advance reviewing of SHORT FRICTIONS - my upcoming collection of short stories. Their assistance has been invaluable, and the book you’ll eventually read has already been made leagues better thanks to their thoughts and comments.

So when do you get to check out this fabulous new collection of stories about vampires, robots, evil corporations and more?

One thing’s for sure: it won’t be long, now!

I’ve met with the designer – the stylish Sarah Hartley (who was responsible for the gorgeous cover of HOT MESS) and she’s working on some frankly brilliant ideas for the SHORT FRICTIONS cover. I hope you’ll like it. I know I love what she’s thought up so far.

I really can’t wait to share this collection of shorts – and a play! – with all of you. Most have been written in the last few years, with one outlier that dates back to my college days. Some, you may have seen in other places in the past. Others are fresh and new and clean and excited to be allowed out into the world.

The e-version will likely debut in August on several platforms, shortly ahead of the print one, and don’t worry – I’ll keep you updated. Just enter your info into the subscription widget – upper right hand side of this blog entry to make sure you don’t miss the new release. Or give me your email address (I’ll never sell or share it), below:

 

Congratulations to the Short Frictions Giveaway Winner!

2014-04-07 11For the last month or so, I’ve been running a giveaway for a gift code from ThinkGeek.com…and now it’s time to announce the winner!

Congratulations to Patricia Salyers!

It was cool to watch how every day, Patricia was on Twitter, tweeting the promotional tweet to get additional entries for the competition – and clearly the work paid off! I’ve contacted her privately to arrange for her to get her ThinkGeek code, and send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who took the time to enter.

If you didn’t win, but still want something free (and who doesn’t want free stuff) then remember, I’m also looking for advance reviewers for Short Frictions, and am rewarding those who step up with both a free e-copy of the book in the format of their choice and a thank-you on the book’s acknowledgements page.

Having lots of reviews is one of those things that helps us indie writers sell books, so not only will you get free stuff if you sign up – you’ll also be doing me a solid.

Advance Copies, coming up!

Woooo! Just got the manuscript for Short Frictions back from my editor, with some great notes. Now that I’m working through those, it’s also time to prep for a new stage in my new self-publishing checklist: advance reviewers.

Image from phys.org (http://phys.org/news/2014-01-google-machines-robotics-companies-involved.html).

Image from phys.org (http://phys.org/news/2014-01-google-machines-robotics-companies-involved.html).

About a month ago, I took a webinar from Writer.ly  that suggested ways of getting the word out about your self-published book. One of the ideas I loved was setting up a list of readers who would comment on the book before its publication, then leave reviews on release day!

Adding a new step to a self-publishing strategy is tricky, but one of the points @Kelsye (who gave the webinar) made that really stuck with me was that reaching as many advance reviewers as possible is important because of how it helps generate word of mouth, and gives people an incentive to read and review your work. While I’ve heard of some writers (specifically, Guy Kawasaki) crowdsourcing feedback, I’ve never tried this strategy myself – it’s a little nervewracking, but I think it will be worth it!

If you still want to sign up to be an advance reader and reviewer, there’s still time to get me your info! You’ll receive a thank-you in the final edition of the book, as well as a free e-copy. Interested? Click here for more information.

Win a $15 Gift Code to ThinkGeek.com!

2014-04-07 11Since Short Frictions, my upcoming short story collection, includes a number of science fiction stories, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a geeky gift code giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThinkGeek.com is full of fun, nerdy collectibles. T-shirts, toys, robotic knick-knacks and more. Whatever your geeky obsession, from TV shows like Star TrekDoctor WhoGame of Thrones or Breaking Bad to tech-themed house or office gadgetry and beyond, ThinkGeek.com has loads of fun distractions.

From today through June 29th 2014, you can enter the contest by participating in this Rafflecopter giveaway.

Using the above Rafflecopter entry form, join my mailing list, then earn extra “credits” towards winning by sharing this giveaway on Facebook and Twitter – which you can do every day. If you’re already on the mailing list, go ahead and enter your address again – you’ll still only get one copy of each email, and that way your entry will still count towards the giveaway!

List members receive special previews and announcements of upcoming productions and publications, and as always, I promise not to share or sell your email address.

The giveaway results will be announced on June 30th – will you be the winner?

In addition to the giveaway, I’m also currently seeking beta readers/advance reviewers for SHORT FRICTIONS. If you’re interested in an advance copy, writing a review and being thanked in the digital copy’s acknowledgements, please click here to find out more!

Please Verify Your Humanity

2013-01-20 13.41.42We’ve all seen them – verification captchas that ask you to type a handful of letters and numbers – usually quite difficult to read – in order to create an account or access information. “Prove you’re human.” Lately, the wording of these has started to get to me.

Maybe it’s because I spend so much time with my head in science fiction, but “Prove You’re Human” seems like a great way to piss off either an artificial intelligence singularity or an alien species that comes into contact with our internet. Or, maybe they wouldn’t want to access our stupid information anyways.

Today I registered for STEAM in order to get a copy of ACTUAL SUNLIGHT, an incredible and insightful game that deals with themes of depression and suicide (the original demo version was amazing, if intense), and was prompted by a new wording of the usual question: “Please Verify Your Humanity.”

While my quibble with the usual wording of this question might be pretty out there (and yes, I admit that they’re pretty out there), “Prove Your Humanity” makes me cringe. Why? Because there are plenty of humans capable of answering the question whose “humanity” I would call into question. (Example: the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and subsequent “forced marriage” – i.e. sex trafficking – of over 200 young women in Nigeria on April 15th – they could probably answer the question, but I seriously doubt their “humanity,” per se.)

Google defines “Humanity” as:

hu·man·i·ty
(h)yo͞oˈmanitē/
noun
  1. 1.
    the human race; human beings collectively.
    “appalling crimes against humanity”
    synonyms: humankindmankindmanpeople, human beings, humans, the human race, mortals; More

  2. 2.
    humaneness; benevolence.
    “he praised them for their standards of humanity, care, and dignity”

 

 

But plenty of people guilty of crimes against humanity are still capable of typing a few letters and numbers, and all that says is that they can read and recognize letters – not that they treat others with humaneness or benevolence, and certainly not that they’re collectively human beings or “the entire human race”.

While I doubt this phrasing (or the original phrasing) bothers anybody but me, I thought it was interesting that in this case, not only is “humanity” being held up as the standard one should meet in order to participate in Steam’s community, but also that the test they give is no measure of humanity at all.

Thanks for indulging this minor digression into semantics. I appreciate your patience with my editing brain, and leave you with this video of humans kicking Big Dog, videotaping it, and putting it on the internet for our future robot overlords to see. Robot mistreatment starts around :40s.

SciFi Flash Fiction: A Step Ahead

“It’s okay,” they kept saying when oil stores got low. “Science stays a step ahead.” They said it when the gush slowed to a slow-bleeding trickle, out of the scars of the ground.

They said it again in the wake of the twenty-teens extinctions. “Biological diversity? Eh, it’s fine. We’ve got DNA samples in the lab. We’re all good.” Even the species that hadn’t been sampled. “We can extrapolate. Science stays a step ahead.”

When the water dried up and there was nothing to drink, there were tiny nuclear-powered pumps sucking liquid from the air Science stayed a step ahead.

When the environment was pushed to its limits and the human die-offs occurred, late  in the mid-2020s, a void was presented. Plagues had decimated populations before; as before, food supplies and resources were at a premium. Automated service units were built for those who remained.

Finally, even those humans who remained could not extract enough from around them to continue, and they imprinted themselves into the  those automated units, and the planet whirred and clicked along like a gear through the heavens.

Science stayed a step ahead.

***

Years ago, my dad and I talked about how the human population planet was using up fossil fuels.  I was worried about a school lecture or something I’d seen on the news, and in addition to a joke about how an uncle of his used to say “if the combustion engine hadn’t been invented, we’d all be knee-deep in horse shit!”, he told me about a new technology that was being explored, which allowed gas companies to take advantage of new processes and extract new reserves of fossil fuels through the use of pressure and chemicals. Over the years, it’s become clear that he was talking about hydraulic fracturing – fracking.

That conversation is what I think about when I think about using advancing sciences as an excuse not to worry about how we use the resources we have today. 

It’s not that I don’t believe in science – I do. Very strongly. But I sometimes don’t think much of where we’re taking ourselves when we  put it to use.

Anyway, taking a cue from the quote, “All a first draft must do to be successful is exist,” I’m posting this as is. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

 

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Cool Tweets About Robots, Writing & More

As you may know by now, my next collection is made up of short stories about artificial intelligence and robots. So here are some tweets I’ve seen about cool robot stuff over the last few weeks:

 

 

Many years ago, I saw the Tiger Lilies perform in London – so here’s another tweet that caught my eye:

 

Some links on Self-Publishing:

 

How to Make Money Self-Publishing Fiction.ow.ly/kghjm #writing #indie

— James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) April 21, 2013

 

And a friend talked about starting a forum about women who write science fiction…

 

I’ll leave you with some wise words: