Happy National Handwriting Day!

In honor of National Handwriting Day (in the U.S.), I give you Meg’s treatise on “Cursive” from Gen:

Tish and Meg dropped in that Fiveday evening after rotations. Meg brought several pencils and a stack of her own paper, too, to give Tish and me our first lesson in cursive writing. I would have tubed over to their place again, gladly, but they both sensed I was uncomfortable around Raf. While I appreciated their efforts I felt guilty, too. I shouldn’t have been hiding from him. And traveling together like this, the two of them would be an easier target for anyone who might want to follow.

Tish would die first before letting anything happen to her grand-M. Or me, for that matter. But, there was absolutely zero reason to put either of them in danger like this. Meg was only a few years younger than her half-sister, Simma, after all, and while RejuV and bio supplements could work wonders, there was no sense needlessly taxing her aging frame.

Meg worked us for hours on the basics of the old alphabet system. We ruled out baselines and practiced writing pairs of magiscules and miniscules, and struggled through assorted ascenders, descenders and x-height strokes. The old-style mechanical pencils seemed fragile and the graphite tips snapped off frequently. We had to stop often and resharpen them with a little metal blade-thing. It was all very tiresome.

“A stylus would hold up better,” Tish complained.

She couldn’t quite get the point of it all. So Meg gave us a lecture, just like a Tutor from Lessons.

“Cursive writing activates neural systems related to the perception of complex shapes,” she explained. “It’s called pattern recognition and is what’s left of a survival mechanism we developed long ago to distinguish friend from foe. As a species, we don’t look all that different, after all. Everyone has two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth. And usually in the same places, too. But even from afar, we can spot a friend in a crowd coming off a crosstown tube, say, or pouring out of a busy skyhook exit. Even if you haven’t seen them in some time, or they have new clothes, or dark glasses and a hat, you can still usually pick them out. Humans became very good at recognizing these subtle clues and we continued to evolve that part our brain for other complex visual tasks, including the ability to recognize word-patterns in cursive writing, which served societies for thousands of years.”

“But really, Grand-M, cursive is too confusing,” Tish complained. “Sometimes the letters are connected to each other, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes a space means a new word but other times it doesn’t. It hurts my wrist, too, and my writing gets so sloppy I can’t even recognize what I’ve written half the time. Besides which, Old English isn’t my strong suit.”

“Its rarity is its strength,” Meg soothed. “Don’t worry. With practice it will come to you more easily. And in the end, you’ll have your own personal, recognizable hand.”

“But if someone can recognize my writing,” Tish argued, “then why com like this at all? Same with typing. It’s molecules, after all. Someone could intercept it. Read it. Maybe even know who wrote it. Electrons would be better. At least electrons I can hide.”

Meg seemed to mull this over.

“Perhaps a secret identity would be the safest thing,” I joked.

“I can make you anonymous, if you’d like,” Tish said, bragging in her matter-of-fact way.

“But is anyone ever really anonymous, anymore?” I asked, dubious.

I can make you anonymous,” she repeated, with emphasis.

Illustration of a mythical dragon

The Water Worlds series (so far)

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GEN, Water Worlds 4, is PUBLISHED!

Dear friends and fans,

Thank you so much! To date, the WATER WORLDS science fiction adventure series as a whole has been downloaded nearly 25,000 times on Amazon and read over 250,000 times on Wattpad!

And now the adventure continues with book 4, GEN.

GEN is Harry Potter without the magic, but with hard science and strong, smart women characters. And Mars! It’s Hunger Games without the bows and arrows, but with graphene masks and syntel implants. It’s The Martian but for young adults and the young at heart and takes place in the year 2210 on a Mars so familiar you’d think you’d lived there all your life. And did I mention cannibals? If so, I’ve said too much.

GEN goes On Sale Today! Jan 22, 2016

http://www.amazon.com/Gen-ebook/dp/B01AINPXMI/

And to celebrate, I’m making book 1, YOUNG MOON free for the Kindle (or the free Kindle app) on Amazon this weekend! If you like the series, please help me spread the word. Now would be a great time for fans of good scifi and adventure stories to check out the series.

YOUNG MOON is FREE Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday Jan. 24, 2016

http://www.amazon.com/Young-Moon-ebook/dp/B005P94EMQ/

Thanks for reading and for supporting independent authors!

H.S.

Jan. 2016

http://WaterWorlds.me

———-

From the beta readers comments for Gen:

H: Wow, absolutely incredible detail. This is almost exactly how I’d picture humanity on Mars. I’m speechless.

P: As always, enraptured by how perfectly the threads of the stories are woven in this series — just beautifully told through some of the best young adult characterizations I have read. I never want this series to end.

C: Yay book 4. So glad it’s here. Another great read, thank you.

F: Thank you for a most interesting story. I’ve been following your gals from the start. Your stories are well written and just plain fun to read.

N: Fantastic! I got goosebumps, great work!

Illustration of a mythical dragon

Gen, Water Worlds 4

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Water Worlds Rolling Countdown Kindle Book Spring Sale

It’s time for the Water Worlds Rolling Countdown Kindle Book Spring Sale!
http://amzn.to/1DzBZmW

Young Moon, book 1 in my Water Worlds sci-fi adventure series, is on sale today for just 99 cents. That’s 2 bucks off! Tomorrow it’ll be $1.99 and then back to its regular price of $2.99 on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sami, book 2, goes on sale for 2 bucks off too, and on Thursday, Simma, book 3. All in celebration of Spring and the forthcoming release of book 4, Gen. So this is a great time to jump in, save money and check out the post-Apophis worlds I’m creating,

Not sure you’d like a sci-fi adventure series? Read the first couple of chapters and check out the Amazon reviews at the link below. I’ve got nothing to hide. 😉

Remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle ebook. Get a free copy of the Kindle Reader app for any device or platform here:
http://amzn.to/1Dp4W1H

And visit the Water Worlds Web site to learn more:
http://WaterWorlds.me

Thanks for reading! The commercial is now over.

H.S.

YMKindleCountdown

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Congrats to the YA Spring Fling Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the YA Spring Fling Giveaway!

This year over 70 talented YA authors gave away multiple copies of over 100 individual titles. There were signed paperbacks, copies of audiobooks and swag, too, in this year’s giveaway.

And while not all of the thousands who entered were able to win, an enormous amount of fun was had by all. We owe a big thanks to organizer Sarah Dalton. Check out her stories on her site.

And my sincere thanks to all who entered to win a copy of my books. I love you all!

H.S.

Spring Fling

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Drivers Prohibited from Driving “By Hand” in Driverless Cars?

Regarding Elon Musk’s interesting comments about the possible outlawing of driving by hand someday, as recently reported in the Verge: http://www.theverge.com/transportation/2015/3/17/8232187/elon-musk-human-drivers-are-dangerous
I offer this humble prediction from Young Moon.

The year, 2027, Beijing:

Our car was a brand new Hundred Clicker, and it really could go a full hundred kilometers without a recharge. The car breathed, like people. It ran on compressed air and actually filtered the smog as it sucked air into the piston chamber, and then blew it out. With every breath in and out, the air tank would re-pressurize, but just a bit less than before, until the pressure ran down completely and the air tank had to be pumped up again. You could pump it by hand with a bicycle pump in an emergency, and it would take you a few kilometers, but you needed a real compressor to charge it back to full.

Mother and I were very proud of it but Father thought it was too small for us. He thought anything smaller than a house wasn’t safe on Chinese roads, but the entire length of the Eighth Outer Ring Road was automatic by law, so there was hardly ever an accident. And deaths were way down since that drunk-driving accident on Ring Road Four was caught by surveillance cameras.

The full decapitation was shown without edits all across the Record. There should have been a warning for younger people, but I think secretly they really wanted everyone to watch, especially children. It scared me when I watched it, and I was nearly twelve by then.

Highway accident deaths went down almost immediately, and with only autocars allowed in City Centre, there was much less congestion in Beijing than ever before. Still, the air in town was thick and brown and often smelled like chemicals.

[And this bit takes place a few years later, in the U.S.:]

I looked into the other cars as we passed them, one by one. Families, couples, people alone. I couldn’t believe a major artery like this still wasn’t a dedicated autoroute. America was the last place on Earth where driving by hand was romanticized into an obsession. It was a dangerous way to think.

But what did it matter now?

Cars from every exit piled onto the highway behind and beside us, joining the evacuation headed out of the city. About forty minutes out, the highway narrowed and traffic began to slow and then start, and stop again. We crested a hill and saw the brake lights of vehicles spread before us for a kilometer at least.

-H.S.
WaterWorlds.me

Illustration of a mythical dragon

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The World in Her Room

The World in Her Room – from Gen, Chapter 3:

The door slid closed behind me with a whoosh, and my World smeared into focus.

A cockpit of colorful floating images surrounded me, flashing and competing for my attention. I set the juice on the side table and threw myself on the wide, comfortable bed.

It enveloped me with deep softness at first, then plumped firm, the way I liked it. I punched up several pillows for support, and scanned the feed.

To my right, a string of glyphs displayed recent coms. The few new messages were unimportant and could wait. I swept them to the side.

A list of upcoming amusements scrolled in place to my left. There was nothing of interest, so I dismissed it with a flick.

News was the same old boring talktalktalk. Politics on Mars and War on Earth. As usual. D didn’t like me to wave in the news from Earth, but he was powerless to stop me. Besides, it annoyed him, so I just had to.

The weather glyph pulsed red in the most ominous and annoying way. But I made a point of ignoring it. I always saved weather for last.

My calendar was clear for the evening and my biorhythm graphed out physical and intellectual highs. But a glowing amber dot showed I was just one hour past a emotional low.

Could’ve guessed that, I told myself.

My rating hovered at a respectable but stagnant sixty-three, while my horoscope showed Earth trine Jupiter, with Earth ascendant.

Ah! An expansive aspect, I thought. It was the first good news of the evening.

Finally I poked at the weather. It had been a sunny day in Mie Crater, with temps reaching into the minus teens and air pressure at ground level pushing three hundred millibars. Both were dropping now as evening approached. In the Dome, of course, it was a comfortable twenty-two. Always was.

But a dust storm was bubbling up in Hellas Basin in the Southern Hemisphere, and Live Eyes were posted to keep watch, in case it spilled out. The sands, roiling and twisting in place, looked alive, somehow, and I watched the sim a second time, captivated. Raw Mars was once again proving his unpredictability.

“Imp,” I said aloud, “Am I missing anything?”

Her soft voice spoke in my left ear.

No Gen. You have it all.

“Thank you,” I said, and waved the cockpit away.

Now I can take a breath and just calm, I thought.

“Color!” I spoke.

A vibrant spectrum bar spread before me, offering a near-infinite gradation of hues, tints and shades. I felt better instantly. Bright colors always improved my mood.

Colors are medicine, you know, and there’s an art to color healing. My friends told me I was good at it, and one thing was certain this evening: I needed to weave some calm into my life.

An array of my favorite swatches fanned alive as I poked around in the blue range, then floated nearby patiently in neat little stacks. I reached out and touched Ocean Blue. It felt wet on my fingertip as the walls of my room darkened into a deep, velvety blue-green. I slid up the brightness for a high-tone pastel, admired the effect, then lifted my glass and took a sip.

The sweetness of the juice filled my senses. I held the clear glass with the rich orange liquid up to the bright aqua walls, and tilted it slightly, enjoying the contrast.

A thin gray line danced between the colors like a force field, preventing them from touching. It was the fate of all simultaneous opposites.

You grew those carrots, I reminded myself, smiling at last. Harvested and juiced them, too. Then composted the pulp and replanted the seeds.

The thought gave me comfort. I was proud and claimed ownership. I made something! Something of substance. Despite D’s teasing, I felt anything was possible, even here on dusty old, dry old Mars.

H.S.
WaterWorlds.me

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 12.18.11 PM

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A piece of wisdom from Gen

A piece of wisdom from Gen:

“I never believed in ghosts. Those who did, I felt, were either young or ignorant. But I did believe there was some sort of, well, quality in stone that could record our presence. I reasoned that, if the layers of rock around us were thick enough to absorb and protect against the very smallest waves the universe could throw at us — the really nasty radiation from Sol and from extra-solar gamma ray bursters — if they could do all that, maybe they could absorb other vibrations, too.

Everything physical vibrates, after all. At the smallest scales, impossibly tiny wavelets bind the very fabric of our universe, and the nonlocal multiverse beyond. We know that now. But for generations it was only a theory, until we learned how to detect them.

It just made sense that coarser waves — those that cause the air around us to vibrate our cochlea, say, or bounce speeding photons into our retina — that these, too, must penetrate and be absorbed by the rock that surrounds us. And even with a near-total rate of decay over time, no matter how infinitesimally small the remaining part of the wave, it was a positive amount. Some minuscule piece of it had to be locked up in the stone. Our sensors just weren’t smart enough to detect it yet.

This town, these worn steps, this smoothed wall, had rubbed against quite a few people since the first days on Mars. And those moments were here, unable to escape, trapped just as firmly as the native methanogens locked up in Utopia’s northern sedimentary deposits, lost for eons until we evolved from the same primordial ooze and flew here in bubbles of metal and moist air to become aware of them.

Given time, one day some clever someone would probably discover how to play back the past from the waves left behind. Just like the old grooved record in Simma’s museum of a library, in the room carved out of solid rock seven levels below the Martian surface.

But maybe for now, and maybe for always, humans were the best detectors, evolved over vast time to sense the minutest waves, even if it didn’t always register in the conscious mind.

My hair stood on end just thinking about it.

Somehow, I understood this stone.”

H.S.

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