Buccaneer Blogfest: Inspirations

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Another week is winding down, and it’s time to go all contemplative on my audience. I’m told that there’s a vast and unquenchable interest in my light bulb moment, that flash of inspiration that made Sanity Vacuum or the Zombie Bedtime Stories possible.

You’ll laugh.

My burst of inspiration for Sanity Vacuum originally came in summer 2009. I was riding my bike (my primary form of transport at the time) on the way to a paid psychological studies. Basically, you spend an hour or two answering questionnaires and doing simple tasks on a computer for $20 or so. I was happy because back in my student days it meant a reprieve from eating white rice and oatmeal two meals per day for about a week.

When I exercise, my mind wanders. Usually, straight into alien/zombie invasion fantasy land. Is there anything else worth fantasizing about?

This time, though, something clicked and I had a story idea–my first ever. Conceptually, it was much different than the finished product. At the time I laughed and said “like I’d ever write a book, I saw where that got my Mom. I’m not into a stop in “Your writing is amazing but you don’t write [insert flavor of the month]. Write that and try again” land.”

I was never able to shake that mind-baby, and it mouldered in the back of my mind until 2011. I’d started writing Locked In by that point, and came across the old idea while daydreaming. I decided that the original idea would make a pretty boring book, added more characters and tweaked pretty much everything.

Then, NaNoWriMo and a month of bed rest unluckily coincided. I wrote a nice outline and character sketches and then proceeded to ignore the outline. (My outlines are the gift that keeps on giving. I could write from the same outline ten times and get ten unique stories.)

I entered it into the CQ NaNo-Virtuoso contest, and the rest is history.

As for the Zombie Bedtime Stories, Locked In (#1) was conceived when I was pacing around my home. Pacing is a nervous habit of mine, but it’s also how I think. The rest of the Zombie Bedtime Stories came out of taking summer walks, or more pacing.

That’s my secret. Pacing. It works for math problems and writing.

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Buccaneer Blogfest Character interview: quIRK

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I’ve chosen a very special character to interview today, and fortunately my gnome-powered alternate universe time link (aka imagination) is happy to present quIRK, from my upcoming novel Sanity Vacuum.

How about introducing yourself to the audience, quIRK.

I am quIRK, a post-ABACUS model supercomputer. I have been running continuously for just over thirteen years, and my job is to process astronomical data and tend to the needs of the crew of the Extra-Galactic Observatory.  I like cats, my favorite color is antiblue and I have a fondness for the ethereal tones of the Auroran lute.

So, you’re in space. That’s pretty awesome. Do you like being in space. What’s your most/least favorite task on the job?

I have often mused that it is fortunate that I have a hard-wired predisposition towards enjoying astronomy and cosmology. If that were not the case, I imagine I would be a very different and much less fulfilled being. I would like to try my hand at high energy particle physics, but my scientists won’t let me.

My favorite task would be conversing with the crew. Mathematics are fascinating, but my adaptive psychological algorithms are always challenged by human interaction and taking part in the crew’s discussions. Conversely, my least favorite task would be screening the station administrator’s outgoing messages. He keeps trying to get rid of my cats.

Those crazy humans. If you could transfer your consciousness into a human body, would you?

I’ve always been curious to experience the freedom and mobility that humans enjoy. As well, I’d like to try eating, or even just the sensation of petting a cat. However, my current form has its advantages. Some measure of immortality (as long as the administrator keeps neglecting his duties, he’s supposed to wipe my memory once per year.) Limited omniscience and vast computational power also have their advantages.

Where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to see a tree. They’re such fascinating natural fractal patterns. I could sit under the kilometer high trees of Elyssia, or see the shrub trees of Aurora. Aurora itself is a fascinating place, if only because I could never survive the radiation and solar storms as I am now. Perhaps I would even eat some chocolate, or indulge in fungus-marinated Nova Albion dodo. For some reason, my humans won’t let me prepare that last one for them. Fungus oil and Nova Albion dodo are both delicacies, they must be even better together!

Can you experience the world sensually, in a way similar to organic life forms?

Yes and no. I have multitudes of internal and external sensors that give me input. I can “see” and “hear” everything inside the Extra Galactic Observatory, and I can detect the composition of the air which gives me a sense of smell. However, I cannot taste or touch. For that, I am forced to live vicariously through my humans and cats.

I am aware of my own hardware, I self-analyze and use the information to determine if all is functioning. In the case I am damaged, I can tell my caretakers what requires attention.

Do you have any emotions? Do you get lonely?

As my program has developed, I’ve made many leaps towards what one could consider emotions. I do not believe I possess the full spectrum, but I am capable of empathy for my friends, I worry when they’re unhappy or ill and I enjoy the simple things like time spent together.

I do get lonely. When everyone is asleep, who is left to talk to me? The worst thing that could happen to me would be being trapped in a little box, unable to interact with the world. I like working with the crew, and talking to them. I even appreciate being able to share in their entertainment, whether it’s watching a game of squash in the recreation hall, or watching vids together. Sometimes the humans don’t appreciate my commentary, but if they can yell at the screen, then so can I.

If you could ask your programmer/creator a question, what would it be?

I would ask: Why are you afraid of me? We are all beings trying to make their way in the universe—what I am does not make me inherently evil.  Sadly, most of humanity’s entertainment assumes that intelligent machines are genocidal—a very prejudiced notion.

Is there any simple task you cannot do?

I can’t pet a cat, look inside my own uncertainty filters or guess the topic of Alec’s next rant.

From a fan: Was 42 the right answer?

It’s not a bad guess, for a human.

Can you calculate pi to the last digit?

I find the human fascination with irrational numbers to be irrational. My own fascination with irrational numbers involves not attempting to calculate them.

Have you ever lost a chess game?

Only against myself. Vivian taught me poker, and it continues to confound me. Bluffing does not come easily to a computer.

Are you scared of anything? What about zombies?

I fear being discovered and shut down, dismantled. My humans or cats being hurt—protecting them is my reason for existing. I can only imagine that my questioner is much like Alec, and watches far too many antiquated horror movies.

Now, on to some deeper questions:

How can we keep the Earth’s temperature from rising much farther? How do we get people and governments to carry it out?

I have the benefit being from 1000 years in the future. You see, the problem never got solved. Earth became a barren wasteland, and thus humanity seeded the galaxy and kept Earth on life support, dependent from food imports from other planets.

One hundred years ago, Earth’s supercomputer, ABACUS, gained sentience, and in response Earth was cut off from the galaxy. I can only presume the people of Earth starved to death. To avoid this in your timeline, I would suggest either a philosopher king or a supercomputer leader. Install a puppet government for entertainment and distraction; the general population will never know the difference.

Women.

I’ll rephrase that question for you: HUMANS. My best advice is to say nice things, give them chocolate and let them choose the entertainment. Avoid mentioning antiblue, unless you want a good fight.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy life to talk to us, quIRK. Any last words?

Keep an open mind.

 

And, that was quIRK, the sentient super computer from Sanity Vacuum. You’ll be meeting him again hopefully later this year.

 

Buccaneer Blogfest: Read the first paragraphs of my WIPs

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Hi everyone! It’s that time of week again, which means it’s another post for the awesome Buccaneer blogfest. I’ve met so many cool people, it’s been an amazing experience so far. Now, it’s time to move into week two, and the prompt for today happens to include paragraphs. Fortunately, these paragraphs don’t involve a great deal of pointless rambling for me, but rather, are the first paragraphs of my works in progress, Sanity Vacuum and Bedlam (Zombie Bedtime Stories #4.)

First, I give you the first paragraph of Sanity Vacuum, my upcoming novel to be published by CQ. I just got my edits back, and I’m super stoked.

 

The deafening boom of the rocket’s engines filled the air, and Vivian Skye’s lungs. She watched in awe as the spacecraft took flight, climbing into the scintillating green-red glow of Aurora’s chaotic skies.  This was her first visit to the spaceport in the capital city of Antica, Aurora’s only major link to the stars and galaxy beyond. Located close to the planet’s equator, the site was one of the few places on the planet where the electronics required for space flight would work above ground and unshielded. Aurora’s star, Helios, was unstable and often experienced geomagnetic storms. While there was little danger to humans in terms of radiation exposure outside the forbidden Polar Regions, most technology would be disabled or damaged beyond repair after leaving the equatorial zone. Aurora had been one of the first worlds colonized by Earth in the early days of space travel—in modern times, it would be passed over as unsuitable for advanced human life.

Now, here come the zombies. Let’s hear it for Samantha Henderson, the hero of Bedlam. It’s pre-edit, and not yet polished.

“I want my Mommy,” the girl clinging to Corporal Samantha Henderson’s hand choked back sobs, and looked up at her. She couldn’t be more than seven, and her pale blue eyes were bloodshot and brimming with tears. Samantha had been part of a squad assigned to evacuate this large inner city elementary school. She didn’t know if they were going to make it, but Samantha was determined to do her duty and get as many kids out as possible. The school was a decaying, squalid building—a leftover relic of the baby boom nearly a century before. Now, it was underfunded and in a state of disrepair Samantha found shocking. The grey hallway dragged on ahead of them, only punctuated by the closed classroom doors and children’s art projects. She enjoyed the sound of her boots on the cold granite floor. The powerful echoes gave her the illusion of power and control, when in reality her stomach gnawed around the chill of uncertainty.

 

I wish you the best of weeks, and to continue hopping, just click on the banner above.

Why I started blogging.

It’s an interesting question. My initial logic for starting a blog in April 2011 was along the following lines:

Every piece of writing advice ever written says I need a blog, therefore I’ll get a blog! Yes, lemming-like, I know.

If you’re wondering about the name, nerdygnome, would be because I’m a nerd, and gnomes are pretty chill little guys. I’m a pretty chill girl who is on the short side, thus the name fit. At least I didn’t name it after pirates or vikings.

The general idea of this blog was just to post status updates, vent about edits making me hate myself and showing off fancy covers. Also, the bragging. So much the bragging. There really isn’t a plan to the thing at all, I just write about my zombies, sci fi and other important things.

I think my critical failing is that I don’t really have an end-game plan for this blog. That’s part of the reason to join the Buccaneer Blogfest–the guided prompts help me think of what I really could be doing with this blog, and opens my eyes to more possibilities. Some of the prompts are pure genius, like character interviews and light bulb moments.

The Buccaneer Blogfest!

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I love pirates. Space pirates, sea pirates, awesome pirates, ass pirates. I’m not going to elaborate on what exactly an ass pirate is, but it’s a pirate so it’s all good. Thus, when presented with singular opportunity to become a blogging buccaneer, I said “arrr” a few times and signed up. I am far too immature for this, and should stick to zombies, obviously. Until the viking blogfest rolls into town (hint, hint).

Now, a bit about me.

I’m a lifelong nerd, and a lover of science (I’m finishing off a physics degree), I enjoy (good) science fiction, fantasy, horror and for some reason find most thrillers unspeakably boring. Unless a movie falls into the “so bad it’s awesome” category, I probably don’t care to watch it (I do dig anything with a feminist/historical/civil rights bent, though.) I’m really not a TV person in general. Notable exceptions: Star Trek, Doctor Who and recently Dexter. I liked Rome too, because Rome is/was awesome. I’m also a crazy chef, love making preserves from my vegetable garden and crochet is the best in winter.

I live with my awesome but extremely talkative boyfriend, my two cats (Pip + Bonk) and his two cats (Zeus + Milo). I like frogs. Music-wise, I enjoy metal. My favorite bands are: KMFDM, The Birthday Massacre, Rammstein and in my geekier moments I love Rhapsody of Fire. I also like the sub genre called Viking Metal for reasons relating to awesomeness and men in war paint.

As for my blog, it’s mostly my place to write about my writing. I post about my video reviews, progress on my WIPs and other various good news that comes my way. If I release something, I post a first chapter, and a cover reveal. This blog has been a little neglected lately, but I’m hoping to breathe some new life into it.

You can find all my various social medial links on my Contact page.

Sadly, because I’m on WordPress, I can’t post the linky code, but rest assured, you can reach the rest of the blog hop by visiting Sharon Bayliss and her sweet blog.

Zombie Bedtime Stories, a one year anniversary perspective

It’s been a year since I unleashed the first Zombie Bedtime Story, Locked In. Two pseudo-sequels and a few hundred sales later, I find myself reflecting on my first foray into the world of fiction. Hindsight is 20/20, and I must say it looks damn good from where I’m sitting.

What’s upcoming for the next year? Part four, Bedlam, will herald the end of the initial series setup, and part five, Succor, will be the first true sequel. I hope to further my examination of the feelings of loss, hopelessness and the indomitable human will to survive. Themes taken from my own life, topics that resonate very close to home for me.

Did I mention I have twelve to fourteen installations planned? It’s not for the faint of heart.

Would I do anything differently? I’d probably read fewer writing blogs, and ignore most of the “how to be the best spam bot ever” social media advice that plagues the writing community. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all this, it’s all about the real connection to your friends (readers). You can’t get that through Tweetdeck. You get that one smilie face and exchange at a time. There are real, wonderful people out there in the world, and looking at them as potential marks is the wrong way to go about it. Take the longer road, say nice things to strangers and just write. Then, write some more, and for the sake of all of us, edit.

Year two… engage.