Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ships

SpaceX has unveiled its large spaceship to carry 100 people to Mars. That's quite an engineering feat to pull off with our current technology. They are doing it and outsmarting the smartest smartypants of this most-smarts-than-anyone-has-seen planet, NASA. *Phew*

UES Encounter
I, of course, just dream up of a spaceship and plant it in your mind, like the UES Encounter for instance. It appears in the novel I'm writing, Pursuit in Time. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by talking about the ship.

If you take our current tech, and think about how much advancement we will have in say 70 years, you might geek out and think of really cool stuff. Unfortunately, most things will be quite the same. There will be advancement in materials, and some other technology, but we humans tend to only advance areas we are interested in and leave alone those we are not. So if we apply some conservatism, we might get a more realistic picture.

So, UES Encounter was an international project set to launch around 2113. It was a response to SETI successfully making contact with aliens via radio waves years earlier. Thus communications started with an alien race. A language was learned through these communications and technology was shared. Then an agreement was made to meet.

The meeting place was in a neutral area in outer space. The meeting also seemed to be a test for humans because it was 2 light years from Earth. That's right. It was half way to Alpha Centauri.

Nobody had ever left the Solar System. They had only gone as far as the asteroid belt. That was for mining. It was unprecedented to send a crew into interstellar space. The only data they had on it was from the Voyagers and other unmanned probes.

As news spread on Earth about aliens, groups and factions protested. They said they didn't want aliens on Earth. Others claimed aliens had already been to Earth. There was a lot of social turmoil. The mission went ahead on schedule.

The Encounter itself had a modular design, but it wasn’t like any ship that humans had ever made before. Some of its systems were ideas from alien knowledge. It needed to push speed limits to close to the speed of light. To that end, it needed very large plasma ion engines with a hybrid reactor powering it.

Fusion reactors had finally come online. The hybrid reactor was a combo of fission and fusion by using an extraordinary isotope called cyclematter. Using the cyclematter, the two reactors were able to feed off of each other’s waste. Thus creating an immense amount of energy in a short time. It was perfect for a space ship application.

The ship needed to accelerate at around 30 Gs to reach its speed and distance goals. Of course that type of acceleration would not be good on the crew. So an inertia damper system which dubbed as an artificial gravity system was devised. This system was also the first of its kind since Earth ships had no need of such devices. It relied entirely on magnetism. A strong magnetic field kept everything headed in the right direction, even bio matter. Before you ask, the electronics were shielded from the magnetism. This system also had a subsystem that shielded the crew from radiation.

For long range communication with Earth, the ship relied on a unique system that used quantum entanglement. This allowed instant communication with Earth no matter where the ship was in space.

Other than that, most systems on the Encounter were pretty much based on the ones we have today: water recycling, air filtration, carbon dioxide management, EVA equipment, tough outer skin as a physical shield,

The ship was designed for one trip and one trip only, but it would log the longest distance ever in human history. Of course, that’s assuming all goes well.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Liking Longevity

My brother died at 51 of cancer. His perspective was acceptance, but there was sadness. My mother in law is 92, and she is wondering why she is still living. If you talk to a teenager, they think anyone over 30 is ancient. If you talk to a person in their middle age, you will, most probably, hear a distaste to the idea of living a long life. Somewhere along the line, we have foster a notion that loving a long life is not desirable. Maybe that has something to do with Rock Culture. I don’t know. I don’t share this distaste.

Medical science has been pushing life expectancy over the length of the 20th century. Some medics believe it's probable that people will live to 120. So it seems most people who have jumped the hurdles of being murdered in a bloodbath, dying frivolously in a car crash, get taken abruptly by cancer, or are broken by heart disease, are not prepared for the years ahead of them. Once they get there, they don't know what to do, They tend to live like they always have.

In my opinion, there is no secret to happiness. Just make sure your basic needs are met, and have some constructive fun. Destructive fun should be done in the realm of fiction such as games, shows, and books.

Ah yes, the dark side. Let's delve into that beast a bit, shall we? When we’re at an ‘old age’, it's because we have avoided the physical fulfilment of our dark side. Sure, that's a good thing, ‘cause we are not all light. The dark needs to be fed. We all want to be an Evil Queen, a Darth Vader, or even my character, Mel, once in awhile. Sometimes we fancy the tragic types like a Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, or a Scarlett O'Hara. I can hear Vincent Price laughing in the background somewhere. The wonders of storytelling allow us to experience these unethical behaviors without the risk of being judged.

We live at the height of the information age. We have audio, video, and text at our literal fingertips. through our phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, we can access songs, movies, TV show series, e-books, and more.

I would guide your attention to the e-book. Now, e-books have been steadily gaining ground on regular books through the years. I don't think regular books will go away, but I do think that e-book are here to stay. They have their own place in our lives. My point is as we grow older, the advantages of e-book reading become more and more apparent. Tablet technology will only grow in sophistication and application. Wherever you have a tablet, you have an e-book.

Movies are hard to make, so there are only a few of them every year. Same with TV series. But novels are another story. Please, don't pardon the pun. There are a lot of novels out there. Too many, perhaps, to keep up. So I think reading is an ideal pastime for the advanced years. The mind never grows old; it’s forever young.

If you are not a reader, there is no reason you can't become one. Just find a type a book you like and and start. There are plenty of venues online to discuss you book. It's fun.

I don't plan on waiting around for the Grim Reaper to come for me. I plan to give him a chase. Let's see if I can make it to that 120 finish line. I still have a hurdle or two of my own to jump.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mel's Shorts is Out

I took several short stories in this blog and put them together in one ebook called Mel's Shorts. Of course, there was a lot of editing I had to do. Some stories were a few years old and my writing was pretty rough.

For those of you who don't know what these stories are about, here is some information.

This book contains science fiction stories of a pair of time travelers causing mayhem in the universe.

A time traveler gives a family some historical perspective.

An alien village it duped by a stranger.

A mayor seeks help from a higher power.

An old man is abused by an acquaintance.

A young man is challenged to greater things.

Thieves steal a bank.

Friends confront differences.

Origins of the time traveler is discovered.

A human girl discovers new things at her new space job.

Scientists make good on their project.

A young alien is visited by a time traveler.

These stories are full of mischief and intrigue. They tell of how people relate, love, and betray one another.


You can currently find Mel's Shorts at:

Amazon Kindle (US) - Search Mel's Shorts in your local Amazon site if you do not live in the US.

Smashwords

EC Holm

Thanks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Reading Books

This blog is about fiction, my fiction. Yet, as an ABE Educator, I would feel like I’ve done a disservice if I didn't talk about reading.

Now, I recently looked at the latest data of the US readership in the US to find out how eBook readership was doing. You know what I found out? That readership last year was down across the board. As a new author, that disheartens me. With reading you learn new things, and you have more options how to read than before.

I know readership goes up and down from year to year, but still when it's down it means people are not taking advantage of great entertainment coupled with education. You can count on learning something new when you read a novel. If not some little fact about the subject matter, you brush up on spelling,vocabulary, and grammar. You may ask why you need those things since you don't write. Well, everybody writes. We text, we write emails to our bosses. We write on Facebook and every other social media you can think of. You look better when you spell correctly, use proper grammar, and great words. Apart from writing there's t

What about reading itself? I always had a hard time reading when I was young. I needed reading glasses and didn't know it. Also, books were hard for me to keep open or too heavy. It was also hard for me to stay still for long periods of time. When I got glasses, I read more. When ebooks came around, it was a godsend. I could read on my phone with one hand and without pain. It was wonderful. Reading is such a personal activity. You have to find the proper atmosphere, the proper time, the proper everything that fits your needs. If you love to read out of physical books, more power to you. The ebook gives you controls that a book simply cannot. You can choose the size, weight, background color, font, and font size. Do you read with a single hand or with two hands? All these option are available to you when you read ebooks. I hear argument for books how people like the feel and smell of them. That's all good. I suggest there are real and practical reasons to being an ebook consumer. Some of these have to do with physical quirks of nerves, muscles, and eyes. Other reasons are just pure practical; you can carry more ebooks on one device than you can books in a suitcase while traveling, for instance. Reading has never been a more friendlier activity to the reader than it is today. Truth be told, most people buy both physical books and ebooks for various reasons.

Though readership is currently down in the US, reading has a bright future via its various options to the reader. I think the word needs to get out there more about reading and its options. So, buy a book, any book, any type and read.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Relation Insights Between Reader and Writer

Some well-intended writers share their experiences in marketing their first book that they have self-published. They say what worked for them and what doesn't work. They may mention how little money they received. What is the book business really like, and I mean in an overall perspective? In my opinion, it's a love affair between writer and reader. There is trust involved here.

They say money makes itself wings and flies away. That is to say, it's fleeting. No amount of money in the world could set you up for life. You have to have an influx of cash coming in. That said, Stephen King did hit the jackpot when his novel Carrie went to paperback. He didn't stop writing. He kept on writing even today. He knows he needs to write to keep the money coming in. It takes more than one book to make a book business. His fans adore him for it too.

Why does the romance novel sector sell so well? It's my opinion that since reading is such a personal experience, readers are quite open to private experiences in their minds. Society does not condemn them for it either. The experience also goes hand in hand with the relationship the writer has with the reader. Sure, the relationship is indirect, but it exists. Am I suggesting something of distaste? Not at all. The writer is a guide to the reader in the art of pleasure. She or he supplies the scenes, characters and event to conjure up the emotions in the reader. In fact, that’s what all writers to in all fiction genres. We are not unlike the gardener who prepares the soil and sows the seeds and water the garden so emotions sprout and grow to new heights. Thus the love affair. Sometimes it's like sordid lovers and others it's like careful parents. It's always love. It's always caring.

Yes, the book business is like a love affair. It's easy to lose that perspective when you're in the fray of social media, and you’re looking at the bottom line. I think the mistake young writers get into is that they get monetarily desperate. That's bad. If you are starting to write a book, have an income already. Don't be desperate, but be stable. Then you won't hurt your work or your business or, more importantly, hurt you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Readership

This blog is about fiction, my fiction. Yet, as an ABE Educator, I would feel like I’ve done a disservice if I didn't talk about reading.

Now, I recently looked at the latest data of the US readership in the US to find out how eBook readership was doing. You know what I found out? That readership last year was down across the board. As a new author, that disheartens me. With reading you learn new things, and you have more options how to read than before.

By EC Holm
I know readership goes up and down from year to year, but still when it's down it means people are not taking advantage of great entertainment coupled with education. You most always learn something new when you read a novel. If not some little fact about the subject matter, you brush up on spelling,vocabulary, and grammar. You may ask why you need those since you don't write. Well, everybody writes. We text, we write emails to our bosses. We write on Facebook and every other social media you can think of. You look better when you spell correctly, use proper grammar, and great words.

What about reading itself? I always had a hard time reading when I was young. I needed reading glasses and didn't know it. Also, books were hard for me to keep open or too heavy. It was also hard for me to stay still for long periods of time. When I got glasses, I read more. When ebooks came around, it was a godsend. I could read on my phone with one hand and without pain. It was wonderful. Reading is such a personal activity. You have to find the proper atmosphere, the proper time, the proper everything that fits your needs. If you love to read out of physical books, more power to you. The ebook gives you controls that a book simply cannot. You can choose the size, weight, background color, font, and font size. Do you read with a single hand or with two hands? All these option are available to you when you read ebooks. I hear argument for books how people like the feel and smell of them. That's all good. I suggest there are real and practical reasons to being an ebook consumer. Some of these have to do with physical quirks of nerves, muscles, and eyes. Other reasons are just pure practical; you can carry more ebooks on one device than you can books in a suitcase while traveling, for instance. Reading has never been a more friendlier activity to the reader than it is today. Truth be told, most people buy both physical books and ebooks for various reasons.

Though readership is currently down in the US, reading has a bright future via its various options to the reader. I think the word needs to get out there more about reading and its options. So, buy a book, any book, any type and read.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Lunatics have Taken Over the Asylum

Oh no! The lunatics have taken over the asylum. This is how it feels like for me now that the characters are in control of the plot. I have to say, it's scary.

OK, I borrowed the line from Richard Rowland who made the same statement when United Artists was created in 1919. I think it still applies.

Through the Writers Guild, I've learned that most writers write without a plot. They just focus on the characters and then figure it all out. Nice way of delegating. I've always had a hard time delegating. Though I never agreed with Rowland, I find myself in a similar position as he did about 100 years ago. It’s so hard for us humans to just let go.

I guess the ideal is cooperation. Why force the characters into situations, though you will? Why dictate every step? Dictating every step is really not needed. In fact, I find it choking. I prefer to give the characters freedom to have their say and interact with each other and the environment.

Recently, I let the characters do their thing and they came up with an interesting fact that was uncovered. I was jittery through the whole process, but it revealed what the bad guy was doing and worked into the original plot. Well what do you know? The characters actually came through. Heh.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Narrator

There are many people that think that first person is a great way to tell a story. There are stories that are told very well in first person. If you think about it, many modern day stories make the protagonist the narrator. How good of a story teller is your protagonist? If they are not the talkative type, you wouldn’t get much of a story out of them. If they are the talkative type, you may not get to the story. So, I do not personally like the idea of the protagonist telling the story unless they are normal. The problem with normal is that it’s boring.


Sherlock Holmes is indeed written in the first person as well as Frankenstein and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The narrator in these are not the protagonist, but another character closely associated with the protagonist. To me, this makes more sense. A person of action or of special ability may not have the ability or the willingness to tell their own tale. This also makes them interesting. Can you imagine Holmes willing to tell his own tale? Surely not. He always has other things to consider. That’s what makes Holmes Holmes.


You might say that all these tales are from a bygone era, and today we live in a self promoting world. I say people are still people, and characters are still characters. Take Batman for example. If you want to write a first person story on Batman, can you really imagine Bruce Wayne telling the story? No. That doesn’t make any sense because he’s a man of secrets. The obvious character to be the narrator is Alfred, and that in confidence.


Young adult books (YA) are written in first person. This is to lend believability to the young readers. There are also a set of rules authors of YA have to abide by. That does not make it easy.


What does this all mean? Well, I say don’t be too quick to jump into a first person narration because everybody else is doing it. Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. How does it fit with your characters? How can it fit in with your story? What is the effect to the reader? Prove your assumptions. First person narration is a much more complicated matter than third person narration and should be handled with care.

So far, I’ve only written one story in first person. That was Letters to Olivia. That story was also experimental for me. It was in a set framework, emails which amounted to texts. I had to apply my knowledge of software engineering, space travel, and space communication in order to make the circumstances for the emails in a future setting believable. I think it worked out, though the story line may have suffered.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Secret Partners

Concept Art
On a faraway planet, there was a mountain ridge that was secluded from society. On that ridge, sat a secret government lab. It was currently being used by two intrepid scientists who were about to make a breakthrough.

Jedcos measured out the ingredient. His orange hand was shaking like a photon imbued electron getting ready to raise its energy level.

“Don’t drop it. That stuff’s expensive and highly lethal. You wouldn't want me to find another ethically challenged scientist that just does what I ask to replace you, would you?” said Doctor Zilther.

If you want to read the rest of this story, please check it out in my ebook Mel's Shorts.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Entrepreneurial Adventure

I have been thinking a lot about marketing. I mean consider this situation. Person A writes book. They get it published by a publisher to get a small percentage of the sales. Then they are told to market it. Now if person A is a new writer, and this is their first book, they have to all of the sudden become a marketing manager with little or no training or preparation.

Now consider Person B who also writes a book. They decide to self publish and cut out the middle man for their first book for whatever many reasons. They get the benefit of the full sales profit once one is made. They have extra work to do to make the publishing happen, but they do it and the book is out. Now they also have to market their book. They also have no experience or training. They have to become marketing managers of their books as well.

What is the moral of these stories? Well, no matter if you publish with a traditional publisher is self publish, you have to market your book. So why not catch a tiger by the rail and start early?

You see writing fiction is not just writing, it's an entrepreneurial adventure.

The way I started my entrepreneurial adventure is with this blog. Yep, I’m writing my first novel and keeping a blog at the same time. Then I am also putting myself out there on social media.

Why would I do that if my book is far from being finished? Exposure, my friend, exposure. Think about it. Why is Kim Kardashian famous? You can’t think of one thing she has done, can you? She’s had some good marketing and exposure. Not that kind of exposure. Don’t be crude.

So, exposure should turn into readers and readers should translate into initial sales by the time my book comes out.

Frankly, I’m looking to the long term. There is no get rich quick scheme here. Have fun and be savvy.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Letters To Olivia

Deep Space Station 1 - Concept Art by EC Holm


>Open New Folder – Letters to Olivia

>Open New File

1/1/2110 13:01

Dear Olivia,

Well, I'm out here, like I said I would be, writing to you on my tablet. I'm traveling in a cramped capsule with five other people, and all of them are guys. Even after 10 days of travel, they have been behaving, but I'm going nuts missing my best friend.

How are things back home in San Jose? I hope you're keeping yourself safe with the gang fights everywhere. Who would have thought that the news of alien contact, a few years ago, would rupture into civil unrest worldwide, right? The Encounter mission, to meet the aliens, has still a few years to launch. What will happen then? Full blown wars? I hope not.

Meet any cute boys in college? And how's that biology major going? Are you really interested in going to Mars? Ever since the microbe discovery, it seems like every biology major wants to be a Martian.

I'm not like you. You're smart and got the means to go to college. You know why I had to take this opportunity. There was nothing left for me back home. I don't want to get stuck in retail in my small hometown. I want to live, explore, and see what's out there. This job at Deep Space Station 1 lets me do that.

I didn't get a chance to tell you about the station before I left; we had so much to talk about. It's actually a helix. That means it's shaped like a spring. It rotates to provide artificial gravity. It's about a tenth of a mile in diameter and a tenth of a mile long. There's a central corridor that runs through the middle of its structure. Using that corridor, you can walk the whole station from end to end without turning right or left. That's about 7.5 miles. Yep, I intend to run it.

It's so cramped in here I hope we'll dock soon.

Love Susy.

If you wish to read the rest of this story, it is in the free ebook Mel's Shorts. Please read more about it at the Mel's Shorts page.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rejection

After submitting my story to a couple of well known magazines, I felt the pang of rejection. Sure, rejection is normal for any artist: singer, musician, actors, painters, illustrators, and even writers. Like I said before, I had never experienced it as a writer. That is, I have never experienced rejection of any of my art, or not that I can remember.


You see, when I grew up I wrote for my own gratification. Well, you can imagine what gratifies a young boy. I also drew in pencil. I had more of a passion for drawing than I did for writing. Part of me wanted to become an artist as a career. When I learned that there was no money in art, I got disillusioned and pursued a technical career. My best works were always in black and white.


In the Air Force, I found out that I was color blind. That made sense to me since I preferred to work in black and white mediums. As I worked and lived life, I realized how art is not just drawing. It can be a lot of things. Then the writer inside of me started to quicken. I was doing a lot of Biblical studies then and wrote down things constantly. Years later, after I found my lovely wife, I started to write fiction just to see if I could. I didn't stop. It’s been 13 years.


In the past year and with the help of the St Louis Writers Guild, I was able to increase the quality of my writing. I still have a ways to go, but it's coming along nicely. Of course the plan is to become a professional writer to one degree or another. For me, that means writing novels and short stories.

So these rejections are a part of the process, the process of growing as a writer. Therefore, I keep on writing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My First Story Submission

So I wrote a short story for publication. Of course it was science fiction, my chosen genre. I edited it and formatted it as a manuscript. Then I printed it out and handed it out to my beta readers for their comments. Their comments came in, and I rewrote the story. Then I set it aside for a few weeks and looked at it again. I made corrections, then I submitted it to a good science fiction magazine. Now I'm waiting.


I did this whole process to go through the process since I have never done it before. I’d hate to try to go through the process for the first time on a novel. I’ve been advised by other authors to cut my teeth on short stories. I think that’s wise counsel.


There’s something I discovered along the way. You see I had 3 women and 3 men as my beta readers. Though they all had good critical comments, each gender complained about a certain item. Now, the two genders didn't complain about the same item. No, no. They complained about different items. The two items in question were the crescendo and the ending. The men thought the crescendo was too curt, and the women wondered why the ending was the way I made it.


I knew there was a difference in thinking between the sexes, but to me this highlights just how much. Neither gender questioned the other’s misgiving. Why? It was just strictly gender based opinion. Fascinating! I laugh at the very thought. I giggle to no end at the idea that my story gave such a reaction. I never thought it would. The reason is that the crescendo and the ending have nothing to do with gender at all.


My personal conclusion, I could be wrong, is that I've struck a balance among the sexes. Sure, it's not a totally positive balance, but I'll take it.