Keith Minnion and I will be signing books at the Book Dragon Shop (Staunton, VA) today from 1-230PM. I should have most of my books there for sale. Stop by and chat!
Click below for details:
For the second year in a row, I’m donating production of a 30-minute audiobook as a prize to the Interactive Fiction Competition (IFComp). The description is:
A short (up to 5000 words or 30 minutes) audiobook of a story by the author
Includes pre-production, narration (by the donor), and post-production of your story, with music intro & outro, suitable for distribution through Author’s Republic to platforms such as Audible and iTunes. Must be claimed within one year.
IFComp’s winners will be announced in mid-November. See their schedule.
The Interactive Fiction Competition is a 27-year-strong contest sponsored by the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization for the preservation of interactive fiction. Interactive fiction (IF) is the genre of text-driven digital games and stories such as parsers and game books.
Each year, they solicit donations to the contest. These consist of cash to the “Colossal Fund,” which is awarded to contest winners, plus services from the prize pool such as editing, publicity, content creation, gift certificates, games, books, magazines — and, in this case, an audiobook production. There is no fee to enter.
I’m competing for my second time in this outstanding contest. I would also like to give something cool to the IF community, as well as pad my CV of audio work.
With all that said, best of luck to my fellow competitors, and I hope to work with one of you soon! And to the general public, keep an eye on the IFComp website for this year’s entries, and vote, vote, vote!
Coffin Bell: a journal of dark literature has published my flash short story, “Tea Party.” Please click here to read it.
Here’s a fun fact. This story was inspired by a writing prompt from Theatrefolk, with a cool picture of the floating tea party set. I’m attaching it here for your enjoyment.
I’ve linked up some additional audiobook retailers from the Sizzle book page. Here’s where you can find the book now:
Still on the fence? Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes:
JUHYO is a bridge-style game for 2-4 players where the suits are monsters from all over the world. Click the below picture to play!
The audiobook of my first children’s book, Sizzle: The Cat Hub Adventures, Book 1 is now available on Amazon along with the eBook. I wrote Sizzle last year to entertain my kids. It’s about our cats and an opossum named Sizzle who used to visit our deck last summer. In the story, our cats must help Sizzle rescue his mother from an old man who wants to mount her for display.
In the meantime, here is a sample from one of my favorite scenes:
I’ve programmed a new online game, the Collaborative Story Generator, that allows you to trade sentences or words with a computer to write a story. The game uses the text generation API at DeepAI, described as follows:
The text generation API is backed by a large-scale unsupervised language model that can generate paragraphs of text. This transformer-based language model, based on the GPT-2 model by OpenAI, intakes a sentence or partial sentence and predicts subsequent text from that input.
DeepAI is a fascinating website normally used by researchers to mine data. It was fun to adapt one of its tools for this.
Here’s the transcript of a recent game I played:
Mode Selected: Trade sentences
You: I just programmed a game in which you can collaborate on a story with an artificial intelligence.
I think that's great in any way.
You: It works by talking to deepai.org.
I don't know if it works by talking to humans, and maybe it shouldn't.
You: Well, at the beginning, humans programmed it, but I’m confident they are not controlling the interactions at this point.
I am just curious if you can convince them that artificial intelligence is a better solution than I believe there should be.
You: Some people are resistant of the idea of it, but maybe games like this will encourage them to think otherwise.
A quick disclaimer here.
You: Computers are not sentient.
But if they are so, they are intelligent.
You: Some people confuse sentience with intelligence, and I think they are two distinct concepts.
A little background information:
You: I like to program things for fun, and that’s why I made this game.
I have found that interacting with computers is interesting and often helpful.
You: When they work well, the results can be spooky.
I don't make any money from people that send me "games.
You: And why should I?
The idea of games with smart algorithms and intelligent gameplay is all too popular with children right now.
About this time last year, a baby opossum used to visit our deck to steal cat food. Our boys, then aged 8 and 10, loved it. They nicknamed him Sizzle and enjoyed his interactions with our cats: Moody, Shadow, and Buttercup. We started spinning a yarn about how our cats might help Sizzle find his lost mother. So I wrote it up into a 9700-word novelette for the boys’ amusement. I read it to them one day while their mom dyed their hair — because what else are you going to do during a pandemic lockdown?
I’m not sure where to sell a story of that length for upper-elementary aged children, but the good publisher at MW Publications stepped in to help. You can get the eBook edition of Sizzle: The Cat Hub Adventures, Book 1 for just $1.00. An audiobook edition, narrated by me (in better voices than the ones I used last year) is in the can and should be out soon.
The cover art, featuring a photo we took of Sizzle, and purchase link are attached. Enjoy!
Sizzle, an opossum, and Mama are foraging one day when a man captures Mama. This man, Crackle Fingers, runs a taxidermy business out of his house, and he plans to add Mama to his collection. Sizzle turns to a family of cats for help. Shadow, a talkative black cat, invites Sizzle to eat from the family’s food bowl on a backyard deck. Moody is a senile but kind tabby, and Buttercup is an overweight and overprotective orange cat. In order to befriend the cats and rescue Mama, he’ll have to rely on his intelligence and ingenuity.
Thanks to Film Sensei of the HitFilm Community, I had a voiceover role in their collaborative short film, Quantum Stumble. My role was Blue Leader Edward “Eagle” Johnson, who can be heard irritably calling out space battle attack formations starting about 8:49 into the film.
Quantum Stumble is a fan film sendup to the old television show Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula. Enjoy!
Autonomous Press has accepted my horror/scifi story, “Diary of the Cryonic Pharaoh,” for fall publication in Spoon Knife 6: Rest Stop. The anthology’s theme is “transitional spaces/times/experiences,” which fits this story perfectly. More details as I have them!