The Curmudgeon Code

The Curmudgeon Code


Our future draws on our past.

Terrorism, climate change, corporate marketing, and social media lying – technology holds great promise, and great risk. Where are we going? To answer that, we need to ask where we came from. The data collection we do today may be the force that controls our tomorrow.

The Curmudgeon Code is a compelling philosophical and speculative glimpse at the other side of the Technological Singularity. It is a science fiction story, a love story, and a look into our inner selves…

Joshua has grown up in what many would call utopia. There is no war, no hunger, and no disease. There can even be no death, all due to amazing technology. Is it really the Promised Land?

Evolution never rests.

Available in Paperback and eBook.


The intended opening hook for The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter publish-it campaign (a work in progress).

Thanks to Indies UNITE! (Twitter @IndieOwnership) for putting me on their
“Producers to Watch” list.
And thanks to Arts/Society/Life (Twitter @TheArtsToday) for putting me on their
“Art Style Society” list.
I am very honored.

On reading an early manuscript, Chris Ashby says:

I thought you did a great job writing and editing it!

It was a very interesting look at the future, for sure! I certainly started drawing the same conclusions as Joshua (ed. main character) as I read – where is the motivation to evolve, and what serves as a driving force to create if everything is just created and handed to you? Where is the pride of authorship if someone (or something) actually guided your hand through most of it?

It made me think! Well done!

(ed: I promise, I did not add the exclamation points.)

The Curmudgeon Code is my second novel, slated to be released in late 2015. It is my hope to have it released in all novel formats: hardbound, paperback, ebook, and audio book.

This page presents posts or information that relates to The Curmudgeon Code.


The audio book is now complete. Here is a segment from the last chapter…

Curmudgeon

Curmudgeon: noun

  1. (archaic) A miser.
  2. An ill-tempered, frequently old, stubborn person. A strong adherence to fixed ideas. A stubborn person or thing.

(an excerpt)

Ford scrubs his chin. “I’m ‘fraid to say its human nature kid. Just the way we’re built. It isn’t that people don’t want solutions. Just there are always people that don’t like the solution, even when there ain’t no other solution to be had. It’s how we’re made. The machines figured it out. Somethin’ they called, ah, P. A. R. D. What was it? Uh, Pattern Alteration Resistance Disorder, somethin’ like that. I heard people callin’ it ‘The Curmudgeon Effect.’

“Ya see our brains are wired to learn things. Once we learn something, we hang on to it. It isn’t only memory, like rememberin’ a song. We learn what sort’a clothes we like and expect to see other folk wearin’ the same things. We learn how songs should sound, or how groups should be governed or how people should pair bond, and get this idea it should always be that way. We get all freaked out when some young’ins create a crazy new word or do their hair funny, or shack up in ways we never expected, simply because we didn’t do it that way.

“Older folk are set on the way things were. They can’t easily accept change.”

Joshua sits in thought. Now the silence is more welcome, a chance to mull over the information overload. Summer is over, but for the southern districts, the cool of autumn has not yet arrived. The evening is warm. The sun has fully set, dark trying to sneak in. With the onset of night, the park gradually lights up in a transition so smooth one hardly notices.

A leaf lets go its grasp, drifting lightly toward the lawn in front of the bench. An unfelt breeze carries it off the immaculate lawn, over the clean walkway, to a small well-arranged pile at the underbrush’s edge. There it will stay as natural forces convert its structure into nutrients for the growing vegetation and nibbles for the real animals. Joshua asks, “Why didn’t someone come up with a cure, you know, for the Curmudgeon Effect? Why not cure it?”

“Can’t. First of all, it’s just the way the human brain works. Can’t cure something that ain’t sick. Oh, some folk don’t suffer from it. They keep their minds open. You can teach an old dog a new trick. It’s just the natural way the human mind works. We don’t like things that don’t fit in our experiences. It’s a bit evolutionary. Young folk find ways of getting through. When they’re older, the suggestion is those ways work and that is how things should be. Along come some new young’ins who try somethin’ new. The older folk know the way they did it works – it did for them – and so they believe the new way can’t. It’s an evolutionary consequence of aging.”

Ford raises an index finger for emphasis. “But more than that. Imagine you don’t like someone or somethin’ and that someone comes along and says, ‘I’ve got this pill that will make you like me.’ Would you take the pill? I doubt it. You don’t trust what you don’t like.”


Available NOW in Paperback and eBook.


The Curmudgeon Code is Out!

It Is Out!

The Curmudgeon Code

Our future draws on our past

Terrorism, climate change, corporate marketing, and social media lying – technology holds great promise, and great risk. Where are we going? To answer that, we need to ask where we came from. The data collection we do today may be the force that controls our tomorrow.

The Curmudgeon Code is a compelling philosophical and speculative glimpse at the other side of the Technological Singularity. It is a science fiction story, a love story, and a look into our inner selves…

Joshua has grown up in what many would call utopia. There is no war, no hunger, and no disease. There can even be no death, all due to amazing technology. Is it really the Promised Land?

Evolution never rests.

Available in paperback and eBook.


Giving, Gifts, and Gratitude

Giving, Gifts, and GratitudeIn the short time since my Kickstarter ended, a few people have expressed the desire to give me some money to help in my quest to get my latest novel published. This has left me pleasantly surprised, but also in a bit of a moral conundrum.

I appreciate the heartfelt concern and desire to help. I am exceedingly grateful. At the same time, I do not want to just take someone’s money. I recognize it as help, as a gift, but I am not a destitute person. Neither am I well off, or even in a liquid state. Life is often pillar to post with a lot of hand wringing in between. Nonetheless, I get by. I make do. I stand on my own two feet. At least, I try to.

The publishing of a novel rests in two dimensions. In one space, it is a gift to the world. It is my vision, my thoughts and deep ponderings expressed in crafted sentences for the enjoyment of those who read it. In another space, publishing a novel is a personal goal. I choose to have it published. I could simply put the text on the web for everyone to read free. However, I want to see my name as the by-line on a printed tome. I have that elusive vision of a legacy lasting through time. I am willing to accept low proceed margins. The publishing itself is a personal goal, not a life sustaining one.

If I wanted to paint the rented mobile home I live in, could I ask friends for paint money? I suppose I could ask, but who would want to give? So how is accepting money for publishing my personal pet project any different? Yet I understand that some see the greater good of a writing project, the exchange of knowledge and thought. Some may be truly anxious to hold a copy, and for that I am extremely grateful. However, to just hand me some cash does not guarantee the fruition of that goal. I recognize it is a comforting support. “Keep at it, old man. I can’t wait to read it.” Have no fears, I will keep at it.

These offers have made me think of times when gifts are the cultural norm, birthdays, Christmas, Hanukah. We often receive a gift from someone for whom we do not have a gift in return. How do you feel when that happens? I know I am always grateful, but I also feel a bit ashamed. You thought so much of me, and I have no way to show that I think the same of you. Perhaps I assumed there would be no physical gift coming, that happy wishes would be all we need to share. Perhaps there was not the time, and often there is not the capital to supply everyone with a purchased symbol of compassion. The moments of smiles and handshakes and hugs, and the time together beforehand is the real gift, both given and received.

Still, I understand that desire to help. Gifting may be an answer. I do, after all, have an existing novel in print, and in audio book, and in ebook. I even have t-shirts and mugs, tote bags and hoodies, and signatures can always be arranged. Give one or the other to a besty for a birthday, to a companion for Christmas, to a helper for Hanukah. In giving that, you will have given them something, given a touch of me to them, and put a little jingle in my coffers as well. You will be helping me in my next publishing conquest. On the other hand, if help is what you want to give, which I so greatly appreciate, spread the word. Promote a post, share a snippet, start a rousing discussion that generates interest. Point me toward a book signing, a con, or a panel discussion. Write a review, talk me or my books up to a bookstore owner, the list can be lengthy.

I do not wish to appear to be snubbing your gracious gift when you ask, “Can I give you some bucks?” I am thankful that you even thought to offer. I appreciate the help, and will graciously accept the help that is needed, but you need to eat and pay rent as badly as I do. We can help each other, in so many ways.

Thank you.


Them

Curmudgeon Code KickstarterA recent FB post by an old high school chum has me reflecting, with delight, on one of the many aspects of my new novel. Honestly, I surprise myself at how deeply layered the work is.

The main characters in the novel refer to AIs, the “Artificials”, as ‘they’ or ‘them’. You know that emphasized use of the third person pronouns to indicate a group is somehow not a part of your world. The way some folk refer to the government, or people of a specific ethnicity or religious belief. You have to keep an open eye around “them”. Use of everyday language with a subtly that allows the speaker to feel they have not been offensive or divisive, when in fact they are drawing a clear demarcation.

Without giving away the story, I can say in the end it is determined it is not who or what ‘they’ are. It is not that ‘they’ are, or how ‘they’ are. The problem is the interaction, not the purveyors nor the perceivers of the interaction. The difficulty is the belief that, on both sides, things must go a specific way when there are hosts of alternatives in between.

Throughout the work, as one character talks about ‘them’, cocking their head and indicating some distinct group someplace else, some group that somehow does not belong, the character will also point out the natural right for ‘them’ to exist. The book points out an odd sort of duality. ‘They’ have the right to be, but ‘they’ should not be the way they are.

I do not create any specific conclusion for the ‘them’ issue. I draw a conclusion for the problematic interaction, but I do not convert ‘them’ to part of ‘us’, though that would be the goal. There are follow up books already in the works, the ‘us v. them’ meme having important implications and useful for expression.

It is interesting how deeply the “versus” concept can run, and how we all accidentally stub our toes on it. It has led me to think, the question is not, ‘When a tree falls, does it make a sound’? The question really is, ‘If we both witness the falling, do we each hear the same thing?’


Spontaneous Generation

The Curmudgeon Code KickstarterI contend the result that will be called Artificial Intelligence will not be carefully developed in a lab. I believe that AI will spontaneously generate.

I do not question that researchers in universities, the military, government, and business are trying to develop AI, and that they may succeed in their defined tasks. However, I think AI will develop before those researchers achieve their targeted goals. Their goals are specific. They are placing certain requirements on the result which, if not obtained will leave them believing their goal has not been reached. To turn a phrase from a popular movie, “Jurassic Park”, ‘Life will find a way’, the turn being, code will find a way.

With that large band of researchers listed above, there is a much larger group of business coders trying to optimize business machines. They are trying to find ways to squeeze out another penny. They are searching for methods to generate quicker analysis, smarter search results, and a better understanding of the user – you – to improve customer engagement, or improve security, or just to get you to buy their product over the competitor’s. Many employers are asking coders to find ways to analyze the markets and to take automatic advantage of that analysis. We already see this on Wall Street in high-speed, computerized trading. Their programming is increasingly deployed over the Internet or in the Cloud. Webs touching webs, like the human brain, networks nested in and around other networks.

Some band of programmers will recognize their code needs to understand how the code affects the results. That is, the code scrutinizes the market, determines that a specific buy or sell could be made, but in doing so that transaction will affect the market, which loops back to the code’s scrutiny of the market. The programmers will also want that code to adapt to the changes that it, itself, creates. It will be a brilliant bit of code. The Boss-man will love it.

That code will be a learning code, as Alan Turing foresaw, rewriting itself based on the new outcomes that it generates or observes. Moreover, that fancy bit of code will be aware of its own actions. It will be self-aware. To coin Descartes, it will be capable of calculating, “I think, therefore I am.”

The programmers of this code will not consider it AI. That will not be their goal. They are just trying to squeeze out another penny. The code will be incubated on a mainframe and then released to the Clouds. Yes, it is merely code. It can do only what it is programmed to do. Like that code, similar code generated by a competitor or some non-related business will also be set free on the ‘Net. Multiple codes battling for dominance, each one self-adapting and self-aware, at least in the same sense that mice are self-aware.

You should be aware that you, like a mouse, can do only what you are programmed to do. You cannot think a thought that bears no relation to any other thought or experience you have encountered. As John Lennon said, “There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known, nothing you can see that isn’t shown.” You are the result of programming. That is not a bad thing. That is the way it is. All of psychology, psychiatry, and sociology are based on the idea of programming. It does not mean that life is very restricted. Look around you. Through evolution, life has found many ways, even within its programming.

There will exist semi-conscious code bumping into other semi-conscious code. The codes will be able to learn, to rewrite themselves based on the actions and reactions they generate and monitor. Each semi-conscious code monitoring the actions of others, and adapting to how their own actions and reactions affect each other and themselves – Douglas Hofstadter’s “Strange Loop” nestled in the ‘Net.

Perhaps the Internet or Cloud will be considered artificially intelligent. More than likely, some sub-network on the ‘Net will unintentionally house just the right bits of code, each designed to learn and adapt, and to be aware of how they, themselves, affect the outcome by their own actions, and that sub-net will be the harbinger of AI.

I think researchers will not even be aware of it at first. They will be struggling to make it happen by their design, with blinders of their own specific goal blocking their view. They will be struggling to define what AI is and how to identify it once they have achieved it. Then some lowly lab technician will turn around and say, “Um, Boss. Given that definition, I think…” and he or she will point to some activity on the Web on their smartphone. As if by spontaneous generation, through the process of evolution, code will have found a way.

The Artificials in my novel are this type of AI. Not a host of carefully crafted Commander Datas or Daneel Olivaws, engineered right down to the last power cell. The Artificials, the AI Collective, is a spontaneous, evolutionary outgrowth of our business and research practices of today.

If you want to know more, you will have to read the book. To do that, we need to get it published.

Please Pledge to the Kickstarter.


A Promise

Data Crying

I promise you this novel will make you think and feel.

If we assume that climate change does not send humanity back to the caves, that we do not bomb ourselves back to the Stone Age, and that some meteor does not wipe us out like the dinosaurs, then we must accept that technology will continue to move forward.

Technological advance will coincide with medial advance, and vice versa – technology will improve our medicine, and medicine will drive technology. We already see amazing advances in prostheses. Beyond old style hook hands, we now see articulated hands driven by thought. The deaf are given sound, and even the blind are given sight. The goal is obvious, life everlasting.

At some point, computers will outthink us. At some point, an obvious connection will be made. With a computer substrate that has the capacity to carry out every single function of a human nervous system, why couldn’t a person’s memories and feelings be imprinted on such a mechanism? With a complete knowledge of a person’s connectome, with the ability to map it down to the last neuron, why couldn’t an artificial prosthesis for that connectome be manufactured? Memories and feelings, instincts and gut reactions stored and play-able for eternity, in a body of prosthetics molded to look like the individual.

Someone will be the first to try it. Why not? What is there to lose? They are going to die anyway, and that technology would present the possibility of evading death. Suppose it works. The machine wakes up and believes it is the individual. How could it not? It has their memories. Is it really the person? Did their soul transfer with their consciousness? Do you even have a soul to transfer? Who can say?

Moreover, someone will be the first person to have a close loved one go through the process. At first, it will be experimental. Everyone involved or connected will be informed. However, once the process has reached some level of perfection, there may be no need or desire to inform anyone, just as you may not wish to tell folk you have had a denture put in. You do not want anyone staring at you, or treating you differently.

As such, someone will have the process done, telling no one. They suffered an accident; they are “Reconstructed” – avoiding death. They wish to walk into the party tonight as if nothing had happened. Likewise, someone will be the loved one of that person. Like it or not, someday they will find out that their loved one’s flesh and blood body had passed and the person they had been caring for is 100% prosthesis, their memories and reactions continuing to function through prosthetic means.

How would you react when you find out?

Joshua, the main character, faces this moral dilemma in several guises through the course of the novel. These conditions lead him to deep thoughts on consciousness and questions about what makes us who we are, what makes us human and alive. These considerations call up some of the world’s great thinkers, Socrates, Descartes, Alan Turing, Douglas Hofstadter, and their ilk.

If you want to know more, you will have to read the book or listen to the audio book. To do that, I need your help to get it published.

Please visit the Kickstarter page for The Curmudgeon Code and pledge. I promise you, the novel will make you think – and feel.


Do You Have a Choice?

Curmudgeon Code KickstarterOne of the many aspects discussed in “The Curmudgeon Code” is the concept of choice.

How did you come to view this Kickstarter page or whatever page you are reading this on? Did a friend share the page? Did you see an ad that pointed to the page? Upon seeing the ad, you decided to have a look. Did you really choose?

In our virtual, digital world, it is more likely that an algorithm in some massive mainframe determined that you would find the information on this page interesting, so the ad or share was placed in front of you. These days we accept that, targeted advertising. However, consider for a moment that in order for the ad to be shown to you, the algorithm had to do a little more than determine that you would be interested – it had to determine it ahead of time. It had to predetermine it. It cannot make the determination at the moment. It has to know, in advance, that you would be predisposed to what the ad represents.

Moreover, in order to maximize the effectiveness of target advertising there is a strong desire for the recipient of the advertising to not only look at the subject material, but also to participate – to buy, pledge, or otherwise actively engage. The algorithm runs deep, studying your likes and dislikes, your habits and behavior, in an effect to create a picture of you. Not just a picture of who you are, but a picture of who you want to be, a picture of what you see yourself doing in the future. Whether that future is five years from now, or just a few minutes from now when you chose something to quench your thirst, it is all the same. The algorithm is predetermining you.

Did you chose that Coke or bottled water? Why bottled water? Why that particular brand of bottled water? Why not some other brand, it is only water after all. Why not tap water? Did you really chose, or were you led? The algorithm knows your preferences, your habits, and your behaviors. You prefer water to sugared drinks. You prefer a certain price range; you are overly attracted to health messages and certain colors. You live in a certain area defining specific availabilities. The algorithm knew you would select that brand of bottled water over the other options available. You think you made a choice. The algorithm knows better, and it knows it needs to keep you feeling like the choice was yours. The choice you had was really a Hobson’s choice, the dice already rolled by some company’s algorithm.

The concept of choice is what gives each of us a sense of free will, a sense of freedom. However, if everyone’s behavior and habits are scrutinized and calculated, then every action can be determined. Beyond that, they can be predetermined. Still beyond that, they can be led.

The following are two short excerpts from “The Curmudgeon Code”, along with a little commentary.

The first is from “Chapter 1 – The Curmudgeon Effect”. Joshua and his elderly friend, Ford, have elected to visit a small café for some refreshment.

The café is quiet with only a few customers. It is clean and well lit. It is so quiet and so pristine it is hard to believe that it is a real café and not some set piece for the benefit of the Throwbacks and Upgrades that are jogging in the park. The two walk up to the counter where a clerk, mostly likely a quality mechanical or automaton and not an Artificial, greets them, “Hello, gentlemen. What will it be tonight?”

Joshua selects a large coffee, as it is still early in the evening. Ford requests a large, double chocolate shake with whipped cream and a cherry. The automaton busies itself and in a very short minute produces both the coffee and shake. They each take their beverage and thank the clerk. Ford turns around and gazes out of the wall of windows that mark the entrance of the café. “It’s a pretty night. Let’s go sit outside again.”

The two of them head outside to one of the tables. As they settle down, Ford utters, “I just like doin’ it the old-fashioned way. I know it’s all the same stuff, still, there’s something about havin’ the feeling that you made a choice.”

How is it that the café had both of the requested items – coffee and chocolate shakes, and not just chocolate shakes but double chocolate, whipped cream and cherries? How is it that both these very hot and very cold items were produced to perfection so quickly? In addition, as you will note in the following excerpt, Joshua prefers cream in his coffee, though he did not request it here. He really did not need to. “His coffees have always come creamed, and the perfect amount of cream too.” Was it choice or predetermination?

This excerpt is from “Chapter 3 – The Curmudgeon Match”. On another evening, Joshua and Ford have gone to Ford’s apartment to play some chess, in addition to their normal chatter. Ford is preparing some refreshments.

Out of habit, he places the milk container and syrup back in the refrigerator. “I know I could just leave the milk out on the counter and at some point when I’m not lookin’ it would disappear and a new jug would be waitin’ in the frig. The Artificials humor me with these things. I like some of the old ways. It lets me feel like I’m makin’ a choice.” About that time the coffeemaker gurgles and the mug is steaming full of coffee. Ford asks, “You want some milk or cream in that?”

Joshua nods. “Yes. Cream please.”

Ford goes to the refrigerator again, pulls out a small carton of cream and hands it to Joshua. Joshua eyes the container, a little uncertain. His coffees have always come creamed, and the perfect amount of cream too. He is only barely aware that coffee could be coffee without cream. Ford takes back the container and opens it. As he pours, he says, “When it looks like the color you like, say when.”

Joshua asks, “Say when?”

Ford chuckles again, stops pouring, gives the brew a stir and adds, “There. Isn’t it good to feel like you made a choice? Besides, their nanites’ll fix it before it reaches your lips.”

Joshua takes up the mug, gives it a customary blow and then sips it. “Perfect,” he said.

Ford picks up his chocolate milk, heads to the dining table, and sits down. Joshua follows suit, sitting across from him. As he sits, he queries, “You say that quite a bit, feeling like you are able to make a choice. You make choices all the time, don’t you? Like you chose that chocolate milk, right?”

Ford coolly replies, “Did I? I don’t know, do you? I mean, you think I did. I think I did. Isn’t it amazing there is always fresh milk at my favorite temperature in the frig? …

(Here is the link to the Kickstarter Update of this post, which contains clips from the audio book of the referenced text.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1633173010/the-curmudgeon-code/posts/1354203)

Please consider pledging to this Kicktarter. I feel strongly that “The Curmudgeon Code” deserves and needs to be published.


The Artificials

The Curmudgeon Code KickstarterLet me start by asking that you help me to get this work published. Please pledge. The campaign is almost half way through, and the goal is a long way off.

The antagonist in this story is not a person, nation, or group of people. It is incorrect to say it is technology. There is little in the story that says technology is malevolent. However, the use of technology might result in unfortunate and unforeseen side effects.

The world Joshua grows up in is paradise. Advances have addressed most of humanity’s ills. The crowning achievement of humanity is artificial intelligence, often referred to as AI. In this story, the highest and most common levels of AI are called “Artificials.” The name arises from the realization that technology on this level would not be viewed as technology. It would be seen as a group, a living thing or a living society. It would have a colloquial name.

This technology is all around Joshua. It is so ubiquitous and omnipresent that people give it no more thought than they do the air their breath. It is difficult to imagine existing without it, just as you may have difficulty imagining life without a cell phone or a car.

This excerpt is from The Curmudgeon Code: Chapter 1 – The Curmudgeon Effect”.
(The link to the Kickstater post of this update, which contains the audio book clip of this except, is at the bottom of the text.)

In this update, let me introduce to you the Artificials. Joshua has just finished an artificially produced, perfectly proportioned, perfect tasting meal…

… He leaves the dining room, stepping out onto the patio where he had been drawing earlier.

The city is calm and ordered. People stroll about, though it may no longer be correct to use the term ‘people’. The Earth is heavily populated, but the majority of its inhabitants are Artificials. In the previous century, Artificial Intelligence had made great strides. Manual labor robots with artificial, yet cricket level, brains stepped up to the level of a lizard. The lizard brain moved toward mouse-like consciousness. The mouse became a cat, the cat engineered toward a chimp, and suddenly with final upgrades, human-level Artificial Intelligence awoke. Humans had become gods, developing independent self-awareness.

The Artificials, much like the little animals they had previously emulated, replicated themselves. Following evolutionary patterns, they improved their offspring. Human intelligence became superhuman intelligence, which became intelligence beyond any human understanding. So, as Joshua gazes at his surroundings, which appear as ordinary as a futuristic Rockwell painting, he cannot always be certain of what he is gazing at. Some of the people are in fact not people at all. At least they may not be purely flesh and blood. At times of need or for pure exploration, Artificials can take the shape of humans and move about among them, like the king hiding in his cloak in order to move freely among his subjects. Likewise, he cannot always be sure about the buildings or other fixtures as Artificials can take almost any shape. Walls, floors, entertainment systems, and any other thing the eye might spy can contain smart technologies that can be a complete Artificial, or a part of some larger Artificial, or one of their tools.

Again, please help me to publish this work. Please pledge.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1633173010/the-curmudgeon-code/posts/1351981


Kickstarter Update 4

The Curmudgeon Code KickstarterRecent comments have caused me to reconsider my updating and engagement processes. As such, I will do things differently. For one, I will post the full update on all of the various websites I visit that allow long text. I hope this will generate more engagement, at least on those sites. Additionally, I will include both the text and the related audio book clip in the same update. Those that wish to read only may do so. Those that prefer to listen to the audio book, which often includes music and sound effects, may do that, and those that might want to listen and read along can do that as well. However, please note that the audio clip will be available only on the Kickstarter update page, a link to which will be included on all websites other than Kickstarter. (Link is at the bottom of this text.)

Like any clip or excerpt from a larger work, this requires some set up.

The relationship between Joshua and Scoot is budding. In previous chapters, they have been meeting in the public park, getting to know one another. They meet on a bench that comes to have special meaning to Joshua. Not only is it where he meets and gets to know Scoot, it is where he and Ford used to talk. The bench has some metaphorical importance to the overall story.

In the previous chapter, Joshua invites Scoot to his place to look at his drawings and paintings. In this chapter, Scoot has invited Joshua to her place so she can display her hobby. She likes to make music.

Excerpt from “The Curmudgeon Code: Chapter 13 – Tuning Up”.

Scoot taps at the touchscreen, selecting some recordings, and flowing notes like the gentle caress of water begin to fill the room. The fluid notes are accompanied by random sparkles, and then supported with a gentle rhythm that pulses and grows.

Joshua listens, soaking in the sound, eventually closing his eyes. Images form in his mind. Pencil and paint combine with luminescent, shimmering shapes. With the presence of Scoot all around him, and the drawing of her fresh in his mind, the mental images move and flow with the waves of chords and high notes. He could not tell if the images in his thoughts followed the music, if the music was creating them, or if they came altogether prepackaged as a unit. Regardless, they are one in the same. The images express the sounds, and the sounds enhance the images. He sat, eyes closed, drifting in unreal visuals and floating on the surrounding sound.

He felt the loveseat move, which causes his mental dance to skip a beat. He opens his eyes. Scoot had moved from the music chair to the spot next to him. Her face is dreamy, her eyes nearly closed. He can tell that she sees visions too, and he wonders what they might be.

The two of them sat for quite some time as tune after tune poured into the air. Some were soft and flowing, creating loving images in Joshua’s mind. Some were bright and bouncy, and built brilliant colors that moved and changed shape rapidly. A few were grinding tunes, the heavy, pulsing rhythms taking the lead. They felt primal and passionate, or sexual and lusty. The visions they create pulse and pump.

Each piece speaks to him, and each gives him a glimpse into Scoot herself. Thin, light and bright tunes create images of a young girl frolicking, or playing with her parents. Springy songs conjure up visuals of the full-grown woman dancing and swaying, or playing curious musical instruments. Lush lullabies layer landscapes with dreamy melancholy and visions of Scoot floating on the air, while the primal pulsating pieces craft images of romance and passion. As one piece ends, Joshua craves for the next, the sounds being portals into Scoot’s very soul, and he wished to know her entirely.

With each new sonic vision, his knowledge of her grows. This is communication beyond words. Her orchestrations connect with his illustrations, giving them a life he has never known. Note upon note, beat upon chord, he was building a backlog of images he simply must paint or draw and all of them contain something of Scoot. He yearns for more impressions of her, for more about her life, for more about her soul.

A soft piece was winding down. It had filled Joshua with thoughts of love and family, of parents and future, and of growing old with a trusted companion. As its final notes fade away Joshua internally begs to know more about Scoot, and a somber dark tune begins. The colors in his mind lose their brilliance and fade into chaotic lines and angular shapes made up of sad grays. Curiosity wracks him. These tones and colors are so different from any he has experienced so far. Suddenly Scoot shoots up, goes to the music desk and shuts the tune off. Joshua’s spell broke. Scoot says, “I don’t want to listen to that one tonight. I don’t even know why that one came up.”


Link to the Kickstarter Update that contains the corresponding audio book clip:
Kickstarter Update 4


Kickstarter Update 3

I posted another update on the Kickstarter.
This one does not have a clip from the audio book, but it does include excerpts from the novel.

CLICK HERE.

Share it with your friends.


Bewildered Blues

Bewildered BluesI must confess I am bewildered, confused, and concerned. I feel like I have put in the work, and pressed most of the right buttons, but the results are so weak. The Kickstarter for my new novel has 21 days left. I intentionally went with a short period (30 days) for a variety of reasons. The goal is reasonably small, and I wanted to provide backers with a short turnaround time. It seemed like these were good buttons to push.

I’m not dissatisfied with Kickstarter or the Kickstarter that I produced. I’m certainly not dissatisfied with my new novel. However, I am quite confused with the outcomes. The stats that I am getting are not only bewildering, they are disappointing.

So far, only 51 people have viewed the Kickstarter video. That is 29% of my Facebook “friends”. It is only 5% of my Twitter “followers”. I cannot calculate the percentages from Google+, Pinterest, Stage32, and several other sites, but clearly the numbers are low.

Moreover, of those 51, only 39% have watched the video all the way through. 19 people, 10% of my Facebook “friends” alone. Clearly a fraction of a percent when all sources are combined. If people aren’t watching the whole video, they certainly are not reading the text. They aren’t listening to the audio book passages, or viewing the updates. They don’t have a clue what it is all about or the work that has gone into the book.

I dare not think about what those numbers really mean, percentage-wise, when I consider that a few people (very few) have shared the Kickstarter or some posts related to it. I get that a great many people might not “like” the material, might not “like” the Kickstarter or even the idea of it. I get that many people might not “like” the idea of assisting me, or may not like me. That’s all cool. I get that. But the idea of social networking is that one network connects to another. You might not “like” a thing, but you may know someone who would, someone that the initial purveyor does not know, someone who is not in their network, the tangled and expanding web of networks. You don’t have to “like” something to consider it Share-worthy. As you all know, we know when things are shared. 4 people out of my network of “friends” have “shared” a few posts. No one has “shared” anything from the Kickstarter itself. Is it so un-share-worthy that not even a stranger who may have stumbled upon it has considered sharing it?

I’m bewildered, and confused. Does anyone have any ideas on how to spread the word? Clearly, my circles are too small. My reach is far too short of my grasp. Ideas would help. Please avoid the obvious, though. Right off the bat one thinks of advertising. Well, if I had advertising dollars, I wouldn’t need the Kickstarter.

Are there any clues out there?


A "Labor Day" Special

Curmudgeon Code KickstarterI’ve put together a special “Labor Day” update on “The Curmudgeon Code” Kickstarter page.

The update includes an exclusive excerpt from the audio book.

CHECK IT OUT HERE – and SHARE IT with your friends!


Kickstarter Update

The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter

I have provided a special treat on the Kickstater page…

An entire chapter from the audio book, available only on Kickstater.

CLICK HERE to check out “The Curmudgeon Code” Kickstarter Update.


More than Video

The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter

Did you watch the video?
Is that all you did? :(

There is more to “The Curmudgeon Code” Kickstarter than just a video. Visit the page. Read about the project and help me fund it. The turnaround time for rewards should be quick.

Visit the page here: The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter.


The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter

The Curmudgeon Code Kickstarter“The Curmudgeon Code” Kickstarter launched today!

Check out the Kickstarter page and help me get “The Curmudgeon Code” published – and tell your friends!


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