Tag Archive for free

Emotion Field

American Mythology: superhero underdogs

I saw a question on Twitter: Can readers become emotionally invested in a story if the main character is interesting but not sympathetic? My answer was that I need characters that I can care about. A superhero that has all kinds of cool and interesting superpowers is ultimately boring unless there is an emotional narrative that I can care about. I think the most important answer an author can give to their readers in the first few pages (or paragraphs) of their book is why they should care enough to read more? And that answer is always why the reader should care. I find that caring about sympathetic characters is easier than for villains, no matter how interesting those villains are. I can go for a story about a young kid who grows up to be a villain because the world forces him to become one — he wasn’t born evil, he was made to be. Villany was forced on an innocent soul in order to survive. But this just means that I’m reading a tragedy. There are lots of different types of stories. It’s never about the genre. Science fiction is just fantasy wrapped up in fancy techtalk. Romance…

Memory Strings


Our lives are filled with objects and memories we collect on our journeys. It is almost like there are strings of emotions that tie us to our lives’ cabinet of curiosities. It is almost uncanny how stepping into someone’s house and seeing their possessions and their arrangement to each other tell a story of that person’s life. We can make a lot of very accurate guesses about the personalities, passions, and drives of the people by how and with what they choose to surround themselves with in their own homes. A small antique toy found in a little Paris shop, a newspaper clipping posted to the refrigerator that is a reminder of a funny incident from childhood, a giant salad bawl that had to sit on the lap for the six-hour flight home, a cute sweater that is too small but was once borrowed from a dear friend, a book that made a difference during dark times, even a little button that sits alone for over a decade waiting for the discovery of the item of clothing it belongs to — all the strange little collections of flotsams that accumulate over the course of daily living that become dear to…

Holiday Thread


I follow an Iranian woman on Instagram that demonstrates in short videos her embroidery techniques. She does beautiful work — intricate flowers, leaves, curlycues, snowflakes. Her pigment choices are amazing and she does very detailed art in that multicolored thread. I know how to sew and I had a vague idea of how to embroider — I mean I can pull off a flower or a leaf if I had to. But my “knowledge” of embroidery comes from extrapolating what I know about sewing and guessing at the rest. But this woman is actually a master of this skill. And by watching her for a few seconds here and there doing her art, I realized that thread conservation is an important part of embroidery! Not only is beautiful thread expensive (e.g. gold thread), but the bulk that would be added to the material by doing the design on both sides would be awkward. Double-sided embroidery would mess up the delicate expression of the final piece of art. So there is more to this skill than I realized at first blush. Many crafts require expertise that is hidden from casual view. In many cases, the achievement of effortless grace is anything…

2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition

Writing is a very solitary activity. You sit alone for hours, lost in your own thoughts, hopefully putting some words down on a page. And at some point, if you are lucky, you will finish a story you set out to write or, more accurately, you will finish a story that came out as a surprise and not at all what you expected. So far, I have managed to do this repeatedly. And some of my stories went on to win competitions. So today I will write about one such competition — the very first Self-Published Fiction Competition! 300 books. 10 blogs (judges). It will take a full year to determine one supreme winner, but a few quarter-finalists have already been selected. Yours truly has made the list of quarter-finalists with Harvest. You can read more about books from my block of Book Blog of Judges at Tar Vol on. The SPSFC trophy is pretty cool, too… This is not the first time I have participated in such competitions. I entered God of Small Affairs into a similar competition but for fantasy, SPFBO. It earned a semi-finalist status: So here’s hoping for another success! In the meantime, writers that are…

Of Marshmallows and Masks

Marshmallow Test

Most everyone in my family, most of our friends, and a lot of our neighbors have received at least one COVID vaccination shot! It is starting to feel like this year-long nightmare is winding down. And we are lucky to live in the right country and in the right state and in the right city where things are likely to get back to normal sooner rather than later. No one can deny that this had been a very difficult year. But part of the difficulty had been our own behavior. It is quite possible that if we heeded the science and recommendations from the doctors (not the politicians), we would have been here sooner with fewer lives lost and less devastation to our economy. So why didn’t we do all we could to arrest the progress of this devastating disease? Why did we take stupid risks? Why did some people refuse to wear masks and self-isolate? Well, consider the Marshmallow Test. In brief, a Marshmallow Test is an experiment that tries to measure the delayed gratification quotient. A child is given a marshmallow (or any other small but highly desired reward) and asked to wait alone in the room with…

Thoughts on Love

dog adopts kittens ABC 15 Arizona

What’s the main difference between humans and other animal mothers? It’s a strange question, I know. But give it some thought. We all watch videos of cute baby animals and their mothers online. We have all seen cross-species “adoptions” — ducks and that raise kittens; dogs that nurture bunnies; even lions that take in baby antelopes to rear. Humans obviously do that too — we love kittens and puppies and other baby animals and routinely raise them and talk about our pets as if they are our children. But there is a difference. And no, it’s not that other animals don’t tend to take on pets — the luxury of sharing food and shelter in the wild is just that — a luxury. There is something else. We have two grown sons, both in graduate schools. Clearly adults, right? But my emotions towards them are the same as when they were but babies. I don’t see adult men, I see the entire history of their lives before me. I hear the cries they made when they fell and got hurt or when they were sick and not feeling well. I remember their outrageous fibs and reasons why they can’t eat…

Schrodinger Moments

schrodinger moments

Schrodinger Moments: During these very difficult (emotionally) times, I just wanted to point out that we all live in-between potentialities, surfing along waves of possibilities and probabilities. And as humans, we really really suck at this.