By the time you read this, it may already be the New Year! Whatever your time, I hope you enjoyed the winter holiday season. I also hope you are looking forward to 2024.
The New Year always warrants a celebration. The countdown brings everyone’s attention to the moment we cross into the future. In many ways, this is artificial because every single moment of our lives transfers us into something new. Individual moments rarely carry new intentions. Each New Year’s transition is a symbolic representation of new horizons.
I have many new intentions.
Read more, write more, publish more.
There are other promises, such as stop being a grumpy old goat.
What I find with our resolutions, we often stray from our intention. Perhaps it’s because we overburden ourselves with these promises. In my opinion, we need to define a basic theme for ourselves, maybe even create a mantra that we can use to remind ourselves.
Before you become bored with my self-help nonsense, please pay attention to my simplified theory of New Year’s resolutions.
According to my calculations, my intention is not impossible.
Too many resolutions often result in failure.
Simplicity is the best answer.
My resolve is to…
This is the root.
The prime number.
The least common denominator.
In the literary world, all elements of a story are FOCUSED on a theme.
May I offer a simple mantra – Define your theme and FOCUS on the correct way forward.
I have already set my literary goals and researched my path. I even have the determination to achieve.
As I FOCUS on my future, I intend to sell more books. This sounds like a capitalistic ambition, but you are mistaken. I will not quote scripture, but all books say it is wrong to “Hide your light under a bushel”. I need to spread my words to others. I’m coming out.
I already have an ally in my resolve. Remember my new chair from my last blog post? So far, it’s been helpful to me. Maybe I should give it a name. Is it male or female? Any ideas? For now, I will keep you in suspense, as I cannot yet reveal details of the steps that I take along my path. All I can say is that I will keep you informed.
I will bring you stories that are engineered to entertain. These stories may not answer why, but at least, they may enlighten you to the question.
I will update you all on my New Year’s progress.
Thank you for following me this far.
As always play nicely with everyone else.
That’s all folks!
Keep sailing on…
President of the California Writers’ Club – Sacramento Branch.
Check out our website (www.cwcsacramentowriters.org)
I have a new friend!
It’s not male or female, in fact, it’s not even alive. Before you ask, it’s not even one of those artificial intelligent things. The closest it gets to a computer is a couple of feet.
Who or what is it? I hear you ask, it’s a chair. Not just any chair, it’s a kneeling chair. The first time I saw one, I fell in love, and I’ve been after one ever since.
Everyone praises the way it supports posture, a fact that I concur with. There is a second reason I love these is attentiveness. I am upright with correct posture, with a comfortably balanced spine. My position is above the computer, where I can remain focused on my work. OK, I can still find excuses for working slow, but this certainly is the right direction.
You can see how I used to work at my desk, chronic lethargy is apparent. Posture that deserves an insult. Propensity to snooze, and look at the computer screen, this knob head is playing games!
Have a look what a kneeling chair can do! You can clearly see that this is a happy man. His posture is upright, while he is comfortably positioned for work. Look at his computer screen, this man is flowing with words.
The rest (sic) is going to sound like a product review.
I fell in love with these seats many years ago, in England, but it took me this long to acquire one. Maintaining posture is paramount, while I keep above and focused on my work.
Choices of these chairs are many, I’ve seen prices range up to nearly $1,000 (WTF?) this cost me less than $150. I chose this model because,
- It is on castors and can move around.
- It has side handles, this is the only model I found with handles.
- Back rest – again this is the only one with back rests. Not too sure about backrests, I can always remove it if I decide to.
- Price – did I mention this is cheap?
- Turns out to be well constructed and robust.
Back to Thanksgiving: as you can imagine, my chair is high on my list of things to be thankful for. Other things rate high, some even higher.
What I really want to be thankful for is not forthcoming. After all my years of existence I understand that some things will never come to pass. For instance, when people ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” I always reply, “World peace.”
I don’t think a chair is much help with that.
Thank you for following me this far.
Keep learning, stay above water, and always play nicely with everyone else.
That’s all folks!
This year I accepted the opportunity to deliver the Keynote Speech at the Elk Grove Writer’s Conference.
The title of the speech was “What’s new in Writing and Publishing”. As you can guess, the focus of my presentation was AI.
The speech was filmed and is available on my YouTube Channel.
This month of June I am underground, underwater, and possibly underhanded.
I’m still investigating AI tools. Some of these tools pose a threat. I don’t mean there will be an AI writing program what will write humanity out of existence. Instead, let me give you an example of how AI is affecting writing.
Audio Books – if you read my last blog, you will know that I’m looking towards making an audio book. Many voices in the writing industry have said that audio books are the future. I have tried to listen to audio books, and (personally) I found them boring and bordering on the irritating. I have yet to find a voice that will engage me and draw me into a story. I do not doubt that good and engaging audio books exist, so please enlighten me of examples.
The main markets for audio books strictly exclude AI voices. I can understand why – this is a new technology, and it threatens the jobs of existing (human) book voices.
I take an alternate stance – I think this will create a new set of jobs and a new work force. I have experimented with this technology, and I am (as a technophile) drawn towards it. I think new voice entrepreneurs can use this AI tech to create imaginative books. Let’s move beyond the book to create imaginative audio entertainment.
Yes, I have that sinking feeling that all authors experience. My sunken thoughts are trending towards the officers and crew of ORP Orzel.
I am trending to a new launch of my novel ORP Orzel.
Built in Holland, commissioned on 2 February 1939, she was a state-of-the-art submarine for its day. She avoided the Nazi onslaught in September 1939. While landing her ailing captain in the neutral port of Tallinn, the remaining officers enacted a daring escape from Nazi influenced internment. Yes, the Nazi’s wanted this submarine.
With little hope and no resources, they try to continue the struggle against the Nazis. They eventually flee the Baltic Sea to join the Royal Navy.
“The greatest adventure story to come out of the war” – Sir, Winston Churchill.
This is the Alamo of Poland in WW2. This is the Spirit of Poland!
Sadly, they are lost somewhere in the North Sea.
Being half Polish, I had to make this story public. Technically, the writing format I used is called Creative Non-Fiction. That means I researched the history and events and wrote the story as it happens, in the correct timeline.
OK, this is where I make my confessions.
As they say in the Catholic confessional – “Bless me Father for I have sinned…”
I have a whole bunch of stuff to unload here…
1) I watched Lucifer on Netflix and thought it was really cool (He did NOT make me do it)
2) I’m madly in love with Mazikeen (aka Lesley Ann Brandt) Phwor!
3) I say bad words.
4) Not sure if I want to go to heaven – I hear it’s boring.
5) What the hell is that all about?
6) Lying – do you believe me?
I never did unload my secret desires to a priest. Would you?
Thank you for following me this far.
Keep learning, stay above water, and always play nicely with everyone else.
That’s all folks!
As president of the California Writers’ Club – Sacramento Branch, I am working hard to promote our members’ books. Check out our website, in particular a web page I have built to promote Members’ Books.
This is May and the flowers are springing.
I have also been reminded that it is time for cleaning.
So, out with the old stuff and in with the new thing.
I am turning over not just a new leaf, but a whole new garden. In the meantime, I will be messaging you all once a month. I promise this to be true – I cross my heart and hope never to lie again.
This will be a good exercise to keep me focused, and oh, boy, do we writers need to stay on target.
By the way, many people ask me what my workplace is like.
Normally, I work in my office at home where I do most of my writing (see attached picture).
My heroine gazes upon me from her bed as I write, while my favorite pet dog watches over me from a hillside in Yorkshire. Here in this office, I can work in the early morning or late at night.
I do work in different locations, for instance, I used to like going to the local library. But now that the weather is nice, I will cycle to Lake Natomas and sit on my favorite park bench, with a small picnic, a bottle of wine, and a nice view of the lake. I will sit in the shade and write as best I can.
The real knowledge is not where I write, but – is it ready? Is my brain in gear?
There is some good news! Book 2 of Girl Electric is now in first draft status. That means I must run through the whole thing, fix all the plot holes, check a shedload of other stuff, and then make sure it’s presentable to my editor. She is the last stop before publication.
Oh, wait. I also need a book cover.
Girl Electric had (in my opinion) a good cover, but I need something special for Girl Electric 2.
For this new cover, I think I need 2 girls, because Girl Electric 2, has 2 electric girls. I’m sorry if I’m confusing you but wait until you read this.
* * * * *
With book 2 nearly finished, and publishing only a step away, I have something burning on my mind.
Audiobooks are supposed to be the big thing these days. I’m looking into this, but I want more than just a simple audiobook. All audiobooks have a single narrative voice, this voice will speak the narration and speak all the different characters. I want to do an audiobook where each character has a different voice.
Hiring one person to narrate a standard novel is not cheap.
For Girl Electric I must have a young female voice, to reflect Adara Banks.
For Orzel, it must be an English-speaking male, but with a Polish accent.
If I can find the correct 2 voices, then I could have 2 audiobooks.
BUT – what can I do if I want multiple voices for different characters?
What I would like, is to animate my audio novel with a voice for each character, male/female, young/adult. This is available now with current online AI systems.
In part – and I do stress in part – I have found this capability in the AI voice-over systems that are available. I can select an AI persona and provide a script for that AI to speak.
For instance, I have tested the narrative parts of my work using various AI voices, and that seems to work really well. That’s just the narrative part.
On the other hand, transcribing written dialog into automated AI spoken dialog has proven to be disappointing at best. I have access to online tools that claim to do dialog well. They even have the ability to highlight words, phrases, or whole lines of text and apply a given emotion. Yes, I have seen this work, but I have not managed to get it working in a practical way. It always sounds kind of bland and unconvincing.
You see, a human narrator is best. I can tell them: “You need to cry more when you speak that part.” Whereas a sadness scale of 1-10 may not suffice on the AI crying part.
But I am still working on the AI possibilities. The AI is affordable, but the human version, although expensive, is MUCH more applicable. I just need a bunch of affordable voice actors. If I want multiple (human) voices for each character, then I have to pay for each one. If I were to pursue this approach, I doubt I would make any money.
Multiple voices sound like a radio program or an online play. This is something I want to pursue, not radio plays as such, but a full in-depth, multi-character, audiobook, with a separate voice for each character. This is seriously on my scope! How it comes to reality, I’m not sure yet.
You first heard it here!
Any volunteers for voiceovers?
In addition to AI voices, I have also been experimenting with AI avatars. The YouTube link below is my first dabble in this technology. This is an example of Girl Electric. Yes, I know this is cheesy at best, but we must learn how to crawl before we can even walk.
Running comes later, but someday I dream we can all fly!
As always – keep learning, stay afloat, and play nicely with everyone else.
In September 2021, I spent 4 weeks in Europe, visiting my family and ancestral home. This was shared with time, between Poland and England.
Needless to say, it’s great to be with family, wherever we are. But I also used some of this time in Poland, to research my novel; ORP Orzel – the Spirit of Poland.
I don’t want to bore you with the technical issues of writing an historical novel, instead I want to share with you a little gem I came across while in England.
Maybe I should start with the pub crawl. This isn’t the gem I came across, because I know there are great pubs with great beer, but a pub crawl along the river Thames drinking British beer is something to rave about.
In case you didn’t know, British beer is the best in the world. You may have different opinions about this, and you may send me relevant comments. I just want you to know that there is no way on this side of creation that you will change my mind.
Anyway, I digress, so back to the little gem I discovered.
As well as pub crawls, I was also dragged, kicking, and screaming on shopping trips. There was one shopping trip that I found to be enjoyable.
If you’re in London, and you’re inclined to do some shopping, you probably want to spend time on Oxford St., Knightsbridge, or Mayfair. I say forget those tourist traps and check out a place called Canary wharf.
Canary Wharf is a modern development in the East London docklands, known as the Isle of Dogs.
I know, if it was Paris, they would have a more romantic name like: Île Saint-Louis, Île de la Cité, The Latin Quarter, or Saint-Martin.
Get over it ok? It’s an English thing, Isle of Dogs, in the East end of London – Canary Wharf is the best you can say.
It has been developed as a financial center based around Canada Tower, which used to be the highest skyscraper in London. It is now dwarfed by much grander towers, and is surrounded by shopping malls, boutiques, and very expensive accommodations.
You can read more here:
What I found is just too cool to be true (for me anyway). It was a short story vending machine. Who in their right mind could think up such a thing? All you have to do is press a button and out pops a printed short story! My only criticism is, I couldn’t select the genre – but hey, who cares? It’s free! And I can print as many as I like. I can then find a little quiet hideaway where I can read to my heart’s content, without worrying if a blouse is the right color!
This is the short story station, it will print out for free, a short story of 1, 3, or 5 minutes reading length.
Make a selection of your choice…
I chose a 5-minute story, and here it is!
OK, maybe I’m behind the times and need to get out more. This turns out to be the creation of a French publishing house called Short Édition. Check out the link below.
The romantic French once again get all the credit. Partnering with Francis Ford Coppola, this has spread all over the world. There are quite a few here in America! Look it up on Google if you don’t believe me.
Like I said, I really must get out more.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, imaginatively named by his French father, and English mother. Staring nonchalantly, ignoring the camera. Scruffy shoes and trousers (like mine) hands in pockets with time piece hanging low. Cigar held Clint Eastwood style in his right lip. He was a powerful and influential captain of industry of the 1800s.
Q: Do I compare? Me: No where near.
Q: Am I French? Me: No.
Q: So why suggest this French label?
If you must know, it is my love of words.
Born and bred American, I am half Polish and half English. Even my English side is diluted with Irish. So Polish and Irish seems to make a good blend for crazy joviality. Isn’t everybody a big mix of stuff? I think they call it DNA.
So, Je Suis un Ingénieur sort of says, I have an engineering slant. I’ll get back to this in a minute, let me give you some background to explain…
I was born and bred in the USA by this mix of Anglo/Polish immigrant parentage. As an American child, I was awestruck by the moon launches of the 1960s and ‘70s. Little more in our age can surpass this technological achievement. Never mind how the west was won, America won the space race!
From the age of 12, I grew up in the UK, and became indoctrinated to the metric system and many other noble values. If I was any good at school, I would have become an astronaut, or an inventor. I wasn’t, so I didn’t, if you catch my meaning. Instead, I had to imagine such things.
Now take this little kid and his love of technology, and imagine him in the UK – the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Men with flat caps, dirty overalls, and over-sized spanners slung over their shoulder. Ready to fix, fettle, make, or perform ingenious tricks to get the machinery working. Not to mention the many industrialists such as Brunel.
I was introduced to many heroes and heroines. Charles Babbage, the inventor of the analytic difference engine – also known as a mechanical computer.
Ada Lovelace, regarded as the first computer programmer. The original breakage of the glass ceiling? Not many women in engineering these days.
Even the modern electronic computer was first implemented in the UK in the 1940s by Alan Turing. All of these (and more) became great heroes and heroines of mine.
Nowadays, this would be Silicon Valley, Frederick Terman, Russell & Sigurd Varian, to name but a few. You thought I was going to mention the late comers like Larry Ellison or Steve Jobs.
Don’t despair, engineers are not total geeks, we also love the arts. There are other heroes of mine, such as Igor Stravinski, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, The Who, but that’s music. I can’t even whistle.
Despite being so dimly useless at school, I eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and computer communications. This led me into a career in software development for consumer electronics, my focus was primarily digital TV – satellite, cable, IPTV. Yes, I helped to bring those hundreds of channels of trivial poop to your living room.
This also allowed me to travel the world.
OK, so that explains the engineering side. But what about the French slant?
Good question. Should I not forget French creators? Gustave Eiffel, or Louis Le Prince (who incidentally preceded the Lumière Brothers).
The point I’m trying to make is to do with language.
In the English language, the word engineer, has it’s root in the word engine. I suppose because the Brits invented all kinds of engines.
In the French language, the word Ingénieur has its root in the word ingenuity (the ingenious one). I suppose because the engines of industry were already there, the French had to figure ingenious ways to use them?
So I am an engineer, but I do not invent engines. I am the ingenious one, who works with engines in new and novel ways. I have proved myself to be a ‘cunning artificer’, or person of unique ‘ingenuity’. Therefore, I like to identify myself with the French root phrase of ingenuity rather than the English root word of Engine.
Je Suis un Ingénieur, is my way of saying, ‘I am a creative one.’
I have left my lucrative career of engineering behind me in order to explore the creation of stories.