Technology Gone Awry

The writing prompt for this week is: Include a piece of technology that goes berserk. I love this one because it could really be anything. At first glance, it might sound like it has to be science fiction. But technology has existed since humans created the first tool.

What then could go wrong with the technology? In every age throughout history, things go wrong with the latest in modern advances. Whether that is a simple stone dagger used by a caveman, or the most sophisticated AI of the future, things can always go wrong. The stone dagger breaks during a crucial battle. An intelligent space ship malfunctions and turns off the life support. Things go wrong.

This makes me wonder what sort of things might go wrong with technology in my own novels. Mostly I write fantasy fiction with a medieval-type setting. Technology consists of things such as lyres, horse-drawn carts, swords, and siege engines.

I have a science fiction novel I’m working on that involves kidnapping, espionage and intrigue on an intergalactic stage. Guns, bombs, spaceships. With a little magic thrown in for good measure. Now, what could possibly go wrong with technology like that?

Then there are my middle grade adventures that are based in the current day world with current day tech like cell phones, tablets and skateboards. Skateboards may be “low tech,” but things can still go wrong.

How then, do I include a piece of technology gone bad? The prompt seems to imply that the technology itself goes berserk, like a robot with a short circuit issue or AI that goes rogue. But what if it is the human element behind the technology that has gone bad?

I had some fun with this prompt, playing a little “what if?” game to explore the various technologies in my novels. For this exercise I chose to stick to low tech gadgets such as a skateboard belonging to one of my boys from the Silver Compass Adventures, and the lute played by the bard in one of my fantasy novels. This led to imagining a variety of scenarios ranging from humorous to embarrassing to downright disastrous. Some of these ideas could even end up in one of my novels someday.

This is where writing is a lot of fun. If a prompt isn’t exactly working for you, build on it, move beyond it, play around with it and make it something that works for you and your writing. I challenge you to create your own “what if” scenarios involving the technology in your own writing, whatever that might be. Have fun with it and see where it takes you. I guarantee it, the ride will be worth it.

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – July 25, 2017

It’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge again! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration to encourage creativity.

I post a writing prompt, or exercise, here each Wednesday. Follow the prompt precisely, or use it to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2017 edition, is nearly over. If you are participating, I hope things are going well for you. But whether you are, or not, there’s always room for a little inspiration. Once more the writing prompt this week comes from NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program Dare Machine. I dare you!

Include a piece of technology that goes berserk.

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

The Worst Birthday Party Ever

For this week’s writing prompt challenge, the dare was issued to send my characters to the worst party ever. Now several scenarios came to mind, none were quite as compelling as the birthday party I’ve already written for one of my middle grade novels. The book is written from the perspective of Mike Triplett who is the birthday boy.

The birthday party is hard enough for Mike, but for his twin sister AJ, it gets pretty awful. Between having to share her birthday with her brother and a baby sister who doesn’t recognize boundaries, things aren’t what AJ had hoped for. While this scene doesn’t belong in the novel, it seemed worthwhile to spend a little energy writing it anyway. I hope you enjoy it.

AJ’s Worst Party Ever

After the purple monstrosity of a cake, AJ didn’t think anything else could go wrong with her birthday party. And for all that, the cake wasn’t all bad. It was her favorite kind of cake on the inside, chocolate with raspberry filling. Her very best friends were here, and they would stay the night tonight. Her brother and his friends were leaving them alone, mostly. What could go wrong with what was left of the party?

“Time for presents!”

The shout rang out across the back yard and a dozen kids thundered into the family room where two piles of gifts sat waiting in the center of the floor. One pile was a tumble of blue, red and superheroes, while the other one had an overabundance of pink and white and unicorns. AJ wondered when everyone would realize she had long since grown out of unicorns.

“Pretty!”

Gabby made a mad dash for the pink pile, and before anyone could stop her, had snatched up a gift and run off with it, tearing the paper as she went.

“Gabriella! You get back here with that this instant!” Mother’s shout was about as futile as an umbrella in a hurricane.

Jonathan grabbed for the little girl, but Gabby jumped away with a shriek and a laugh. AJ could do little more than look on in horror as the contents of the package tumbled free of the gift wrap and landed right in Tommy’s lap.

Tommy held up an economy sized package of girls’ panties, and all the boys hooted in laughter. AJ only wanted to die and sink into the floor. Jonathan, seeing what it was, snatched it up and stormed out of the room.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher: A Review

With my writing obligations of late, I’ve fallen a bit behind on my reading obligations. I’m still reading, however and number two on my 2017 Reading Challenge list, is the category, “a book published last year.” Technically speaking, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher, was published two years ago, but I decided to stretch things a little for this book.

I’ve never read any of Jim Butcher’s books before this one, though I know he has two other ongoing series. My book club has often talked about his books, so I was somewhat familiar with him already. This book joined my list because I went to my friends on Twitter and asked for a recommendation for a book in the steampunk sub-genre, something I’d never read before. This book was recommended, and I am so glad I picked it up. I loved this book!

I love this quote on the back cover by David Weber, which sums the book up very nicely:

It’s steampunk meets magic with a dose of sci-fi for seasoning.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first book of The Cinder Spires, a new series by Jim Butcher. It features a Captain Grimm, formerly of the Fleet of Spire Albion. He now captains his own private vessel, working as a privateer, attacking and disrupting trade vessels of rival spires. His ship, however, is something special. It’s a fascinating combination of an old time sailing ship and a zeppelin style airship, but powered by special crystals rather than steam engines or wind. Though both are also possible in addition to the crystals.

The story opens with an amazing air battle scene between Captain Grimm’s Predator and a much larger trade vessel, and then an even larger battle cruiser. Butcher expertly draws the reader in and sets the story up to be an incredibly fun read. I was not disappointed.

Butcher’s action scenes have a cinematic feel, bringing the reader right into the action. So much so that I felt like I was right in the middle of it, seeing the action, feeling the wind on my face, watching the expressions of the characters change as they respond to what’s happening. There is one scene in particular that I will likely never forget. I’d share it, but I don’t want to spoil anything. You’ll just have to read the book!

The characters in this book are delightfully complex. Besides Captain Grimm, there is Benedict Sorellin, a warriorborn (what seems to be some sort of human and animal hybrid), his cousin, the Lady Gwendolyn Lancaster, a pair of etherealists who are very likely insane, and Bridget Tagwyn, a young woman of the lesser nobility. This group of mismatched individuals are sent on a mission to save the spire from the invading force of a rival spire.

Even the villains are fun to read. The rival armies are filled with honorable officers, some I can even sympathize with. The main villain at the heart of the worst treachery is great. She’s fabulously wicked, and someone I loved to hate. I am still intrigued by her, and want to know more about her motivations.

And let’s not forget one other significant member of the party of heroes, Rowl of the Silent Paws. Rowl is a cat, to whom the Lady Tagwyn (known to Rowl as Littlemouse) belongs. The relationship between cats and humans in this story is complicated. And absolutely wonderful. The cats in this story are brilliantly written and add an extra layer of fun.

This book is a truly great read. And, oh! What an ending! I look forward with great anticipation to the next book! In the meantime, I’m going to have to look into the other series written by Jim Butcher.

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – July 19, 2017

It’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge again! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration to encourage creativity.

Here’s your weekly writing prompt. Follow it precisely, or use it as a jumping off place to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

It’s the third week of Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2017 edition, and whether you are participating, or not, there’s always room for a little inspiration. The writing prompts for the month of July come from NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program Dare Machine. I dare you!

Send your characters to the worst party ever.

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Ideas, Road Construction & My Tuesday Commute

The Wednesday writing prompt challenge for this week was

Put your character in a situation you were in yesterday.

This prompt once again had me at loss. Put my characters into a situation I was in yesterday? My typical “yesterdays” aren’t all that exciting. However, when I started this weekly exercise, I made up my mind to take these prompts seriously, so I sat down to think about what I did “yesterday.”

It was a Tuesday. I went to work. My typical commute takes approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on traffic. I like to use the time to think about the novel I’m working on, the day ahead or whatever comes to mind. It’s a great opportunity to do some brainstorming. Though not always especially productive as I can’t write down my ideas while I’m driving.

Right now, there is road repair work going on along my usual commute, so I’ve been obliged to find an alternate route. The new route is taking the interstate through town. I don’t like driving on the freeway. I find it very stressful for me. As a result, I have less time to ponder the issues facing my fictional world while I drive.

Most of my novels don’t take place in a modern type setting with daily commutes and traffic issues. And in the ones that do, the characters are too young to drive, though they’d likely have a usual route to school.

Though I thought hard on it, I really began to suspect I would have no answer to this week’s prompt. But I got back to work on my novel anyway. It is Camp NaNoWriMo month, after all. And it turned out, I could put a road block in my novel after all. One of my characters must make a grand entrance into a major city, but the roadway is blocked by some sort of traffic mishap.

So, once again, my subconscious mind manages to make the seemingly random leap from writing prompt to novel progress. The writing prompt is what you make of it. It’s purpose is only to get the ideas flowing and words on the page.

Did you take the dare?

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – July 12, 2017

It’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge again! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration to encourage creativity.

I post a writing prompt, or exercise, here each Wednesday. Follow the prompt precisely, or use it to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

July is Camp NaNoWriMo, and whether you are participating, or not, there’s always a little room for inspiration. The writing prompts for the month of July come from NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program Dare Machine. I dare you!

Put a character in a situation you were in yesterday.

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!