H.A.L.F.

An insightful and well written review. I appreciate the insight here ūüôā

LITERARY TITAN

The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F., #1)

H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.

Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep…

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#JeanBookNerd tour for #HALFTheMakers book 2 in @NatalieWright #ya #scifi series with #review and #giveaway

Blog tour is almost over. Only one more day to enter the big giveaway!

Mama Reads Blog

h-a-l-f-the-makers-official-tour-banner
the-makers
Synopsis 

Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.

You‚Äôve seen the aliens known as ‚Äúthe Greys‚ÄĚ in movies and on T.V. But what if everything you think you know about them is wrong?

And what if the Greys are only the beginning?

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from the underground lab and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay?

On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the…

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Manic Monday: Colorado Students School the School Board on Democracy and Fight Back Against ‘Big Brother’

1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell

One of my all-time favorite books is¬†1984¬†(Signet Classics)¬†by¬†George Orwell. You like dystopian? Now that’s dystopian!¬†1984¬†may not be a horror story per se, but to me it is may be the scariest story ever written.

Scary because it feels plausible. And scary because for a person such as myself who values the freedom of thought and speech above all else, there is nothing more frightening than losing both.

1984 was published in 1948 as the super powers entered the cold war. Orwell may have been reacting to the events in pre-war Germany and Italy or perhaps looking east toward Russia and China.

But a recent news article brought Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece to mind. Have you heard about the brave students,¬†educators¬†and parents in Jefferson County, Colorado that are fighting back against an all right-wing school board?

Via Associated Press
Via Associated Press

I found this story via the¬†LA Times. Apparently the recently-elected school board decided that it did not like the AP History curriculum. Here is a quote from the board calling for instruction in which¬†‚Äútheories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.”

Okay, we’ll stop it right there for a moment.¬†Read the words of the school board closely. “Promote citizenship, patriotism …” Sound familiar? Does it not sound like the “Ministry of Truth” from 1984, the organization responsible for propaganda and historical revision? After all, Winston Smith’s job in¬†1984¬†was to rewrite past newspaper articles so that they always reflected the current party line. This is exactly what the Jefferson County school board is attempting to do.

The school board also said: “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law.”

I suppose, then, that the board proposes that students not learn about the Civil Rights movement, Women’s Suffrage movement, and other events in which citizens used their rights of Free Speech (yes, you know that thing guaranteed by the First Amendment, i.e. the law) to attempt to change to system and obtain freedom for all people, not just the white male people.

In fact, the board’s plan to revise the history books was “drafted in response to a new set of history standards adopted by the College Board, which gives more attention to minorities, Native Americans and pre-Columbus early American history.”¬†(Source,¬†Portland Press Herald.) (As an aside, the Herald also reports that the school board blames the student protest on “dissident teachers”, a phrase which also sounds a lot like it came from a spin-doctor handbook. If someone points out the problems with your agenda or policy, then call them “dissident” or “crazy” to discredit them.)

There was a well-written opinion¬†piece on the¬†Huffington Post¬†blog yesterday written by¬†Joseph Palermo. Mr. Palermo, speaking about Gretchen Carlson and Ken Witt, said: “And I doubt if Carlson and Witt ever heard of George Orwell who wrote: ‘Who controls the past controls the future. And who controls the present controls the past.'”

What Ms. Carlson or Mr. Witt know (or think) is probably irrelevant. They are mere pawns belching out the party line. You can be very sure that the right wing politicos behind this move in Colorado, even if they have never heard of George Orwell, absolutely know how to gain power through control of history. And make no mistake that their agenda is to control propaganda so that they can increase their own power.

That’s what totalitarian regimes do. And that’s what we’re talking about here.

Totalitarian is a system of government with only one party (or leader) having complete control and power over the people.

And what is the antonym for totalitarian?

Democracy.

And what is the foundation of democracy?

Freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, the freedom of speech in our country mainly serves the purpose these days of delivering free porn to every smart phone, tablet and computer in America. As I write this, more people right now are viewing porn than are engaging in political debate. Many, many, many more people.

That’s okay with the Koch brothers and their¬†ilk. Because if you are sidetracked by porn and cat videos and such, then you’re not paying attention to what they’re doing to consolidate their power. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Kudos to the students, teachers and parents in Jefferson County who saw the move by their school board for what it is: an attempt to white wash history in furtherance of their own political agenda. Kudos for exercising their First Amendment rights. It takes courage to speak out against the actions of institutions and people in power. But now, perhaps more than ever, we all must be vigilant about our freedom and muster the courage we may not believe that we have to preserve our freedom. This is our right Рand responsibility Рin a free society. I for one feel a surge of hope today as I witness young people pushing back against what is most assuredly a threat to their freedom of thought.

Sci Fi Friday: 3 Cool Future Identification Technologies

 

Face Recognition - Enhancing security in public places Copyright 2005 BAE Systems DSEI goodAA045744[1]There are certain technologies that are ubiquitous in future stories. Flying cars. Laser guns. And identification technology.

It’s hard to imagine fingerprint dusting in the 22nd century. Instead, crime investigations may be “dusting” for DNA. And forget about a mere iris scanner to gain entry to that above top-secret lab. Instead you may have to pass the sniff test.

Good luck trying to fake someone else’s scent.

Here are three super cool, super futuristic identification technologies that I read about recently on LiveScience and provide some cool inspiration for futuristic sci-fi stories:

1. BODY ODOR

dog noseYou read the correctly. Apparently, each person has a unique odor. That’s an “of course” to dogs. Companies are working to catch up to dog tech by finding ways to identify our unique smell signature.

But don’t worry about having a computer sniff you yet. Although researchers have attained a recognition rate of better than 85%, the technology is still in the research stages.

2. HEART BEATS

nymi-hero

While I can see the “sniff test” being used at border crossings and airports, this one seems more like the kind of thing we’ll use every day. A Toronto company called Bionym¬†is developing a bracelet called Nymi that uses your heartbeat for digital identification. Each of us has a unique pattern of electrical activity in our heart. Who knew? The bracelet reads ECG (electrocardiogram) waveforms to identify the wearer.

But here’s where this one gets super spiffy. The Nymi bracelet can them communicate via Bluetooth to our devices. It seems that the possibilities there are endless. No need for a password or even a finger scan to log in to your computer. Just wear the bracelet and it could seamlessly connect the wearer to their devices. But why stop there? How about your car? A hotel room? Bank deposit box?¬†

And this one isn’t just theoretical. You can order this device from Bionym now and it will ship next year.

3. VEINS

This one is even more strange than the others. And a bit creepy too. Apparently we not only have unique fingerprints, odors, and heartbeats, we also have unique vein patterns. This sounds like it’s straight from a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually a technology being branded as BiyoWallet (originally called PulseWallet). Imagine waving your palm over a machine that scans your veins. Once you’ve introduced yourself to the machine, the device would automatically deduct payment owed to the merchant from your account. Good-bye credit and debit cards. Sounds like one of the more promising technologies to prevent identity theft related to credit/debit card use.
Until some evil genius finds a way to counterfeit our veins! (Just wait – you know it will happen ūüėČ
Do you think we’ll see widespread use of any of these technologies in the near future? Do you embrace these technologies? Or do they scare you? What one would you like to use the most?

Sci Fi Friday: When Art and Science Meet It’s a Beautiful Thing

If you’ve been reading my blog on Fridays, then you may have surmised that I frequently geek out over scientific discoveries. Whether its news about a new technology for space travel or the latest from CERN, I can’t resist a headline that hints at a cool discovery.¬†
 
This week I was blown away by this elegant idea from Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde’s team has conceptualized interactive highways and parks that remove smog. But this latest idea is where art meets science.
 
Here’s the pitch: What happens when you take the biology that produces bioluminescence and merge it with plants? Think algae street lamps that store energy from photosynthesis to generate light at night. But Roosegaarde’s team takes it one step further.
 
Roosegaarde’s team, inspired by deep water jellyfish, imagined bio luminescent trees. Check out this video as Daan Roosegaarde explains the concept. Imagine, a street lined with trees instead of street lamps.
How cool is that? Imagine a landscape lit at night by glowing trees. My sci fi imagine is spinning …
 
What other applications can you imagine for bio luminescent biology?

A New Award for Emily’s House: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award

I got notice this week that my first novel, Emily’s House, received a Pinnacle Book Award in the Juvenile Fiction category! The Pinnacle awards recognize excellence in Independent Publishing. I’m thrilled, of course, to receive a recognition for my “first born” book and labor of love.¬†

The award feels almost as good as the Reader’s Favorite 5 Star award that it received earlier this summer.

Awards are nice but nothing compares to happy readers. The nearly 2 Million reads of Emily’s House on Wattpad as well as the votes and comments – that’s what it’s all about. Readers that enjoy the adventure, the mysticism, the action of the book. The readers who “get it.” That’s what keeps me writing.

But I’m happy to accept the awards too ūüėČ

If you’d like to read an excerpt of Emily’s House, you can do so here on my blog. Just click this link.

Thanks to all of my readers and blog followers for your support! ūüėÄ

3 Loglines for H.A.L.F.

I’ve been working on a spiffy log line for H.A.L.F., my speculative sci fi-ish novel that launches in March. For anyone not familiar with a logline, it’s a one sentence (short) summary of the big idea of the book. It’s the “elevator pitch”.

After playing¬†around with it for some time, I’ve come up with three and would like your opinion. Which of these do you think is the most intriguing? Which one makes you interested to know more? Or have I missed the mark completely?

Please drop a comment below and let me know your honest opinion. And thanks so much for dropping by ūüėÄ

1. When a teenager liberates an alien-human hybrid from a government lab, she triggers an inter-stellar war.
2. Three teens become fugitives when they help an alien-human hybrid escape a government lab.

3. While inter-stellar war looms, a teen must liberate the government’s top secret weapon or be terminated.



So let me know which is best for you – #1, #2 or #3 – and why ūüôā Thanks!

Writer Wednesday: Hitting the Mark with Amy Durham

I am pleased to welcome author Amy Durham back to Writer Wednesday! Amy has a captivating new release, Asher’s Mark, a New Adult Romance book. Please check out the book’s description, excerpt and buy links after Amy’s wonderful guest post about doing the hard stuff.
THE HARD STUFF
by Amy Durham
My oldest son is a junior in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him on my website as he was beginning middle school!
High school is a really fun stage in his life, as he’s discovering the things he loves to do, fine-tuning the things he’s good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I’m enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.
When he was a freshman, he auditioned for All-State band for the first time. This is a rigorous audition process – that involves 2 different “cuts” – to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state are selected each year. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn’t make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.

We had a talk about what it meant to do the “hard stuff”. Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn’t have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the “hard stuff” is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually “get there”. There’s such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that’s where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.

I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It’s difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by “doing the hard stuff” and stretching ourselves beyond where we’re comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each “stretch” and each “completed product”, we grow and improve.

This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. So… dream big… run, don’t walk toward the things you want most out of life… even if it means you have to do the hard stuff. It’s always worth it in the end!

I agree with what Amy says in her post. It’s all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, doing the same thing day-after-day more because it’s comfortable than because it’s the best thing for us. I retired from the practice of law last year and threw myself off of a proverbial cliff to pursue a writing career. And boy, is it a hard thing! A full year later, I still feel like I’m¬†trying to figure out my day, my routine and¬†truly own my choice. But I can absolutely agree¬†with Amy that doing the “hard stuff” is worth it.¬†

Back to Asher’s Mark, Amy’s newest release:

Asher’s Mark Book Description:
 
Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham
Grace Ballard has been
in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her
hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow,
a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for
college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she’d imagined
everything.
With no reason to wait
for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher’s brother, Adam, stepped in to
help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts … or her heart.
Now, two years later,
tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace’s life. The boy who left her
behind is now very much a man – a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents’
dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has
changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may
create a divide that can’t be crossed.
Asher and his brother both left their mark on
Grace’s heart. Will Asher’s be able to stand the test of time?

**This New Adult romance features characters 18 years and older. However, this title does not carry a content warning, indicating readers should be over the age of 17.

Would you like a little preview? You’ve got it. Here’s an excerpt of Asher’s Mark:
Asher

I’m kissing Grace. Finally.¬†Every molecule in my body screams with the¬†rightness of it. How had I ever thought I could stay away from her? How could I

have put so much distance between us?
         I have no answers. All I know is that my arms are locked around her as her mouth
fuses to mine, and I never want to let her go.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† There¬†are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t be doing this… namely Adam… but I¬†can’t stop. I don’t want to. Something in me shouts I saw
her first!
Two years of wanting her, loving her, have finally¬†exploded between us. She’s in my arms. In my lap. Under my skin. In my heart.
She is everywhere and everything.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Maybe¬†to her it’s just a way to forget. A way to stop thinking about losing Adam. But¬†I just don’t care. I don’t care at all.
         All that matters is that we are together in this moment.
         I pull back a fraction of an inch, still hugging her close. Her golden green eyes
are glassy and gorgeous, hazy with the desire we just stirred up. Strands of her auburn hair have escaped her ponytail and now hang wistfully around her
face. She’s so beautiful it makes me ache.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† She¬†doesn’t look upset, which is a relief. I thought I’d gauged her reaction
correctly, but I’m glad to know I was right.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† She’d¬†wanted to kiss me just as badly as I’d wanted to kiss her.
         I refuse to think too much about the ramifications of it.
         I run my hands up her back, from her waist to her shoulder blades, pulling her toward me again. Pressing a kiss to one eyelid, then the next, I take a deep
breath and speak.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Mom’s¬†gonna text me any minute,” I say, already dreading the moment I’ll walk¬†out her door. But I know it’ll be better to leave now, while things are still¬†dreamy between us.
         Grace nods, letting her hands slide out of my hair, over my shoulders, then coming to rest on my chest. My stomach flips over.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† No¬†one’s ever made me feel like this. Not even close. A simple touch from Grace¬†does so much more than…
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I¬†shove that thought way down and slam a lid on it, knowing that after all the¬†stuff I’ve done the past year to try and forget Grace, I shouldn’t even be¬†touching her.
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “I¬†should go,” I whisper, leaning in to brush another kiss on her lips.¬†“Before she gets antsy.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Grace¬†smiles. “Okay.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “I¬†don’t want to, though.” I grin back at her.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† All¬†this talk about me leaving, and yet she’s still on my lap and my arms are still
wrapped around her. If I don’t go now, I might not ever.
         I stand up, taking her with me and placing her feet on the floor. I grab my button-up shirt from the love seat, throw it over my shoulder, and turn back to
face her. Our hands find their way to each other, fingers lacing together as we walk toward the door.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I¬†shift close before opening the door, intending to ask if I can see her¬†tomorrow. On the bulletin board by the light switch, I see the picture… the¬†picture I drew her just before I left for Flagstaff two years ago. Had it been
there the night before? I think back and realize it wasn’t. It must‚Äôve been¬†covered up by the big picture of Grace and Adam.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Between¬†last night and tonight she’d uncovered my picture. My mind races with what that¬†might mean. I open my mouth, unsure what I’m about to say.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† But¬†she speaks before I do.¬†“We¬†should probably talk about…” She doesn’t finish the sentence.
         But I know she means Adam.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The¬†guilt bounces around inside me, but I can’t find it in myself to regret what¬†just happened. What I hope very much will happen again. Very soon.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Later.”¬†I reach up and push a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, my hand lingering¬†on the soft skin of her neck. “I know we’ll have to, but not right now. I¬†just want to feel this right now.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† She¬†nods. “Me too.”

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Leaving¬†her right then is about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I do it, before something¬†ruins what was absolutely the most perfect moment of my life.
 
*     *     *
If you’d like to check out more of Asher’s Mark, please use these handy buy links:
 

 
 
Author Amy Durham
After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and
teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the
tween/teen category, you’d think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world
of teens and young adults behind. Not so!
Instead, she spends her spare moments – which sometimes consist of
waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice – with
her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way
through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.
You might ask… “Why Young/New Adult Fiction”? Well,
because it’s what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and
young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it’s true they can be – ahem
– challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that’s a
really cool place to be.
Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity
to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to
keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers
the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy
of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.
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Amy
Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a
musician. If she weren‚Äôt writing books, she’d be a celebrity chef!

 
You can touch base with Amy here:
 
E-mail –¬†amybdurham@gmail.com
Twitter – @amy_durham
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Instagram – @authoramydurham

 

Author of Adventurous Stories for Middle Grade, Young Adult & Adults

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