Monthly Archives: June 2013

More Useless Information, but Neat Stuff Nontheless

Microwave oven

Microwave oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember this when you write your next Oscar-winning screen play, something I’ll never do. I’ve got my hands full trying to finish the novels I’m silly enough to begin.

The majority of the time when I begin a novel, I start with a blank sheet of paper. I use no outline, take no notes, or in any way do preliminary work before I write the first word. I merely set in front of my blank sheet, with a loose idea and began to write. Many of my ideas come from out of the blue as I write. I guess you could say they’re not by design, but moreover by mistake. Why don’t we take a look at some of the products we use today that weren’t invented, as such, but brought to us by mistake, or even when the inventor was in search of something totally different.

How about Corning Ware? In 1957 a furnace malfunctioned allowing the temperature to rise from 600 to 900 degrees centigrade. Later the white colored glass was dropped and it didn’t break. What do you know. Overheat a furnace, drop a piece of glass and there you have it, casserole containers for life.

Good old Percy Spencer. While checking over radar equipment during World War II, he noticed a candy bar in his pocket had melted. This was caused by the magnetron he was inspecting. Testing  the equipment with popcorn among other foods and enjoying success, Percy developed a similar device that gave way to, you guessed it. The microwave oven.

Now this is one of my favorites!

There seems to be as many different inventors and as many different ways, concerning the discovery of plastic, as there are fingers on our hands and toes on our feet. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was more than likely an evolutionary process. However there are some accounts that appear more than once in this sorted list of plastic’eers.

The first being: Mr. tire himself, Charles Goodyear. He combined rubber and sulfur then accidentally placed them on a stove top. Upon his return he found the material to be strong and much more durable. This process eventually became known as vulcanization.

Secondly, and I’m putting this one in just because I like it. John Wesley Hyatt spilled a bottle of collodion. Collodion is a mixture of pyroxylin (a.k.a. guncotton) ether and alcohol. Once the syrupy material hardened it became strong, flexible and on its way to being the first commercially viable plastic. No doubt plastic was a monumental discovery. We use it in practically everything. Just the weight factor alone in the products in which it is incorporated makes it an invaluable resource . Just imagine, without plastic we would lose the need to bemoan all those plastic bottles covered up in landfills.

But what really gets me about this story, is the fact that one human being had the stones to carry around a bottle full of, what amounted to a lit stick of dynamite.John Wesley

After taking his dog for a walk, George De Mestral notice how well cockle burrs clung to the animals fur. Upon closer examination he noticed a series of hooks in the cockle burrs that could attach and hold firmly to his animals fur and to the loops on the material in his clothing. After testing with different shapes, sizes and materials in 1955 it was proclaimed Velcro.

Gosh! Ain’t we haven’t fun? Hold on tight. We’re going to finish with a biggie. (Pun intended)

Researchers at Pfizer were working on a new drug aimed at helping high blood pressure and a heart condition known as angina. When clinical trials begin, the drug did not work as well as expected, however when checking into the side effects they made a most unusual discovery. It was into this side effect the researchers decided to devote their attention, giving us that little blue pill, loved by millions all over the world. Viva Viagra!

Now if I could only make my novels as successful as that tiny blue progeny I could….Well you know.

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Spread the Word!

As many of you may know, becoming a published author can be a daunting task at best. Once I achieved this uphill struggle I thought I would careen down the other side into the world of sales with this fantastic novel I had created.

Not so. It seems that there are more than eight hundred new titles coming out each day. This translates to well over a quarter million every year. We may have over three hundred million people in the United States and six or so billion in the world, not all of which who read, but no matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of books vying for not so many eyes.

If I were to add all of my royalty checks together, no doubt I could purchase a large case of bubblegum; however, man does not live by bubblegum alone.

I have been marketing to book clubs, bookstores, magazines, newspapers, radio and television, social media and if I’m not mistaken, I even tried to sell my mother a copy.

I’ve done book signings, book fairs and numerous other activities designed to sell books. For the most part “Rising Tide” has received exceptional reviews. Even considering the four thousand emails I have sent out on behalf of “Rising Tide,” sales are still lagging.

Being blessed with a hard head I simply refuse to give up and because of this I’m always searching for new ways to market my book. This is where I’ll humbly ask for your assistance. I am starting a grassroots movement to further promotion. I am not asking that you purchase a book (although that’s up to you) but that you would spread this message to friends, family, and coworkers and ask them to do the same.

Use email, word-of-mouth, social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) or any other method you would like to incorporate. As a further incentive I’m offering one free copy of “Rising Tide” to the first one hundred book clubs (i.e., one copy per book club) who contact me through my website www.lynnsteigleder.com. I’ll require interested book clubs to supply a contact name, email address, mailing address, and name of book club.

The following is two sample chapter excerpts from “Rising Tide.” I hope you enjoy them and spread the word!

                                                                               Thank You!

CHAPTER ONE

• • •

Day Five

Ben awoke to a voice echoing throughout the chamber.  “Topside to Ben, come in, Ben.” The transmission repeated. “Topside to Ben. It’s time to rise and shine, sweetheart.”

He moaned and rolled out of the sack. He didn’t have far to roll. The space lived up to its name; it was the size of a tin can. Two bunks, a dry toilet, and a panel to monitor life support, position, and temperature along with numerous small storage bays made up the  interior of the Orion.

He reached for the COM and yawned. “This is Ben, Topside, go ahead.”

“Good morning, Ben. So glad you could take time out of your busy schedule to join us.”

“Good morning, Marty,” Ben said, rolling his eyes.

“Ben, it’s time to begin system’s check. You’ll be on the surface in just under thirty hours.”

Ben moved to the control console, yawned again, and rubbed his eyes.  “Roger,” he said. “Beginning system’s check.”

He knew this was necessary, but why wake him at four a.m. every morning for the same thing? Couldn’t they do this a little later in the day?

“How are you feeling?” Marty asked. “Your vitals look good from up here.”

“Good overall, just a little dizzy,” Ben answered.

“It’s probably the nitrogen,” Marty countered. “We changed your breathing mixture again last night.” He paused. “Ben,” Marty continued, “don’t forget to check your interior hatch control also.”

“Everything’s operative,” Ben said.

“Good,” Marty replied. “Topside out.”

Orion out,” Ben replied.

The one thing Ben loathed more than Pete’s cooking were the rations onboard the Orion. These things must have been around since the First World War, he thought. Unwilling to dive into another cardboard-based meal, Ben sat down on the edge of his bunk, hung his head, and closed his eyes. In this position he could sense the capsule’s movement intensify. He moved back to the COM.

“Topside, this is Ben. What’s with the bumpy ride?”

“A tropical storm,” came the reply.

He waited for further explanation. None came. Ben stiffened. “Is that it?” he said. “Why so tight lipped?”

“Ben, this is Marty. A tropical depression formed yesterday morning. We’ve been waiting to see how it plays out before we filled you in. I didn’t want to cause any undue alarm.”

“Well?” Ben questioned.

“The forecast calls for slow strengthening,” Marty continued. “According to our radar, they may have been wrong. The next update is due soon. Just hang tight. I’m confident that it won’t be a factor in getting you to the surface. If it’s any consolation,” he said, “they named this one Benjamin.”

“I don’t care what they call it,” Ben said. “Just keep me in the loop. It’s my butt in this can, not yours.” He started to say more then thought better of it. “Orion out,” he finished.

In this environment, hours seemed like days. Ben thumbed through the rations again and decided on a prepackaged breakfast bar. He sat down, unwrapped the bar, and took a bite. The Orion lurched violently, tossing him into the port wall. “What the—” It lurched again, throwing him to the opposite side.

The intercom brought him back. “Ben, can you hear me?”

Ben pressed the COM button. “What’s going on up there?” he screamed.

“Ben, it’s not up here, it’s down there. There’s been an explosion in the habitat.”

“Marty,” Ben said, “what about Pete?”

“I don’t know, Ben,” he said. “I don’t know.”

Another blast ripped through the Orion, cutting all power and knocking him to the floor. Ben lifted himself off the deck and found it was impossible to stand. He crawled to the COM panel.

“Marty! All systems down! All systems down!” he repeated.

“Ben, your umbilical has been severed. You’ll have to power up onboard support.”

“Understood,” Ben responded. “What next?” he whispered.

The mere push of a button would begin the conversion, but now even the simplest task was proving nearly impossible for Ben with the capsule bouncing violently.

He located the switch and managed to convert all outside life support to onboard systems control. The battery backup kicked in. The lights flickered and then burnt steadily, not as bright as usual, but it was better than the complete darkness that had momentarily filled the cabin. One look at his gauges told him he was still eighty feet down, too deep to blow the ballast and surface.

The Orion continued to bob up and down. Ben pushed the COM button. “Marty, why am I not stabilizing?”

“Ben, the tropical storm has been strengthening rapidly for the past few hours. The blast bounced you up almost sixty feet. You’ve gotten close enough to the surface to feel part of what we’re getting up here,” he said.  “We’ve got twenty-foot seas, going to thirty.” There was a long silence.

“Give it to me straight this time, Marty,” Ben said.

“Ben, the storm’s going to get stronger, maybe a cat five, or worse. On top of that, with the new protocol in place, everyone on board the platform moves into the Ark. We’ll lose our COM link,” he said. “You’ll be on your own, Ben. I’m sorry.”

The Ark was a self-sufficient life station positioned beneath the drilling platform. It could support up to thirty people for a maximum of five days. With limited propulsion it could even be cut loose and move away from OZ if necessary, tethered by a one-inch, two-mile long cable that could be winched in when the “all-clear” was given.

“Great,” Ben said. The chamber lurched again, this time slamming into one of the oilrig’s massive legs. “Marty, I’m still tethered to the sea floor. I’m too close to the rig. I’m gonna have to cut loose from the cable and float free before this thing beats me to death.”

“Ben, do not blow your ballast. Repeat. Do not blow your ballast. You’ll need another sixteen hours minimum to complete your decompression cycle.”

“Roger that,” Ben said. Beads of sweat gathered on  his forehead.

“What about Pete?” Ben asked.

“As close as we can determine, the storm wrenched the habitat’s life support umbilical loose, allowing the atmosphere to escape,” Marty said. “Once the pressure reached a critical level … ” his voice trailed off. “I’m sorry, Ben; no one could have survived that implosion.”

Orion out,” Ben said. His mind was blank, his body numb. He disengaged the quick connects from the cable and began to drift. The oilrig’s stabilizer scraped the side of Orion, seemingly to say goodbye.

Marty transmitted one last time. “We’re moving to the Ark,” he said. “Good luck, Ben. Topside out.”

Overwhelmed, Ben didn’t answer.

CHAPTER TEN

The jolt knocked Ben to the floor. “Talk about a rude awakening,” he said. He rose and popped his head through the hatchway. The scene was surreal. A large vessel had planted itself firmly into the side of the Orion. Neither vessel was moving. It’s as though they’ve been fused together on contact, he thought. There was a man hanging over the side clutching the rail. Another leaned over and pulled the first man up. Within minutes three faces were peering over the side of the ship at him.

“Ahoy!” Ben yelled.

“Ahoy,” came the response. ”Can you leave your vessel?”

“I’ll have to blow the side hatch,” Ben said.

“Very well,” a voice replied. “We’ll ready the lifeline.”

A boom swung over the edge of the ship and began lowering a line with a survival harness attached. When the harness touched the water, Ben dropped into the chamber and made ready to make his escape. With his hand poised over the switch, he thought of the capsule filling with water and taking him to the bottom along with it. Before he had a chance to change his mind, he slammed his palm down.

There was a brief delay, and the hatch blew free from its mooring. Ben lunged for the opening, but he wasn’t moving. His boot had become wedged under the console’s toe kick. He fought off panic and reached for his boot to free it. It wouldn’t budge. He removed his foot from the boot. He looked toward the hatch expecting to see a wall of water.

Amazingly, there was none. The cabin was bone dry. The water had been nearly halfway up the hatch when he’d blown it, but it wasn’t filling the cabin. He looked closer and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was as if a piece of glass had been placed across the hatchway. The sea level remained constant, drawing a straight line across the opening, but no water entered in.

Ben pushed his hand into the impossible then pulled it back. It was wet. He twisted his boot free and laced it back onto his foot, still mesmerized by the sight before him. He shuddered, then, thinking more clearly, decided that he’d better get out before whatever was holding the water back changed its mind.

Ben emerged at the surface and started to swim toward the harness. He strapped himself in and gave the thumbs-up. As he was lowered onto the ship’s deck, a lone figure approached. He was tall, fiftyish, with a neatly trimmed, slightly gray beard, and a uniform complete with cap that almost appeared military. He saluted and extended his hand.

“Welcome to the Morning Star,” he said. “Captain Evans at your service.”

 
 

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Why Come, How for, and other Such Silly Notions

Vintage Romance Novels

Vintage Romance Novels

Have you ever wondered why things are the way they are? I don’t mean things that have any real meaning, but instead things that more or less represent the epitome of useless information. If so, then jump on the bandwagon with me as we explore these hopeless bits.

Take for instance, Fabio. Now I’m secure enough in my masculinity to be able to admit that Fabio is a good-looking guy. He has graced the cover of many romance novels. Now here’s the part I have a hard time justifying. The images that appear on these covers are not photographs, but drawings.  In this world we have talented artists that could easily draw a make-believe cover model that would rival any living person, and the best part of this situation is that drawings don’t demand huge salaries. To me it’s a no-brainer. Write a novel, draw a nonexistent cover model and save a bucket ‘o’ bucks.

Here’s another:

Why do famous, beautiful female celebrities appear in hair color commercials, but never grace the box themselves? The cardboard containers seem to be reserved for attractive yet less well known faces. Maybe the hair color folks got smart and in order to save megabucks decided to go with unknowns. Move over Fabio, looks like the freebies are coming after you.

And now we move to the infamous couch cover. Did your grandmother or mother ever buy a new couch and immediately spread a cover over it for protection? Your family may have owned this davenport For 20 years but you never saw what it actually looked like until it was time to throw it away. This is a great segue into what we called when I was a child “the living room.” This room was never used unless special company (a preacher, for instance) came to pay us a visit. It was like owning a time capsule that one could go to study the ancient furniture and obsolete fabrics still in pristine condition. Often, clear plastic would adorn these articles to afford additional protection.

Here’s the point at which I would normally begin to conclude my thoughts by writing something like, “in conclusion,” or “to sum up,” or “I’ll finish this post with.” But you have to admit it sure has been fun delving into the world of models, Grandmothers, couch covers and archaeological furnishings. This time, however, I’m going to leave you with a question. Something that hasn’t happened yet, but has the possibility, nay the probability, of coming to fruition in the very near future.

Computer generated images (C.G.I.) have brought movies to astounding heights of realism. These computer geniuses are coming very close to being able to replicate the human form including body movement, facial features and all of our many nuances and idiosyncrasies. What if, unbeknownst to the general public, a moviestar could be created using this technology? After performing in film after film this cybernetic actor would be bolstered on to the pedestal of megastar, seemingly earning millions per film but in truth no more able to spend a dollar than the proverbial church mouse.

And this begs another question be answered: What will become of the millions made? Will this money be spread around within the filmmaking community, or will the technicians who hold this power within their little palms become the new Hollywood heartthrobs? Rest assured, when there is money to be made, someone will be there to wrap their grubby little paws around it.

Hmm…Could be fodder for my next bestseller.

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An Excerpt from my New Book!

I thought I’d do something a little different for this post:  An excerpt from my latest novel would change up my usual format and also to give my wonderful readership an idea of how I really write. Even though the book I am presently working on is a bit different from my usual work, it still runs along the same lines. My novels are usually an intermarrying of adventure, fantasy, science fiction, mystery and a touch of romance. I coined the term scifadstery. So let’s take a short jaunt to a world that may be closer to ours than you think.

 Chapter One

       Clay stepped up onto the raised walkway. “I hate this place,” he mumbled. Patting his sidearm, he grabbed the door handle and prepared to enter.

Clay was a bounty hunter. His latest skip (if you want to call him that since Clay had spent the better part of two years chasing empty leads) was Sal Ricky. A career criminal with a taste for refined women (and I mean a real taste) as he would consume certain body parts of his victims after performing whatever atrocities piqued his fancy.

Clay stood tall, six foot five. He always wore black (feeling it more intimidating.) His trademark trench coat covered a muscular frame, formed by hard work in the palladium mines most of his life. His face was clean shaven, save for a mustache that ended at his jaw line.

He stepped into the brothel.  A dozen pair of eyes immediately turned his way. He removed his sidearm from its holster.

“I’m looking for Sal Ricky,” he announced. After a slight pause he repeated the phrase. “I said…I’m looking for Sal Ricky.”

“If you want me, all you gotta do is ask,” came a smug response. The voice emanated from a dark corner.  In it stood a six foot tall figure. Instead of legs it sported four eight foot long appendages that would shoot forward landing on the ground and allow the rest of the body to move over these like treads on a tank.

It would repeat this scenario and could move surprisingly fast when necessary.

“So?” Sal Ricky asked.  “What exactly is it that I can do for you?”

Clay moved closer toward the corner and clicked the safety off his weapon.

“Don’t play stupid you ball of snot,” he raised his free hand and wrapped it around the bottom of his pistol grip.  “I’ve been looking for you for almost two years now.” Clay cocked the second hammer on his handgun.  “This time you’re all mine.”

Sal Ricky was a hydrak. He lived up to his name, constantly oozing fluid and leaving a trail similar to that of a slug when he moved.

“Ya think so.” The creature calmly lit a cigarette with two surprisingly human like hands. He inhaled deeply, burning up nearly half the smoke in one drag.

“Better men have tried,” he said, finishing his cigarette with a second drag and dropping it into a puddle of slime, the butt hissing as the glowing ashes died.

Clay tightened his grip.  “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.  I get just as much for you dead as alive.”  He smiled out of one corner of his mouth.  “Makes no difference to me.”

Sal Ricky crossed his arms which were anything but human.  They were muscular with a lizard like texture and a green color to match.  His lower half was bulbous and horizontal to the ground, turning vertical at mid thorax until it formed his head.

“Don’t you get tired of the same old clichés?” Sal Ricky snickered. “Easy way, hard way. Alive or dead. Blah, blah, blah. After two years you should know I don’t do anything the easy way.” His head was square with a round circle on each side.  He could spin his neck three hundred and sixty degrees if need be. He had a set of eyes at the upper portion of each circle.  Only one side contained an orifice with which he spoke and took in nourishment. One big tuft of green hair sprang from the center of his scalp climbed vertically, about a foot, and then flopped over on all sides.

“Have it your way,” Clay said.  Just then, two humanoid figures appeared on either side of Sal Ricky. The first figure made a move and then slipped on his boss’ excretions, landing flat on his back.

Clay rolled to his right behind a steel column and fired one barrel, removing most of the second figures’ head. The first man still floundering in the goo was an easy take out.

Sal Ricky moved toward Clay, knocking him to the floor as he passed.  Clay moved to one knee and steadied himself. He would only have one shot.

Sal Ricky could easily bust through the wall and that’s what he had a mind to do, Clay surmised.  He made sure both hammers were cocked.  Cocking them was one thing, firing both simultaneously was something you didn’t do unless you absolutely had to.

Clay took a deep breath and pulled both triggers….

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