Friday, February 14, 2014

A year of projects and a new movie, part 2...

Thanks for stopping by again :-)

So we've already talked about three new paperback releases: The Santa Shop (Samaritans Conspiracy book 1), Red Gloves (Samaritans Conspiracy, book 2), and The Santa Shop, Anniversary Edition (expanded by 40%, including the extended ending written for Hallmark Studios.
Under-Heaven final print version is also in process and will be coming to paperback within the next 6 to 8 weeks.


The Zachary Pill fantasy series is also working its way toward print release: Of Monsters and Magic

With Dragon Fear

and Against the Troll will all be available in paperback within the next couple of months.

Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End (the entire trilogy) will be released in hardback right around the same time. 

What about brand new releases? The final two episodes to Her Yearning for Blood will be available soon.
Also, book 4 in the Zachary Pill series is also working its way toward a Spring/Summer release.

Finally, I mentioned a soon-to-film movie. Unfortunately, I am not able to release details except to say it is a found footage project from a production company based out of Boston and New York. A well-known Hollywood actor/renown singer is funding the project. I came in as a story/script advisor and ultimately came to rewrite large swaths of the script. My son has been asked to join the filming crew, and we're all very excited to see it move toward completion and ultimate release.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A year of projects and a new movie in the works...

Thanks, everyone, for your readership, friendship, and just general support.

2013 was a year of catching up for me. I had 18 months of project obligations and only about 12 months to get them all done. I also found myself riding an interesting wave of collaborative efforts, all of which are still working their way through the production pipeline.  I'm pleased to say that the workload was handled and I'm still standing. The great news is that I now get to enjoy a 2014 filled with new products and releases. Here's a brief update...


The Santa Shop has a brand new look and some text updates. It's also now available in a spectacular new paperback for only $7.99, which is a huge improvement over the $13.95 price tag set by the first publisher and later by Focus House Publishing.

Red Gloves, the second book in the Samaritans Conspiracy series, is also now available in paperback. The list price is just $9.99 but I heard Amazon and maybe some others are discounting it even lower.

The Santa Shop Anniversary edition will also be released in paperback this month. It's expanded by 40% and includes the extended ending I wrote for Hallmark Studios.

I have quite a bit more news to pass on, but the clock suggests that will have to wait till tomorrow. If I didn't mention, a new movie (filming begins next month) is also among my updates for you.

What do you say we talk again tomorrow? :-)

Monday, January 20, 2014

True Story: When my Dead Friend Emailed...

2013 was a sad year for me because I lost two friends. Fortunately, both were writers and left a legacy of books that will ensure they will never be forgotten, or so I keep trying to convince myself. Since this post is not intended as a memorial, I will mention only events not names today. I have to admit, just thinking about those events still leaves me with goose bumps.

In 2012, I received a call from a New York author, let's call him Sam Samson. He asked if I would be willing to help him flesh out a supernatural idea he had been toying with. The project sounded fascinating, so I said yes. We called our untitled collaboration Ghost Story.

For many months, emails flew back and forth and our story slowly came into focus. We had fully developed what felt like a unique premise and had written up to the third chapter about an imprisoned man with a supernatural illness when I suddenly couldn't get my friend to respond to either phone calls or emails. After several days, I became concerned and searched for some contact, any contact.

Unfortunately, after a few days, I learned my friend and cowriter had died of a massive heart attack that took him permanently and instantly away. He will be missed.

Six months had passed when one morning I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails in my box. I immediately assumed I had been struck by a spam bot, but as I perused the names and subject lines, I realized that these were real messages. Why had everyone tried to reach me multiple times during the night?

As I was stewing on this puzzle, an email flashed in the preview box at the bottom of my screen. Sam Samson was emailing me about GHOST STORY.

Eyes wide, I tried to understand. I had read Sam's obituary. I had personally spoken with his daughter after the funeral!

Fingers trembling, I clicked on Sam's message.

"How are you making out with your rewrites?" he asked.

How do you explain to a dead friend that you abandoned his story out of...I don't know, confusion? Respect? Anger at losing him?

This was crazy! I was debating how to answer a dead man. I knew that ghosts didn't exist, no more than my neighbor could speak with aliens over his ham radio. Someone was playing a sick joke.

Refusing to play along, I deleted the message. Nevertheless, I felt as though my entire world had been tilted about ninety degrees to the right and retreated to the porch to feed the fifty or so ducks that typically hang around in the brook beside my house.

Slowly, I calmed down enough to realize that some computer glitch must have occurred. Obviously, Sam's email had been stuck in a digital file somewhere, and had only recently been discovered, not unlike one of those decades-old postal letters we hear about on the news from time to time.

I ignored the whiskey in the kitchen cabinet and returned to my office to find dozens of more spam emails had come in. I skipped right past them, however, because my eyes were glued to a second email from Sam!

I opened his email and felt heat rise to my cheeks.

"Tim, I don't think we should let our readers know the protagonist is dead. Maybe he shouldn't realize he's dead either."

"That's it!" I exclaimed, slamming my finger on the delete key.

I jumped up from my seat and grabbed the phone. I'm not sure if I imagined the local police or state troopers would have a Ghost Busters division, but my fingers hovered over the 9-1-1 keys, ready to dial.

As I stood there, my eyes flicked between the computer screen and the phone. Computer, phone. Phone, computer. At any moment, I expected Sam to send yet another message from beyond. Though more emails poured in, neither his name nor the subject line Ghost Story appeared.

I probably remained in that position for only a few seconds to a minute, but it seemed like forever. Suddenly, everything I had ever believed, everything I had ever known, was being challenged. Was the existence of ghosts possible? And, if so, what else had I been missing? Vampires? The Easter Bunny? The validity of online Bachelor's degrees?

Then, as though being struck by a cold spray of seawater, I jolted out of my sluggish thoughts. Slowly the panic receded as a suspicion began to grow: for some reason, all of my emails from months ago were coming back. Sam having been dead and the subject line Ghost Story may have been--no, were--spooky coincidences, but the more I thought about it the more certain I became that these were old messages being fed back onto my screen.

Ultimately, a call to my mail hosting company confirmed my theory. A recent change in service had caused the system to resend old emails. There seemed to be no solution except to erase the old messages as they came in, being careful not to erase any new ones mixed in.

And so that's what I did. For the rest of the day, every half-hour or so, I erased hundreds of duplicated emails. That also meant seeing Sam Samson: Ghost Story, Sam Samson: Ghost Story repeat itself over and over again.

As I look back, I am ashamed of how gullible I had been. I am also surprised by how strongly, in retrospect, that I wish it had been true. It's not that I want or need to know that ghosts exist, though that would be fabulous to learn--from a distance--its just that I miss my friend, and communicating with even a residual part of him might soothe the wound I'm certain will be with me to my last days.

Here's wishing all the spirits in this world, alive and otherwise, a wonderful 2014!  

Monday, October 21, 2013

All the pieces ready for George Jetson's tea at space restaurant...

Techtrepreneurs have done it again...and in a huge way. Space-X's grasshopper reusable test rocket took its eighth and last test flight on Monday, October 7th.

So what's so amazing about a rocket flying upward? After all, rocket scientists have been successfully launching tubes for decades.

The accomplishment is in the words "reusable" and "eighth." Until now, commercial rockets have been considered disposable. After all, without wings and bereft of fuel, what else can a multi-ton, ten-story tall vehicle do but fall back to earth?

Elon Musk, CEO of both Space-X and Tesla Motors, has committed himself and his fortune to changing all of that. As he explains, for mankind to successfully become a multi-planetary species, we must first learn how to access space safely and affordably.

Before Elon and Space-X stepped into what had largely been a government arena back in 2002, space-bound rockets cost approximately sixty million dollars each and were expected to completely burn up or land charred and useless in the ocean upon reentry to our atmosphere.

Imagine if every time we took a flight from the United States to Europe that we had to destroy the plane. Just how far along do you imagine intercontinental air travel would have gotten?

So, Space-X has been working diligently to build a reusable rocket...and they are almost there. The Grasshopper rocket soared 2,500 feet--a full half mile--into the air on Monday, October 7th, and successfully returned to its launch pad. Simultaneously, Space-X has been doing in-space re-ignition tests on their Falcon rockets, and Elon Musk has recently stated that his company now has all the basics needed to launch a rocket into space and return it safely to earth for reuse.

Now some would say that the space shuttles were already reusable...but not really. It took months, years sometimes, to renovate a returned space shuttle, and those repairs ran up bills of literally hundreds of millions of dollars. It was actually costing NASA more to reuse a space shuttle than it would have to simply send our astronauts up in freshly minted rocket ships.

No, what Space-X is talking about is new and breathtakingly revolutionary. They are potentially months away from launching the first fully reusable rocket ship into space, which means that for the first time mankind will be able to reach orbit for slightly more than the cost of fuel ($200,000) instead of the astronomical replacement cost of a complete ship.

Another company, Bigelow Space, has an entire collection of inflatable, orbital buildings ready for launch, and Space-X has contracts to take several of them skyward within the next few years. Since Bigelow Space is owned by a hotel chain billionaire, it's easy to understand how a George Jetson-style luncheon is not far from reality.

Friday, August 23, 2013

For god's sake, ask!

We are constantly barraged with sarcastic and ironic memes that point a finger directly at "the other guy." I sincerely try to limit that sort of thing, simply because I'm as flawed, if not more flawed, as everyone else.

The truth is that many people fall into the trap of using veiled or outright insults as a way to fight back against the "I'm ignorant and proud of it" crowd. I learned long ago, however, that using my superior size or occasionally superior intellect to skewer anyone was not only wrong but counter-productive.

There is no easier way to be remembered than to injure a body or ego. For instance, try to recall the three people you hate the most: chances are they come almost immediately to mind, bright and clear on the movie screen inside your head.

Every time you drop an insult, even those that seem minor or negligible to you, you are likely reserving a position on someone else's internal screen. Fifty years from now, you might still be there with the viewer gritting his or her teeth at the memory.

All of that said, in an encouraging not disparaging way, I would like to discuss a plague on social media. I'm, of course, referring to voices that proclaim nonsensical facts while simultaneously failing (or refusing) to absorb any additional, clarifying, or opposing information.

Throughout our lives, we have all met people who seem too embarrassed to ask questions. Some, I think, imagine that intelligent people read books all night or naturally brew knowledge in their sleep.

To this ill-informed group, asking questions is tantamount to admitting stupidity. The rest of us, however, know that just the opposite is true: inquisitive and ultimately knowledgeable minds are constantly asking questions and paying attention to the answers.

There are others who seem perfectly willing to ask, but then misunderstand or completely discombobulate what they hear. These are the folks who proclaim crazy, crazy things, like "once every thousand years the moon touches Mount Everest" or "dolphins are smarter than people and have an advanced city underwater called Atlantis."

Okay, maybe those aren't exact quotes, but I think you get the point. These folks might be well-intentioned and sincere but would definitely benefit from more listening and less talking.

Finally, there is another group. These are the folks who liberally misstate facts...and then go to the ends of the earth to defend them.

I have a friend who is much like this, sincere but not always right. She is often heard giving advice and making seemingly astute and almost secret observations.

I recently heard her announce that a local fashion store was going out of business (she knew this because she works in corporate finance and saw how the clothing stock was being steadily weeded down). Given that hundreds of cars surrounded that particular store every day, I found it hard to believe.

With no malice intended, I called the store manager and outright asked if they were closing. He laughed and said the reduced stock happened every year simply because they were waiting for new designer shipments while simultaneously placing clothing on sale to make room.

So what did my friend do when I told her? She accused me of being vindictive and intentionally trying to prove her wrong.

Not once during her angry retort did she ever acknowledge that the information had been false, nor do I think it was a point of concern in her mind. Though she's wonderful in so many other ways, her need to always be right and "in the know" often keeps people from appreciating her many other amazing attributes.

I should also mention another friend. He and I worked together when we were both in our mid-twenties (more than two decades ago). Tom was a great guy but had been totally absorbed by sports rather than scholastics in school.

On several occasions Tom mentioned that he had a great time the previous weekend and that he and his friends had been "belligerent" together. Tom, to his credit was often trying to expand his vocabulary, so the first few times I heard the comment, I chose not to embarrass him.

Probably the fourth or fifth time he misused the term, however, I made sure we were alone and gently pointed out his error. I'm a pretty big guy, 5' 10", lots of years in the gym, but Tom was even bigger, over six feet with a solid, athletic build.

Tom got angry, furious really. Though we were good friends, it seemed that at any moment a serious battle was about to break loose...but then something odd happened: Tom's eyes watered at the corners.

Anyone who knows me understands that I simply have no desire to upset anyone else. Life is challenging enough without adding to other people's woes. I would have preferred a fight to hurting Tom's feelings.

Tom then wiped his eyes and thanked me. He explained that he often felt embarrassed when around educated peers and that he was certain he had improperly used the word "belligerent" a hundred times in the previous month. In his mind, dozens of other people had allowed him to make a fool of himself.

If there was ever a fool among his friends, Tom wasn't the one. Today he is a well-spoken and successful business owner.

Though this post has gotten a little unruly, I simply wanted to encourage everyone to listen and learn as best you can. Ask when you're not sure of something, and take feedback with appreciation and attention.

If you have friends, family, making obvious misstatements, share the facts with them in private. We should strive to never hurt anyone's feelings, but sometimes silence can be more cruel.

I, for one, would find the social media landscape much more fun if it wasn't so filled with disinformation and bickering.

What do you think?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Damn it, you have to smile!

Photo compliment of Robot Island toy store,

I am closing in on my 49th birthday, and I have to say it's a milestone that I never would have imagined hitting when I was a young child. Things were not particularly easy back then and, for reasons that certainly don't matter as pertains to today's blog, I grew up probably a little too serious and somber.

What was the result of that? Simply put, I stepped into adulthood with relief and dove immediately into work and building a life.

I don't regret those years, and I have a wonderful family and comfortable life today because of it. But recently I decided that it was time to smile a little more often.

How, you ask?

That's the trick. It's not the same for any of us.

I know one thing, however: pretending to smile at things because others think you should is not likely the answer. Though there may be something to 'faking it until it's real,' I'd much rather see your smiles come from the heart.

A few minutes after this post, I will walk out of my office, onto a 60-foot porch, and see a hundred ducks waiting for breakfast. I'll smile the whole time I feed them and gaze out onto the brook and pond that sits just fifty feet from my steps.

My three cats and dog also break through any muted moods. Of course, my wife, children, family, and friends all illicit their share of smiles...but today I want to encourage you to fan your happy flames in ways that do not depend on relationships.

Why, you ask again?  It's simply because your joy, your happiness should be generated internally, which in turn will allow you to share it with the important people around you.

I'll give you a for instance: I recently started a robot and space toy collection. Lost in Space, Star Trek and dozens of other toys now take up more than half the shelves in my office. They exist for no other reason than every time my eyes pass that way, I smile.

I also keep old episodes of Casper the Ghost ready on Netflix. I have Richie Rich comics on the shelf above my computer, and I'm not afraid to break out old robot movie and TV shows from the 1950s and 60s. You should do everything in your power to rekindle that childhood joy that easily flickers and goes out if we aren't too careful.

I know it sounds awful in such stark terms, but we are all on an inevitable road to death. And we deserve to enjoy as many hours of fun and humor as possible before that final shovelful of earth is thrown on our grave.

You'll notice that I never once talked about how much you should spend on vacations, expensive watches, new cars, etc.... Sure, those things can be wonderful but it's not my goal to fill your life with financial and other stresses that can come from spending gobs of money.

I'd much rather see you buy Barbie dolls, GI Joe action figures, or even old hubcaps. You might pop over to your nearest shelter and get yourself a rabbit, cat, dog or any other pet that will generate endless hours of smiles.
If vacations are a stretch for you right now, take a walk down a woods trail, drive to a nearby beach, spend a few minutes staring at a mountain view. Fill your house with inspiring photos and art work (which you can find at garage sales and flea markets for very little cost).
The important thing is that we all strive to be as internally cheerful as possible. Do that, and you'll provide a gift to those around you as well.
Thanks for popping by, and thanks for the smile :-)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher--a bridge too far...

The reviews are starting to creep in and it seems to be a universal opinion that Ashton did a yeoman's job in his attempted portrayal of the man who literally changed the face of our tech and entertainment worlds. Unfortunately, however, Ashton's (and, more likely, the filmmakers') attempt fell short.
This author has not yet seen the movie but this blog is not intended to focus on the film so much as to discuss exactly what magical ingredient is it that Jobs possessed, and what is it that left such a void after his passing. Does anyone know?
Maybe we could first touch on Steve Jobs the person. Contrary to many of the things we have all heard, Steve Jobs was neither a villain nor a saint, and his personal life was littered with as many failed relationships as it is was filled with life-long, loyal friendships.
Regarding his first child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs who was born in 1978, Jobs denied being her father for two years while Chrisann Brennan, a Bay Area painter, raised their infant daughter on welfare.  A paternity test ultimately proved that Jobs was not sterile, as he had claimed throughout the legal battle, and that he was Lisa's biological father.
After his death, Lisa Brennan-Jobs described her father, Steve, as the glue that held their family together. Obviously, this means that any past transgressions have been forgiven, which rings true given that she was invited (and accepted) to live with him and her three siblings when she was a teenager.
In 1991, Jobs married Laurene Powell, who birthed their son Reed six months later. In 1995 and 1998, respectively, Erin and Eve became Steve's third and fourth children. Steve's entire family, including his sister Mona (whom he never knew until they were adults because he was given up for adoption before she was born) remember the family workaholic with great respect, fondness, and love.
In short, Steve was a good husband, father, and brother but, nevertheless, simply a man. Neither better nor worse than others.
So that leaves us still wondering: What was it about Steve Jobs that will be discussed, studied, and eulogized for decades and centuries to come? What exactly made this otherwise normal man rise to the level of icon and, dare we say, legend?
We live in a world filled with skeptics that have heard too many sales pitches and seen too many false advertisements to trust hardly anyone. So when Steve Jobs pitched real computer achievements that were even better than advertised, people began to notice.
To be clear, Apple was not a first, second, or even third-time success. It was a company that rode some decent highs and some pretty bad lows until 1985, which was when Jobs fell prey to a corporate coup that led to his removal from nearly all aspects of day-to-day Apple business and ultimately caused him to resign five months later.
After his resignation (an event that Jobs would later refer to as "being fired") Jobs founded NeXT in 1985. Because he cut all Apple ties in anger and short-changed himself in doing so, it wasn't long before Steve's wealth (a seven million investment in the new company) started to run out.

Enter billionaire Ross Perot, a man who believed less in NeXT the company than he did in this young entrepreneur who boiled with such passion. Ultimately, NeXT was to build the computer used to invent the World Wide Web at CERN.

In a sweet irony, in 1997 Apple purchased the successful NeXT company, which by that time had become a software-only designer. It's WebObjects programing became the basis for what would become MobileMe and the Apple and iTunes Stores.

In the meantime, starting also in 1985, Jobs had become deeply ensconced in a new movie venture called Pixar, which led to a string of hugely successful movies and ultimately to its all-stock sale to Disney in 2006. This sale not only solidified Jobs' profile on Forbes' Richest People in the World list, it also gave Steve ownership of 7% of Disney's stock, making him by far that company's largest stockholder (Roy E. Disney, by comparison, had a stake of only 1%).
It's time to recollect that we were attempting to define exactly what it was that made Steve Jobs such a successful businessman and icon to millions. It is likely that we have already stumbled across the answer, but maybe we should step back to that ironic NeXT sale to Apple to best illustrate the Steve Jobs "something" that turned out to be everything.
In 1997, when Apple purchased Steve's NeXT company, it also welcomed its co-founder back into the fold. A few months later, he again rose to the level of CEO and the projects and personnel bloodbath that followed is the stuff of nightmares and legends.
It is right around this time, as Steve Jobs rose from the ashes, that his laser-like vision and devotion to perfection became evident. Steve was no longer a drifter on the high seas of silicon valley, he was instead one of its captains, and this time he knew it.
Steve had for the previous two years already been riding his Pixar employees to a state of fear and perfection, and now he started to do the same with everyone at Apple. Projects and people who were not pushing the company to greater heights were thrown overboard as surely as those more successful, vision-supporting efforts were coddled and rewarded.
We don't need to relive every success that followed, which were myriad and continuous, but we do have to recognize that Steve Jobs 2.0 brought to the table a vision so strong that it literally seeped from the pores of his employees and from the company itself. For years, tech enthusiasts became glued to every word that Steve Jobs spoke, and the reason was simply that Apple's (and Pixar's) product releases always met or exceeded every expectation that their captain had publicly established. If Steve Jobs said you can expect something amazing in two, three, or four months, it happened, and it usually caused jaws to drop to the floor when it did.
Compare that with Tim Cook today. Has he ever inspired anyone with any single word or phrase?
Now, let's not make this a pile onto the poor billionaire event, but suffice it to say that Tim Cook spends most of his time dodging questions about what Apple is or isn't doing. And when he's not dodging, he's usually setting the audience up for low-expectations, of which Apple usually goes on to fall short.   
So the Steve Jobs void is two- or maybe three-fold: we miss his unfaltering vision of a bright and beautiful technological future; we miss his simultaneous ability to lead his companies to that exacting level of achievement; and, most of all, we miss the knowledge that no matter the storms or condition of the sea, our captain would always take us there.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs. We will continue to remember.
If you'd like to learn more about Jobs, Ashton Kutcher's new movie, click here:


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Holy #&$%! The underlying reason for 97 percent of cancers just discovered...

Readers know that this blog is dedicated to either authors or items of real science or news. I try not to fill this space with spurious articles or science too early in its infancy.

A recent medical discovery, however, seems to warrant shouting out the results a little early. Wednesday, the BBC reported that a team of scientists led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK charted 21 major DNA mutations that are the actual creators of 97 percent of all cancers.

We should clarify that the mutations create the cancers but outside stimuli (like UV damage or smoking) cause the mutations. Once DNA is mutated, it becomes susceptible to tumor growths.

So what does this mean, exactly? Why is it important?

A simple example might come from law enforcement. An unknown serial killer might successfully kill dozens of people over an undefined period, but once law enforcement can zero in on the right clues they can often identify the criminal who is then taken into custody fairly easily.

In this case, it has taken medical science hundreds of years to find the specific clues or, in this case, 21 clues behind 97 percent of all cancers. From this point forward, medical experts around the world will turn their keen minds toward testing for these 21 DNA mutations and then reversing them or creating defenses that will stop cancer tumors from getting their initial footholds.

This breakthrough suggests that cancer could be reduced to a rare affliction--not the major killer it is today--within the next few decades, our lifetimes.

You can learn more about this life-altering discovery here:


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mars colony IS happening! NASA testing menu on Mars astronauts in Hawaii...

There is a technological and cultural shift underway, and it is definitely extraterrestrial in nature. While most of us go about our Earth-bound lives, dozens of companies and countries are frantically scrambling to put together various Mars colony missions.

We have talked about many of those efforts in bits and pieces, and in a moment we will check out a Hawaiian study of six men and women testing isolation and food for a space trek. Before we go there, however, it might be worth asking ourselves why all of this is happening now.

In a word: Space-X. In 2002, Elon Musk started his Space Exploration company with the sole intention of rekindling mankind's passion for moving beyond our single-world existence.

He states that there are some very good reasons for roving further out into the solar system and eventually beyond, but first and foremost among them is that our species is a sitting duck for any planet-wide catastrophe, manmade or otherwise. Sure, pragmatists say life has survived on this planet for billions of years and will continue to survive, no matter what.

They would be right.

Unfortunately for the Cro-Magnons, dinosaurs, and saber tooth tigers that is little consolation. And I suspect our ghosts would also fail to appreciate pragmatic logic if and when cockroaches become the sole species on Big Ole Blue.

Aside from a species insurance policy, Elon Musk believes a multi-planetary future gives us something less tangible but even more important: hope. A future of space exploration is exciting and dream-worthy, whereas a dystopian existence on a single crowded planet might be categorized as hopeless.

So, what did Space-X hope to accomplish? Its goal was simple: send a greenhouse to Mars with the hope that it would catch the imaginations of world leaders and spur new interest in space. Somewhere along the way, however, Elon's company was forced to reduce the cost of building rockets, and those savings immediately attracted space payload interest.

In short, Space-X discovered that it could generate enough income to go further than launching one Mars greenhouse. It is now on a mission to become a transportation line to and from Mars and beyond. It hopes to become to modern society what the railroads were to the U.S. in the 1800's.

And, just like the railroad boom, space companies are flourishing and rushing to get their piece of the Space-X dream. Elon Musk is smiling because hope is alive and well.

Though the U.S. government has been nibbling ever-so-slowly at the Mars colonies cookie, it recognizes that mankind is now committed to making that leap. And so, as the grandfather with the most experience in maintaining lives in extra-terrestrial environments, NASA is busy solving the small but important problems, one of which is food.

The space agency has been developing special hybrids of vegetables that could survive and maybe even thrive in the thin Martian atmosphere. It has also been perfecting greenhouses for use on the red planet. Finally, it is now testing recipes and meal interactions among pseudo-astronauts who have been quarantined for four months in a special facility on a lava landscape in Hawaii.

It will be several months before the results of NASA's space food experiment are fully examined, but you can learn more right here:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lifeline or tidal wave? Newspapers hold their breath to see what Jeff Bezos will do…

Many years ago, shortly after the development of a quirky little thing called the internet, many of us heard friends talking about a company that was selling books on—of all things—the computer! Obviously, it was just some college kid trying out a wacky idea.

Fifty billion dollars of personal wealth later, Jeff Bezos can rest comfortably in the knowledge that he proved tens of thousands of us wrong. His company Amazon has forever changed the face of retail, not just in the U.S. but around the world.

Last week, news came out that Mr. Bezos (not Amazon) had paid four times more than current market value for the Washington Post, one of the most well-known and influential newspapers in the world. Of course, there are a few who say he bought a pig in a poke, that he just threw two hundred and fifty million dollars at a company well on its way to being swamped by a dying industry.

But then there are the rest of us, those who remember just how WRONG we were about that in-the-computer niche business that went on to become a worldwide marketing phenomenon. And, so, all eyes are glued to the staid old news company that could become…well, no one knows.

What we do know is that the Washington Post transaction will not officially close for another few weeks. While we wait, the journalistic world is holding its universal breath, one simple question on every mind.

Will a likely Jeff Bezos success be replicable, or will history replay itself and see all his competitors washed away?

Monday, August 12, 2013

We may soon be traveling in tubes at 3000 miles per hour...

If you've ever traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast by plane, then you know it makes for a long, long flight. Even in the first class seats, a full day of flying is just too much.

All of that may soon be changing, and once again Elon Musk (Space-X, Tesla Motors, PayPal) may be the personality behind a massive change. Shifting the paradigm is a term I've heard over the years; disrupting industries is another.

Regardless of how you label his efforts, Elon Musk is serving up civilization-altering ideas using technology that already exists. Some say he is Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Howard Hughes, all wrapped into a modern forty-two-year-old package.

So what's happening now? Simply put, Elon is doing it again.

For nearly a year he has been promising to reveal a high-tech option to California's planned high speed railway. The current plan calls for a super-fast train (built by 2029) to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours at speeds just over 200 miles per hour.

What's wrong with that? From Elon's perspective: everything!

Elon believes he could build what he calls The Hyperloop for 1/10th the cost. He also says it would easily make the same trip in under 45 minutes, would be Earthquake and weather proof, and could run entirely on solar power.

I know, I know. It's impossible, right?

Don't be so quick to judge. Elon Musk has already performed not one, not two, but three industrial miracles that have already changed our world.

He first thought it would be a great idea if there were a way to send money over the internet to any country in the world, without involving all sorts of complications like banks and Brinks trucks. PayPal now does exactly that and more.

Elon then decided that world governments were not doing nearly enough to improve the cost and methods of moving mankind into space. And so was born Space-X, a company that has revolutionized the entire space industry, both in affordability and in technological progress. Next up, according to company leadership: a permanent colony on Mars!

Of course, we also don't want to forget Elon's Tesla Motors. Even as a dozen solar car players have struggled or folded, Tesla has successfully brought long-range electric cars to market. Their Model S currently has customer waiting lists that are months long, and Consumer Reports called it the best car--not the best electric car--that they have ever rated.

Not bad for a tiny South African boy with science fiction dreams.

Today, Elon promises to release his plans for the Hyperloop, a 21st-century transportation system that is believed to consist of individual pressurized cars traveling inside an evacuated tube, likely using reverse polarity to keep the traveling compartments soaring, friction-free, above a magnetic rail.

If a can't-miss personality exists today, it's Elon Musk. And the fact that he's releasing his Hyperloop idea to the public, patent free, suggests that he's serious about displacing our current long-distance travel methods. He says if no one can successfully place the Hyperloop into mainstream use, he will do it himself as soon as electric cars are in every driveway and as soon as Mars has a human colony settled and growing.

Knowing Elon, we might want to think about selling our airline stocks.

Watch the news today for the big release. In the meantime, you can learn more about The Hyperloop transport system here:


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Elysium is science fiction filmmaking at its gritty best...

Elysium is one serious and surprisingly solid science fiction story placed against a backdrop that is just a few degrees shy of breathtaking. Neill Blomkamp and Matt Damon have together created a film that is destined to entertain audiences for years to come.
Blomkamp dipped liberally into his gritty District 9-style dystopia to create 2154 Los Angeles, a devastated remnant that is representative of the great cities that remain on Terra firma. What was once a dazzling metropolis is now a labyrinth of overpopulation, poverty, and desperation.
On the orbiting satellite Elysium, however, the wealthy enjoy a much different existence, one filled with beauty, luxury and, most importantly, health. This pampered sliver of mankind enjoys instant access to state-of-the-art medical technology that can cure virtually any ailment while also extending life by two and three times the average of the unfortunates crawling around on the dying planet below.
Max Da Costa (Damon), an ex-con, is supposed to feel fortunate to have one of the few jobs in Los Angeles, and the truth is he does his job building surveillance robots as best he can. But after being trapped in a room flooded with fatal radiation, he is fired and forced to sign a liability waiver in return for medication that will ease his pain during his last five expected days of life.
Doomed unless he can access the amazing technology in the sky, Max seeks out a criminal mastermind from his past. He makes a deal for portage to Elysium that involves being outfitted with cybernetic implants that will allow him to steal technology from the company that literally stole his life.
Without going into a description filled with spoilers, let’s say that Max is in for a hell of a lot more than he planned. The visuals are spectacular and the logic holds up better than we’ve come to expect from Hollywood.
The acting from everyone including Jodie Foster is solid, and the ending will leave you with a lot to think about. Elysium gets 9 out of 10 stars from me.
You can learn more about Elysium and see the movie trailer right here:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Interview with spiritual author Cesar about his YA novel Boy Who Dreams...





Today, in the Forum, we have a fascinating spiritual writer who goes simply by the name Cesar. He’s here to talk with us about his YA novel Boy Who Dreams.

Tim Greaton: It’s great to have you with us, Cesar. I guess the best place to start would be early in your life. I understand you had a shocking experience when you were a child. You could tell us about it?

Cesar: I remember being at my grandmother’s flat in Portsmouth as a child, I guess I would have been about seven or eight and I was searching for my Transformers toy and looked under an armchair only to find a head staring back at me. It was a ghost, I guess. Although, now, these many years later, I am unsure whether it actually happened or not. Either way, I chose to include this story into my book Boy who Dreams. The same thing happens to the character, but at school.

Tim Greaton: Many authors are bubbling wells of creativity. The same is true for you. Could you tell us about your other creative pastime?

Cesar: I really enjoy painting Celtic art onto canvas and furniture. My favorite of my paintings is the Celtic tree with interlocking branches and hundreds and hundreds of perfectly shaped dots that form Celtic patterns of leaves.

Tim Greaton: What genres do you read? 

Cesar: Though I read most genres, it’s mostly YA or fiction. Sometimes I do read historical or psychology books, as they interest me a lot, too.

Tim Greaton: I count at least five of your books available now. Could you tell us a little about some of them?

Cesar:  As you mentioned, we’ll be talking about the Boy Who Dreams today. That was my third book. My first book, Prayers Poems Songs was a collection of thoughts and prayers that I wrote when I was a teenager.  My second book, Book of Prophecies, was probably the first published book of its kind since Nostradamus in the 16th century.
To see the rest of Cesar's interview right now, visit

Friday, August 9, 2013

How would you like your steak...printed or Petri dish?

A certain author has been a vegetarian for going on twenty years. Now, it's true my choice was first made for health reasons (lower rates of heart disease and cancer) because a close friend had just died of a brain tumor, and my wife and I took care of his toddler children for a day while his wife dealt with her loss and the funeral arrangements.

However, I could easily have made the same choice for animal humane reasons, for environmental reasons, or even for just plain fear of steroids and other livestock food additives. It would appear, however, that the time may soon come for me to revisit the entire issue.

The current technological revolution will soon produce actual steak, fish, and chicken in lab-grown environments. And, though slightly farther out on the horizon, 3-D printers will soon be assembling proteins, piece-by-piece, not unlike the way food was created on the starship Enterprise.

So the real question is: how long will it take for these new technologies to move into mainstream acceptance? How long before you and I will actually add these foods to our weekly purchases?

I believe the sea change for lab-grown and printed foods will happen fast, making them the choice for the majority of us almost as soon as the processes are universally available and affordable. No surprise ingredients and no slaughterhouse horror stories--that's a hard combination to beat, especially if flavor and texture is top notch.

You can learn more about the $330,000 lab-grown burger that was just eaten here:

To see where the 3-D food printing technology stands, check out this article:

By the way, both of the above articles appeared in THE Washington Post. Should it surprise us that Jeff Bezos (Amazon Owner and fifty-billionaire) just purchased the paper that commonly reports on the cutting edge of technology? My money says it will soon be the tech-paper of record for much of the world.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Absolutely True! NASA is working on Star Trek-ish Warp Engine!

There have been teasers floating around about this for six months now, but we now know it is true: NASA has begun investigating a possible warp drive to send spaceships soaring at faster-than-light speeds. The impossible dream has now become the investigated dream.

Elon Musk of Space-X hinted a few months ago that he believed faster-than-light travel was impossible but that it might be possible to bend space in some fashion so that two distant points would effectively be much closer together. Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking have both published books that along the way attempted to simplify the concept of flexible space.

The best example I have ever heard (which originated with one of them) goes something like this: imagine our solar system as a huge piece of black rubber stretched across space. Now imagine that someone has pinched and pulled out one section of the rubber: that is what a planet or the sun looks like.

The point being: gravity already has a slight warping effect on space and time. I suppose a warp drive might artificially increase that pinching effect.

In any event, this is simply one more example of how science is finally getting around to revolutionizing human existence in the big ways that were envisioned by science fiction writers starting more than a hundred years ago. With changes like this on the horizon, there is reason to believe the current worldwide economic doldrums will pass!

To learn more details about NASA's efforts, click right here:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mars colonists meet in Washington State to prep for one-way trip...

Space enthusiasts rejoice, because for the first time in human history a race is underway to colonize another world. Remember, our last space race was simply to orbit the Earth and visit the Moon, but currently there are at least a dozen organizations prepping real Martian colony plans (there are a couple dozen viable space colony programs afoot if you include plans to colonize the Moon).

We have talked about the various Mars programs by NASA, the European Union, Space-X, and others, but it's been a while since we talked about the Mars One program. Here's the Mars One description from "Mars One is a non-profit organization that plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2023. The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced official plans for the Mars One mission in May 2012. [1]"

On Saturday, August 3rd, a group of 50 applicants for the program gathered at George Washington State University to discuss the permanent colony that will begin launching one-way colonists in 2023. This program is non-profit and is already receiving gobs of funding from corporate sponsors.

Why are corporations interested? Simply because Mars One is going to be the first extra-terrestrial reality program ever created.

While we watch colonists train, fly, and settle on the red planet, corporations will be reaping the advertising rewards of millions of viewers around the world.

You can learn more about Mars One right on their website here: You can learn more about Saturday's meeting in Washington right here:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Avatar, the #1 movie of all time, will have three sequels...

The latest box office tally for James Cameron's masterpiece Avatar has it earning $760,507,625 in the U.S. and Canada and $2,782,275,172 worldwide. Yes, that makes it the number one movie of all-time.

In case you're curious, Cameron's Titanic takes the #2 international slot, and it's #3 domestically, behind Gone With the Wind, which is #2 domestically adjusted for inflation.

If you'd like to see all forms of movie box office charts (including how much each actor's movies have earned) as well as weekly box office numbers and news be sure to save to your favorites. It's a must-see site for movie fans.

James Cameron's team has just announced that there will be three--not two--sequels to the blockbuster of blockbusters. Production for the next three Avatar movies will simultaneously begin in 2014, and they will be released in December of 2016, 2017, and 2018.

You can find out more right here:


Sunday, August 4, 2013

We relived a scene from Stephen King's Pet Cemetery....

Thanks for stopping by.

I posted a note to my Facebook followers today, letting them know that my daily messages can now be found on Pinterest. Feel free to swap and share however you like.

Those daily images are "free share" and so are my words. If you make T-shirts or some such thing, let me know and I'll spread the word for you here and around (royalty free, of course, as long as you buy a Tim Greaton book sometime in the next twenty or so years) :-)

This morning, I spotted an exciting news article about a cure for Alzheimer's being close. I would have blogged about it, but in my quick perusal it seemed that this miracle drug still has a little ways to go.

I promise we'll talk about it when it gets closer to mainstream availability. In the meantime, you can learn more here:

I'm sorry to say that our rabbit died on Thursday. He was deathly ill this spring, so I placed him in a large 8x10' grassy pen, which was attached to an 8x10' shed.

Somehow, even after the vet failed, he came out of it and seemed to enjoy the last couple of months. I noticed he was sluggish the last week or so, however.

Anyway, we will miss Rascal/Fuzzbucket/Fuzzy. We will also eschew any further rabbits, largely because my wife is allergic to them (which Rascal taught her) and because it's sad to have them spend all their time alone.

Unless they are siblings or grow up together young, they tend to fight with each other, or so I'm told. Also, males will eat their young if they are left together after the tiny ones appear.

Finally, we have the story of ghost cat. My son came into my office, mid-week last week, and said that an elderly neighbor was at the door.

An orange tiger cat had been found dead a few houses down. We have two orange tiger cats, one having been given to us by my daughter a few weeks back (for reasons I have yet to fathom).

Anyway, my seventeen-year-old son and I followed the woman to the body, where my son unequivocally stated, "That's Molly." Because she was so skittish, new, and tended to spend most of her time in his room, I acquiesced.

Though she looked a little thinner, I thought it was because she had been squished in traffic. Sadly, we brought her home and buried her.

Not long after we put the shovels away, my son appeared in my office again, face white, with one of the most confused and frightened expressions I have ever seen. "Dad, Molly is purring in my room."

Figuring we were either reliving a scene from Stephen King's Pet Cemetary or that I had gone from hardworking writer to perverse pet corpse thief, I decided to call the police. They informed me that they had been looking for a dead cat spotted by a driver and asked if I would mind digging it back up.

I proceeded to do just that, and was thankful that I had buried the poor thing in a trash bag so my transgressions had not soiled its fur. I did, however, explain to my son that IF the bag turned up empty, the police would be leaving with the undead creature purring in his room.

Unfortunately for the mystery cat, and some poor family missing their pet, the body was still there and available for travel when a policeman arrived. My son and I promised not to steal any more furry corpses just before he drove away.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

How can you disrupt your industry and our world?

Our world is teetering on the edge of a precipice, and on the horizon is a gaping black pit known as hopelessness. This blog and its author are known for optimism so this is an odd way to begin a post, but it's imperative that we identify the problem before we prescribe a solution.

When we say hopelessness, we might also mean "less hope." Here's a litmus test: do you believe that life will be better for your children, your grandchildren, your nieces, your nephews?

If your answer is yes, then you might find this post pointless. Unfortunately, too many of us have felt just the opposite.

In comparison to twenty years ago, it's harder to earn money, more money is needed, and job/business prospects seem to grow tighter, even bleak with time. Some would say that our world is swirling around a very large economic drain.

It doesn't have to be this way...and this author is not convinced it will be. "Why?"

We need only to look at Elon Musk for that answer. Elon, as readers of this blog know, is the founder of Tesla electric cars and Space-X, the space exploration company that is actually profitable and cutting the costs of getting into space every single day.

Past blogs will talk a little about those efforts, but what we're focusing on today is what is commonly known as disruptive technologies. But what does that mean?

Disrupt simply means to upturn or replace, and that's exactly what Tesla motors is trying to do: it's trying to replace gasoline engines with all electric cars. Profit is not the motive for Tesla, getting the entire population driving electric cars (whatever the brand) is their sole goal.

Space-X is doing the same exact thing...only with cost reductions and quality improvements. They are perfecting materials and technologies to get us into space more cheaply and safely (next up is a reusable rocket that can return to Earth and land on its own legs, which will reduce the cost of launches from sixty million to three million, or less).

Of course, both companies need to pay the bills and seek to make a profit as they grow and develop, but the key here is that profit is only a secondary (though necessary) consideration along the way to the main goal: to change their industry dramatically.

So, that's our point. The internet has disrupted everything from mail, to phone, to banking, to shopping. The list is nearly endless.

But has the internet improved our lives?

It has if you consider email is instant and free. It has if you consider that few people pay long distance charges anymore.

It has if you like the convenience of checking your bank balance, paying your bills, or even scanning checks at home to deposit them. The internet has also improved things if you consider that matching a cup and saucer from your grandmother's china set might have been impossible twenty years ago, and today you can find one in minutes or less.

Finally, I would like to point out that people all over the world can now learn, communicate, and enjoy the benefits of a modern life through minicomputers known as smart phones. The third world finally has a shot of catching up to the rest of us.

There are still thousands of industries that need someone to shake them by the throat and drag them into the 21st Century. Change can lead us to a bright future with improved jobs, wages and life for everyone.

What's required?

That's a great question, and only you can answer it. Technology exists to change everything, and if we will all step up and change our companies, our workplaces, our hobbies, we will find huge improvements sweeping this world.

Is there a better, more efficient, more profitable way to do something at your place of work? Tell the boss and make it happen.

If you own the company, look for incremental changes. Stack up one hundred tiny one-percent changes and you've disrupted your company and chances are your industry by one hundred percent.

Disrupting our world has provided tens of thousands of high-paying jobs to people in the United States while also earning Elon Musk billions of dollars.

What can you do? Are you up for the challenge?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Researching pressure cookers earned one family a visit from Homeland Security...

We often think of ourselves as living completely free and private lives, but here in the U.S. (and no doubt to some extent in all countries) that is not entirely true. Michele Catalano of Long Island, NY found out the hard way.

She and her husband were researching pressure cookers for a family recipe and the word got out. The police say that they received a tip, but it's at least as reasonable to assume they pulled her search history off the internet.

Now, fortunately for the Catalanos, their interest in pressure cookers was innocent but had it not been, many of us might feel entirely differently about the invasion of privacy. Safety versus freedom, freedom versus safety: it's an equation that is rising to the top faster than many of us realize.

The recent spate of "government secrets" being released by U.S. citizens is very likely the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. government does spy on all of its citizens, but the real question is: do we want it to; is it worth the tradeoff to avoid other 9/11-types of events?

This author remains highly-aware and concerned but undecided. How about you?

You can find in-depth information about the Catalanos and their ordeal here

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Scientist who cloned Dolly the Sheep may bring woolly mammoth back to life...

We have talked about the possibility and maybe even the likelihood of extinct species being brought back to life. Of course, many of you remember the famous T-rex and raptors from the Jurassic Park movies.

What many may not know is that there is a veritable race to clone exotic species underway. The real question is not will it be tried, because that is happening in many labs around the world even as we speak. The real question is 'Will it work?'

DNA degrades over time and after thousands of years has missing pieces. In the Jurassic Park movie they solved that problem by combining DNA with that of a frog (if I remember correctly). In real life they are trying all sorts of things, including using an elephant's DNA to bridge the gap for a woolly mammoth.

You can find out more about Sir Ian Wilmut's thoughts on his chances for success here and information about the 2015 next installment in the amazing movie franchise can be found here

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Remember when life was filled with endless possibilities...

There was a time that we all believed we would be famous sports players, movie stars, or leaders in other fields. If every child who ever had such a dream saw it to fruition, this world would be stuffed full of...


What would have happened if we all achieved our wildest dreams?

There are some that would say mediocrity is necessary for achievement to shine by comparison, but maybe, just maybe, we could have pulled it off. Maybe there really could be a professional baseball team in every city. Maybe we could make ten movies a day, just to keep all the "famous" stars busy.

Imagine if everyone you knew were reaching their highest potentials. Regardless of what that future of "everyone succeeds" would look like, it would be a magnificent world.

We would likely already have settlements on every planet. We might be flying instead of driving to and from work.

Wars would be a thing of the past, and hunger would be nothing more than a distant memory studied by successful and productive historians.

So what do you say? Start right now and imagine yourself reaching that potential!

Take a few minutes and recollect those childhood dreams. Now breathe new life into them!

It's not too late to get that degree. It's not too late to open that business you always dreamt of owning.

All it takes is a decision.

Breathe deep...and live!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Make excitement part of your life...

Let's face it, we all get bogged down in life sometimes. What we don't realize, however, is that an existence of challenges and meeting challenges wears us down.

It peels away tiny bits of us, a layer at a time, until we are nothing but shells, shadows of our former selves. If you have ever wondered where your childhood wonder and fascination went, this is exactly what we're talking about.

That's not to say we're unhappy or maybe not even dissatisfied, it simply means that there is a sliver of this life (maybe much more) that we're missing. What would it be like if every Christmas was as magical as your best one during childhood?

What if every day was like your best birthday ever? It can be like that, but we have to remember to find the excitement that we lost.

Did you ever collect sports cards, dolls, plastic dinosaurs? If so, go get some right now and put them on a shelf at work, at home, wherever you will see them daily, preferably hourly.

Are you worried what people will think? Oh, contraire: every time someone asks about your collection, you'll smile with your response.

What about trips? Do you travel? 

What if that's not in the budget? Then take a walk, ride a bike, sit at the nearest beach or mountain ridge.

Go see a movie for no other reason than because you can. Have you ever seen an advertisement for play or comedy show that that piqued your interest...well, go!

Notice, we haven't referred to jumping out of planes for the first time or even surfing when you can't swim. Excitement simply means smiling.

Find a smile every day and hold it for as long as possible.

Your life is worth it!