My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Friday, July 24, 2015

Am I the Only One Doing This?

Siri reads my eBooks to me. Does anyone else do this? I'm guessing not many. Let me explain why I do this.

I love consuming my fiction via audio. If you know me you've probably come to that conclusion. I always have several audiobooks in line waiting to be listened to but I also own TONS of eBooks. I also love reading paper books and eBooks but I have this problem - it's really hard for me to find time to read books but I have 2 hours of commuting every day. I'm driving so I don't have an option of reading as someone riding a bus or train might have, but I have a nice chunk of time every day to consume fiction. So I listen. 

Image from
Now text to speech and I go way back. I've actually been listening to fiction through a robotic voice for a long time so to me Siri is so much more realistic than what I'm used to that it's extremely easy for me to just hear the story through her voice and zone her out. I almost forget it's a robot reading to me because I just get into the story. I found one app long ago called TTS that has a robotic voice but it got the timing and enunciation right so even though it sounded robotic it didn't have awkward pauses and weird rising and falling of the pitch to make it sound weird. I just pictured myself having a droid like C3PO from STAR WARS reading a story to me. I got used to it. Soon the voice faded and all I heard was the story instead of focusing on the fact that the voice telling me the story sounded so robotic.

Now on my iPhone I can make Siri read eBooks to me and it's a feature I couldn't live without. I used it all the time and love it. I "read" website posts and articles this way and review my own writing too. I used Text to Speech to review this post before publishing it! It's great.

So, am I alone here? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bradbury’s Influence Still True Today
Guest Post by Maria Jane

Photo by Alan Light
Ray Bradbury's ability to tell relatable tales centered around human reactions to the extraordinary has solidified the author's ranking as one of premier science fiction writers of all time. Interestingly enough, Bradbury himself didn't prefer the "science fiction" label, instead referring to himself as a fantasy writer, although some of his works offer commentary on the society in which he lived. The fact that Bradbury's works continue to inspire new generations of authors, illustrators, writers and filmmakers is a testament to his unique ability to transcend the limits of time and space and draw on universal themes that still capture the imagination today. 

The recurring themes in Bradbury's works revolve more around human reactions to what's going on around them rather than hard science, allowing for broad interpretation of those themes. While Fahrenheit 451 was originally inspired by the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, its central theme of government overreach is still relevant today. Something Wicked This Way Comes explores the eternal struggle of good vs. evil through its tale of a mysterious carnival owner who uses people's' desire for wish fulfillment to his advantage - illustrating the point that strings are often attached when something appears to be too good to be true. "The Illustrated Man," a collection of short stories, deals with the complexity of the relationship between humans and technology that's still relevant in a world where people have an increasing dependence on various devices. 

Bradbury often drew from his personal life experiences in his writings, which also provided commentary on the times in which he grew up. For instance, the author's periodic references to "Green Town, Illinois," based on Waukegan, Illinois, the town where he was raised, are used to illustrate the disappearance of traditional small-town America values. By using everyday scenarios, like the way in which the parents in "Zero Hour" originally dismiss their children's claims of conversing with invisible beings as nothing more than the innocence of imagination or how he taps into the teenage frustration of not being taken seriously by adults in "Fever Dream," Bradbury forms a connection with his audience by drawing from common experiences and reactions. 

The timeless themes in Bradbury's stories make such tales easily adaptable to new audiences. The ABC series The Whispers (check here for local listings) borrows from "Zero Hour" with its tale of mysterious beings unleashing their paranormal powers by exploiting the innocence of Earth's children. The comic book mini-series Shadow Show presents a collection of stories by 26 writers inspired by Bradbury's classic tales, a series praised by Stan Lee, the legendary comic book writer and former president of Marvel Comics. The stories echo Bradbury's recurring themes of playing on the emotions and reactions of characters faced with implausible "realities." Coincidentally, Bradbury is credited with helping to reintroduce the EC Comics brand of fiction to the public with The Autumn People, which featured comic adaptations of eight of the author's short stories. 

From the Star Wars movies and comics and the Harry Potter books and subsequent movies to TV shows like The X-Files and Lost, evidence of Bradbury's influence can be found in many of the stories that still entertain and delight audiences today. Bradbury himself once praised Steven Spielberg for his ability to blend fantasy and human emotion in movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The admiration between the two men was mutual, as Spielberg lead an outpouring of praise for the author following his death. The works of Stephen King and Michael Crichton also echo themes found in many of Bradbury's classic tales - with King's Under the Dome and Crichton's Jurassic Park books and related movies serving as perfect examples of Bradbury's enduring influence. When discussing his legacy for the Paris Review, the author once summed up his approach to writing: "I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember." 

This awesome article was written by Maria Jane. Click on the label Maria Jane below to find more articles on this website written by her.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Buried in Books and Loving It

These are the books I'm currently reading:

  1. Decision Points by George W. Bush
  2. Sunstruck by Polenth Blake
  3. Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia by Patrick Thorpe
  5. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin
  6. If It's So Easy Why Isn't Everybody Doing It by Scott Welsh
  7. Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
  8. The Collective by Kenan Hillard
  9. Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty by Michell Plested & J.R. Murdock
  10. Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1) by Sigler, Scott

These are books I'm planning on reading this year. Let's see if I can squeeze them all in!

  1. Armada by Ernest Cline
  2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  3. Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 2) by Timothy Zahn
  4. The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells
  5. The Drawing of the Three  (Dark Tower book II) by Stephen King
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. Revival by Stephen King
  8. Mistborn: The Allow of Law by Brandon Sanderson
  9. The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Franke
  11. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  12. Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

What are you reading? I can always use more books on my to-read list :)