What’s the next level for writing?


photo courtesy http://writingexercises.co.uk/random-image-generator.php


Writers and readers, would you like your books to be written at the next level? That is, written not by a human, but by an artificial intelligence?


Good, because it’s coming. It’s here.


Too bad, because soon robots will take writer’s jobs (everybody’s jobs).

In the meantime, here’s a website that lets you ease into a world without human fiction writers:


This site has a list of links (on the left side) which lets you generate “random” story elements, such as story titles, character descriptions, and dialogue.

I played around a bit, and here’s what I got:

Title: Poisoned Forest


Town Name: Tombminster


Character Name #1: Elaine Barnes (mixed and matched first / last names with Janice Wilkinson)

Character Description: A selfish 60 year-old woman

Traits: shy, unkind, materialistic

Job Title: Lighthouse Keeper

Character Name #2: Janice Wilkinson (mixed and matched first / last names with Elaine Barnes)

Character Description: A helpful 33 year-old woman

Traits:  idealistic, decisive, compassionate

Job Title: Surveyor


Quickie Plot:

The story begins in a church crypt
Someone mistakenly believes s/he has killed someone
It’s a story about learning from mistakes
Your character offers to lend a helping hand


Random Dialogue (hacked this a bit):

“You came back!”

“Please don’t argue. You have to leave right now, you aren’t safe here.”

“This isn’t just about you. It’s about what’s best for all of us.”


List of 3 Random Words:

education ghost coffin


List of 8 Random Words (more=merrier):



More intriguing random stuff (I forget which links I clicked):

The old house, with its wildly overgrown garden, was silent, secretive

An imaginative 66 year-old woman, who comes from a poor background, lives in a terraced house and tends to be a little clumsy.

A generous 33 year-old woman, who comes from a poor background, lives in a caravan and tends to drink too much.


So if you’re looking for story prompts, check it out. I’m going to put the above in a back burner folder and use it as a springboard for a future story, robots be damned. But in the meantime, feel free to jump on any of the random elements I found for your own stories.

Writer and multi-leveled castle-dweller Tom Merriman provided the theme for this post; thanks, Tom!

For a comprehensive list of partial and full stories, click here.

Signs of the INVASION

_CMS0076Drat! This one got me. I was completely caught off-guard.


_CMS0083Rampant animal-kissing. One of the prophesied signs of the INVASION. It’s in my cult’s holy book (visible only to me).


_CMS0088Mass casualties. An obvious sign of the INVASION.


_CMS0084What? Mough? What mough? Whatmough? An INVASION of WHATMOUGH!


_CMS0094The word “vegan” at a state fair. Yea! A hippie INVASION!


_CMS0095A solar power INVASION overthrows The Establishment! Gonna stick it to The Man!


_CMS0079The horns. We’re doomed.


_CMS0078Poor kid got a flesh-eating bacterial infection through a scape on his hand, probably.


_CMS0087An INVASION of bovine butts.


_CMS0096Sunflowers infected with sunspot slime.


_CMS0099Tomatoes infected with Joe DeWitt disease. They still look yummy, though.




_CMS0101This semi-infected bunch of greens was selling for 20 bucks. I spared you the photo of the fully-infected greens.


_CMS0104This is what GM pathogens do to a grape.


_CMS0110So I opted for a fried pickle instead, and spotted 2 furries and a green-faced zombie.


_CMS0086Charles Caleb Colton rose from the dead. He’s now a zombie. We had a nice chat about the anthology I’m in before I had to whack him with a shovel.


_CMS0093The Gideons were raptured in a rare reverse-INVASION.




_CMS0109Implements of threshing.

*_CMS0107And impalement.


_CMS0106Yes, we are experiencing an INVASION. But you may be able to save yourself…

In time for Halloween, Amazon has an anthology of 15 stories documenting the INVASION, including a story by yours truly!

Check it out: INVASION


Evidence Left Behind



I took the above photo in the front yard of my new location. I wear a size 10 shoe. This ectoplasm seems to be (mostly) inert.

After a month of transient awareness I regain full consciousness and find myself in another state, literally and figuratively. I strongly suspect absolutely know I was abducted by an extraterrestrial entity and returned to Earth many miles from my abduction location. Overall, I am happy with the experience, though my memories of the ordeal are fragmentary. I will post again next week, after I piece together the pieces. But now I must rest.

Questions for readers: Have you ever been abducted by extraterrestrials? Was the experience agreeable? Do you have any evidence?

Wind Turbine Destruction- a Flash Fiction Challenge

Here’s a Telegraph article about the incident.

Flashback- 2009: an unknown force mangles a wind turbine in Lincolnshire, UK.

Flash forward- 2011: your challenge is to write a flash fiction tale explaining the mysterious “wine turbine destruction” incident.

Did a UFO do it? Or maybe highly selective ice? How about a giant illuminated octopus?

What’s your explanation?

Genre- horror, science fiction, or fantasy.

Or if you actually KNOW what caused the incident, write a non-fiction explanation.

Oh yeah- of all the eligible* entries (excluding my own) I’ll select one at random as the prize winner. The prize? This T-shirt! (Available in blue, and in your choice of size, or a reasonable substitution if shirt is unavailable at time of winning. Must have Amazon.com account.)

*Eligible: Entries must have word count of 500 – 1000, and be a cohesive story or explanation of the “wind turbine destruction” incident referenced above. Post your entry on your blog, and link to it in the comments of this post. Deadline is next Friday at noon, EST, 12-16-11. EXTENDED to SATURDAY at NOON, EST, 12-31-11! WOW! I’ll be posting my entry here by then.

Here’s mine:

Spin, Baby, Spin!

“Attention Earth base, this is Svigz base, do you receive?”

“Yes, Svigz base. This is Earth base, we receive. We are ready for your next instruction.”

“Excellent. We will transmit your instruction, but first we have some bad news. The conditions on Svigz have further deteriorated. We regret to inform you that Svigz is at war. Our entire planet. Our worst fears are coming true, as prophesized. The carbon in Svigz’s atmosphere is nearly depleted, and Svigzians are suffocating by the hundreds of thousands. We must transport our top officials, dignitaries, and wealth-holders immediately.”

“Oh the Svigzianity! Why didn’t we listen to our prophets? The science was there all along!”

“Pure Svigzian greed, my friend. But we’ve no time to dwell on our foibles. Is Earth ready for the Svigzian transport?”

“Only in the areas heavily populated by the dominant Earth life forms.”

“You mean the dominant life forms aren’t dead yet?”

“Not all of them.”

“What about the under-populated areas? The atmospheric carbon isn’t at a high enough level?”

“Not yet, but many of the moderately populated areas are reaching acceptable carbon levels.”


“But there’s a problem.”

“What? Dead Earthlings are piling up faster than you can burn them?”

“No. Some of the dominant life forms are starting to slow the production of atmospheric carbon emissions. Some are even switching from oil and coal power to geothermal and solar power.”

“No. That can’t be. Not after all the probes we put into the hydrocarbon and war industries. Are the probes malfunctioning?”

“No, they’re working at top efficiency, and have recruited the vast majority of the dominant life forms on Earth. But the worst development is that some of the highly intelligent Earthlings are switching to spin power.”

“What’s spin power?”

“It’s carbon-free and peaceful. I’ve researched it, and as far as I can tell, it uses Earth’s temperature differentiations to produce energy. The differentiations cause the atmosphere to shift over the Earth’s surface, and the resulting energy is captured by giant, elevated spinning blades. It’s horrible. The spinning blades not only produce carbon-free energy, they hypnotize the rest of the dominant life forms into making even more blade spinners. Soon Earth will be covered with giant, rotating, carbon-free energy machines. We’re doomed!”

“Did you hit the spinners with the plasmic octo-ice ray?”

“The ice ray doesn’t work so well on Earth. We only managed to temporarily disable one of those nasty spinny things. But now there are ten in its place.”

“We can’t give up yet.”

“But what can we do? The Earthlings keep making more spinny things.”

“We’ve no choice but to reactivate our Palin probe.”

“But the Palin already announced it would not seek presidential status!”

“Excellent. The Palin’s fan base will undoubtedly see the reversal as a display of maverick behavior. They’ll love it. And make sure Palin gets a bravery award this time. Tack a bravery pin on Palin’s wealth lapel, right under the USA flag pin. The USA-ers value bravery up there with myth-worship and wealth-worship.”

“Understood. But how do we secure the Palin’s award?”

“Plant a youtube video of Palin shooting wolves from helicopters. That will guarantee a bravery award. It worked for our Vick probe.”


Happy Holidays, readers!

Doing my part to promote lovely wind turbine energy,


Halloween / Zombie Survival Guide

photo by David Shankbone

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived the REAL, FINAL APOCALYPSE as predicted by Harold Camping. (Turns out Camping isn’t much of a math person.) Now you probably think you can enjoy Halloween without the nagging worry of undead, unraptured zombies stalking and infecting you. (As for me- I knew I would survive the non-apocalypse, because I’m already one of the undead.) But before you get too comfortable, I gotta tell you zombies are real . .

For any late-comers to my blog, take a gander at my 3-part story: I got the zombie spores in me.  Then the zombie spores turned me into a zombie. Did you know zombies can re-generate limbs? Yep. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be typing this now. And those already familiar with the above trilogy would do well to re-familiarize yourselves, because . .

If you still think my tales are safely in the sci-fi section . .

Think again.

And with all the catastrophic climate change, nuclear radiation, pesticides, and herbicides causing mutations in the already genetically engineered spores accidentally / on purposely released into the open fields, human zombie spores are just around the corner.

STILL don’t believe me? Then believe the USA government’s official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s real. All we can do is prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the resulting mob cruelty and mass disrespect.

And console ourselves with candy.

To stock up on good karma, here’s a list of the most cow-kind, most chicken-respectful (vegan)* cookies and candy** on the USA market, alphabetized by brand:


Airheads Taffy

Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins

Anna’s Ginger Thins


Back to Nature California Lemon Cookies

Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Big League Chew Gum

Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy

Brach’s Orange Slices

Brach’s Root Beer Barrels

Brach’s Star Brites

Bremner Wafers


Charms lollipops

Chew-ets Peanut Chews (Original)


Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar

Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar

Cracker Jacks

Cry Babies


Dem Bones


Dum Dums


Entenmann’s Fudge Delights Fudge & Mint Cookies

Everest Gum


Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Oatmeal Macaroon)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate


Food Lion Animal Cookies

Food Lion Ginger Snaps

Food Lion Oatmeal Cookies

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Assorted)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Creme)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Fudge)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Double Creme-O’s)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Duplex)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Mini Chocolate & Vanilla Cremes)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Food Lion Sugar Cookies

Fruit By the Foot


Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Mix

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Original)

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes


Hubba Bubba Bubblegum

Hubba Bubba Gum

Hunt’s Snack Pack Gel Snacks


Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)




Keebler Vienna Fingers

Kool-Aid Gels

Kozy Shack Jammin’ Gels


Lance Choc-O Cookies

Lance Peanut Bar

Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)

Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)

Lance Van-O Lunch Cookies

Landgarten Pumpkin Seed Snack – Dark Chocolate




Mary Janes (Regular and Peanut Butter Kisses)

Mike and Ike

Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Crème-filled Cookies

Murray Butter Cookies

Murray Cinnamon Grahams

Murray Coconut Bars

Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies


Nabisco Double Delight Mint’n Creme Oreos

Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Nabisco Halloween Oreos

Nabisco Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

Nabisco Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cones

Nabisco Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps

Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies

Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)

Nabisco Uh-oh Oreos, Spring Oreos, Chocolate Creme Oreos

Nature’s Path Deep Chocolate Cookies

Nature’s Path Ginger Spice Cookies

Nature’s Path Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints

Now and Later

Nutter Butter Bites


Panda Licorice

Pure De-Lite Coconut Bars


Safeway Fudge Mint Fudge Covered Mint Cookies

Skittles’ Mints

Smarties (U.S. version only)

SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sour Patch Kids

Super Bubble

Swedish Fish

SweeTarts (regular)




VeganSweets marshmallows

Velamints Mints


Whole Foods Organic Chocolate Truffles



*List complied from PETA and PETAKIDS.

**May contain trace amount of animal-sourced ingredients.

Hopefully I’ve provided you with the resources and information you need to make it through Halloween alive . . or at least undead, thanks to a sugar OD . .




And here’s a creepy, campy, rockabilly bonus video for those who skimmed through to the bitter . . or rather, sugary end.

Have a Happy Halloween (while you can)!

Writing Wrongs

“Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear that is inherent in the human situation.” -Graham Greene

A traumatic event in your life will activate the visual cortex and limbic system in your brain- the areas which control emotions and the bodily manifestations of emotions. In turn, this deactivates your brain’s speech-production centers. So an image of the trauma is imprinted into your brain, and the memory of the trauma will seem to be incompatible with language. “There are no words to describe what I’ve experienced,” is a common lament of people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. By forcing a connection between the traumatic event and language, the memory of the event is encoded differently in the brain. This language-centered encoding is often the first step to healing trauma and depression.

Writing therapy is the recording of words for the purpose of emotional healing.

Write a poem                                                            expressing your phobia 

Keep a journal                                                             about your crappy job

Start a book                                                            addressing past abuse

Try some free-association                                                            exploring anxiety

Commit to a diary                                                            to vent at the end of a day

Write a letter                                                             about a failed relationship

It doesn’t matter much what form the writing takes, or if anyone else ever sees the writing. It’s the act of writing itself that is healing. Some people prefer a free-form approach to writing therapy. Others prefer a structured approach:

“Writers can treat their mental illnesses every day.” -Kurt Vonnegut

0.999… = 1 ?!


A few days ago I read an article about math-comprehension enhancement through electrical stimulation of the brain. I saw the word “dycalculia.” Oddly enough, I think that was the first time I had seen that word (Wiki’s “Dyscalculia” page has been heavily edited since I wrote this post, and now gives little useful info about dyscalculia. I am, however, leaving the link as I am fairly confident the information will be corrected and expanded.) even though I now know I am dyscalculic. I did some research, and now my life-long math anxiety makes sense. Dyscalculics are people across the IQ range who, regardless of traditional schooling, don’t have a solid sense of numbers or how they interact. Dyscalculics also usually have difficulty mentally fixing their own bodies in space, interpreting spacial relationships in general, and ordering events in time.

School was surrealistic for me. In grade school I was at the top of my class in reading and spelling. But I struggled with multiplication tables. I simply could not memorize them, even under the threat of a paddling in front of the class. I was always the last in my class to finish in-class math assignments. On the school bus, I would ricochet off the seat edges while walking the aisle. I learned to tell time well after the other kids, and I took remedial math classes during the summer. My piano teacher was embarrassingly kind. She every week she sat through 50 minutes of  1-minute songs that each took me about 5 minutes to play. I didn’t understand how the dots and lines and spaces on the music sheets fit the keys on the piano.


In high school, I flourished with vocabulary and reading comprehension, but math was rotten. In algebra, I used the same pre-filled-out “show your work” paper for each homework assignment when the teacher walked the aisles to check our homework.  He would always pause at my desk while I sunk in my seat. But he always wordlessly moved on. I frequently forgot the order of my classes and my locker combination. Running a straight line for track practice was impossible. In chemistry, my teacher went to grandiose lengths explaining the definition of a “mole.” To this day I have no working conception of it, even after re-reading its definition. My chemistry tutor patiently re-explained how to set up and calculate chemical equations every week until we both gave up.

In college I took what was described as a basic math class. The professor spent the first couple weeks teaching matrixes without quizzing the class. I tried to mentally pound the numbers into my brain, but they would crash and smash instead. The look of utter confusion on my face was so obvious, the professor called me into his office and asked me why I wasn’t “getting it.” I didn’t have an answer, so I dropped the class and finally swore off math for good.

Now, as an adult? . . I can’t immediately recall my own telephone number without the act of writing it. I still sometimes forgot how to do basic division and still transpose numbers. The few money-handling jobs I’ve had were nightmares. I don’t drive. I don’t think I’ll ever write another check. Hotels and shopping centers spontaneously morph into mazes, and I don’t know north from a hole in the ground. Even though I have perfect vision, I still sometimes run into walls while turning corners, or trip on chair legs. Keeping score in card games is baffling. I love science- except for the math parts. I know math is the language of the universe. Math is magic. But I’m not a magician.

I used to think I was just “numbers lazy.” That if I just tried hard enough, I would “get it.” Now I am relieved to know it’s not laziness, but a physical brain difference. Dyscalculics are often strong in language, perhaps to compensate for their math deficiencies; or perhaps the same mechanism which weakens math ability strengthens language ability. I don’t “get” the language of the universe, but I revel in my own language. I think I wouldn’t change a thing.

0.999… = 1 ?!