Discussion: Brand Loyalty War

With the Star Wars trailer out, and my comment about how I’m a Star Trek fan, I thought I’d ask you a series of questions. Where do your loyalties lie? Leave your answers in the comments.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Coke or Pepsi?

Mac or Windows PC?

iPhone or Android?

Dog or cat?

Scrambled or sunny side up?

Bacon or ham?

Coffee or tea?

Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny?

Butter or margarine?

Book first or movie first?

I look forward to your answers. Let the debate begin.

That Star Wars Trailer

So, lots of people are talking about some new movie coming out later this year called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I saw the first teaser trailer and thought, “Meh, whatever.”  So there was a Millennium Falcon in it.  There were characters I’d never seen.  Big fat hairy deal.

Well, then came the second teaser trailer, almost two minutes long.  If you haven’t seen it, here it is.

My thoughts when I watched it? Oh look, a desert with an Imperial Star Destroyer crashed on the surface.  Ooh, it’s Luke speaking.  Oh, Darth Vader’s helmet.  R2D2! And definitely Luke! A woman receiving a light saber.  Oh wait, that was Luke’s, the one he lost! And he said someone has the power of the force?  His child? Then lots of action that looks pretty.  Rey and Finn, two of the new characters.  But then, then it happens.  Millennium Falcon.  The screen went dark.  And we hear it, “Chewie.” The picture comes into focus and there’s Chewbacca with Han Solo!  “We’re home,” he said.  That was what I was waiting to see!

So, it’ll be in 3D.  But while watching the trailer, I noticed how it wasn’t as shiny and pretty as episodes I, II, and III.  It was grittier, like episodes IV, V, and VI.  That’s a very good thing! The nostalgia I felt while watching this was great.  It’s got me looking forward to this so much.

Star Wars and I have an interesting history.  The original movie was in theatres the year I was born.  I saw the movies when I was in elementary school, though.  My cousin loved the movies, had all the toys, and I just watched them.  I didn’t become a big fan.  The late 80s saw me getting into Star Trek, and I was firmly in the Star Trek camp. Fast-forward to Episode I.  I saw it in the theatre when I was in university, and was somewhat unimpressed.  Episodes II and III didn’t impress me, either.  And when Disney got the rights to the movies, I was a bit worried.  But watching this trailer has me excited.  In fact, more excited than I’ve ever been for Star Wars.

I can’t wait!

The Palaeobotanist

We’re at the end of the week for the A to Z Challenge.  The letter P is up, and this is an entirely dialogue driven entry that is going to allow me to focus more on another story thread which has appeared.  Enjoy!

The Palaeobotanist


Southeast of the Cloud Tree

Seventeenth day, second month, second year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (2/17/02 AE)

John Thompson stood on a hill surrounded by a flat plain. To the northwest, he spotted the Cloud Tree, as everyone called it now. He thought it was an interesting name. It was probably the only tree in the world that had its own lenticular clouds. It was twenty kilometres away, but still stood prominently above everything on the plain. Next to him was Malika Said. He met her eyes, then looked down at the hill they were on.

“Malika, do you know what you’re standing on?” he asked.

“I’m guessing it’s more than just a hill,” she said.

“Of course. In fact, I’ve found several of these hills arranged in a roughly straight line to the southeast.” He pointed. “These hills rise from the plain about every fifteen to twenty-five kilometres. It’s kind of like a hotspot volcano. You have one big one at the leading edge, while each one trailing behind gets smaller and smaller. This is the biggest hill.”

“It has something to do with the Cloud Tree?”

“Absolutely. I did some digging here, and found the same material as the outer layer of the tree. The core of the trunk had decayed, so we know it’s soft. But look over there, to the west.”

She looked in the direction he indicated. Small rounded hills and a few longer ones. “Could those be an old Cloud Tree?”

“It’s the remains of one, yes. Somehow, it fell. There was a weakening of the base of the tree, which we are standing on right now. It appears that over time, the natural concrete weakens, and something like a strong storm could knock it down. But what I found interesting is that the ages of all of these hills are roughly every thirty thousand years.”

“So the trees live thirty thousand years, and somehow release a seed which drifts in the wind toward the northwest.”

John nodded. “It appears so. While the Cloud Trees are male, they may spontaneously change to a female at the end of their lives and send off a seed to grow another male tree.”

“Were they solitary?” asked Malika.

“Yes. Only one alive at a time. It’s imperative that we protect the tree.”

“Our opposition has lost his drive to use the wood, I’m happy to say,” she said and smiled.

The Obstetrician

It’s time for the letter O in the A to Z Challenge. Things are shaping up nicely, I think. If you’re wondering about many of these characters, some of them are main characters from Journey to Ariadne and some will be major characters in the first full novel that takes place a few years after these brief stories.

The Obstetrician


New Athens

Twenty-sixth day, eleventh month, first year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (11/26/01 AE)

Placing the newborn baby on the scale, Doctor Teodora Stojanovic smiled. She was privileged to have delivered all four children born on Ariadne up to this day. This was the third girl.

Three thousand one hundred fifty-seven grams, forty-eight centimetres long, brown hair, blue eyes. Normal, healthy, and a loud voice. She wrapped the baby girl in a blanket and carried her to her mother.

“Patty, say hello to your daughter,” she said. She handed the baby to Patricia. Her husband Dan looked down on them with a peaceful smile.

“She’s beautiful,” said Patricia.

“She looks like you, Patty,” said Dan.

“She looks like a frog, but she’s still beautiful.”

“She’s healthy, normal weight and length. And thanks to Ariadne’s more Earth-like gravity, she’s not going to suffer from low bone density,” said Teodora.

“That’s definitely a good thing,” said Dan.

“Do you have a name?” asked the doctor.

Patricia looked at Dan and he nodded.

“We do.” Patricia whispered to the baby, “Hello, Solona. Welcome to your new adventure.”

“Interesting name,” said Teodora.

“It’s Greek,” said Dan. “It means wise.”

“We’ll need a lot of wisdom.” Teodora thought about the injured man in the entrance. Foolishness followed us here. We need our children to grow up wise.

Authors Answer 24 – Brushing up on Grammar

Authors are expected to be good at language.  Good grammar, good word choice, and good spelling are all very important in a published novel.  But do authors study grammar?  This week’s question was asked by Authors Answer contributor Linda G. Hill.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 24: How important is it to you to continue learning and brushing up on basic skills such as grammar? For instance, would you pay to take a course?

S. R. Carrillo

Wow, I’m gonna sound so fulla myself, but I consider myself very well-versed in grammatical conventions. I would not pay for a course. I do, however, ensure I always stay on top of my grammar. It’s always come second nature to me – I used to do editing for years and I’m a pretty vigorous self-editor as well. Grammar is where I excel.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This question makes me feel a little bad about myself, to be honest, because while I do think that it’s important to always continue learning, I am totally unwilling to spend any time or money on such things. Maybe if I didn’t have a full-time day-job and a family to take care of, I might be a little more open to the idea of things like writing courses, but given that approximately 95% of my time and money is already accounted for, and the last 5% is what I actually spend writing, I don’t see me committing to any courses any time soon.

That said, I try my best to learn from my peers, through critiques of my own work, blog posts that writers post concerning their craft, and other such things. I can honestly say that I’ve learned quite a lot in the past four or five years, and I believe my writing has improved tenfold as a result.

Paul B. Spence

Well, I’m taking a graduate level writing course right now, so yes, I think it is very important to continue to hone your skills.

H. Anthe Davis

I’m rather casual about the ‘correctness’ of my writing, and in terms of grammar I really don’t remember any of the rules.  I had a weird middle school experience and missed a lot of stuff that seems to have been basic education in my day, like diagramming sentences, etc.  Frankly I only know what gerunds are because of my foreign language classes.  Nevertheless I seem to do fine in my writing, and I’d rather not have anyone tell me what to do, so I doubt I’d take a course.  I got a Bachelor’s in English (Creative Writing) and I’m never going back.  Never never never.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’d like to avoid silly mistakes and expand on my knowledge, but I don’t see the need to pay for a course when this information is available for free online.  I follow Grammar Girl’s posts, but for the most part I like to think I have a good handle on the language.  People who read my stories might disagree with me.

Jean Davis

I wouldn’t pay to take a course, but I do try to devote time to reading books on writing and working with my critique group. I’ve found it’s easier to see mistakes in other people’s work than it is my own. The trick then is then creating enough distance to go into my own work to be able to apply that knowledge.

Amy Morris-Jones

Since I actually teach English, grammar is kind of my thing, so I won’t be paying (any more) for that kind of class. I do learn new grammatical structures and ways to make writing stronger constantly, though, through what I read or research in my academic field.  I tend to operate under a “continuous quality improvement” umbrella, so if I can find a way to better my skills, I’m there—as long as it’s not super expensive. I tend to feel guilty when I spend too much money on my “hobby.”

D. T. Nova

It is important to never assume I don’t have anything left to learn, even when it comes to the basics, but at the same time, I don’t think my grammar has enough room for improvement to justify paying for a course in it.

Caren Rich

I think it’s very important to keep learning.  The research involved in writing is fun and rewarding. I love learning new things, the more trivial the better. Stagnation is dangerous and boring. I’ve never paid for a writing course, but I would love to try it. Can you recommend one?

Linda G. Hill

I have paid to take college courses online to brush up on my writing skills and I absolutely loved them. I was actually amazed at how much I learned in the grammar course I took; I expected it to be easy. I’ve never been wronger in my life. ;)

But seriously, it’s been two years since I took the course (or thereabouts) and I’m considering doing it again. I love school now that I don’t have to go. (My teenaged self would probably shoot me for saying that.) It’s a challenge. And I love challenges.

Jay Dee Archer

I did take an online writing course last year, but it had nothing to do with things like grammar, and more to do with the creative writing process.  It was free, anyway.

But I am an English teacher.  I teach grammar every day.  I’m immersed in grammar at work and I’m constantly thinking about it.  Grammar is one of my strong suits.  I don’t feel I need any kind of course to strengthen my skills in grammar, simply because it is what I do best.  I’m also very unlikely to make spelling mistakes. Spelling is another of my strong points.  I’m confident with both grammar and spelling.

How about you?

How do you feel about your grammar skills? Would you take a course to improve it? Leave your answers in the comments below.

The Nurse

Things are getting pretty heated in this installment of the A to Z Challenge.  The letter N is here, and in this story, a couple big events are happening.

The Nurse


New Athens

Twenty-sixth day, eleventh month, first year after colonisation, Ariadne Era (11/26/01 AE)

“We need a doctor,” said the security officer, or what passes for Ariadne’s police force. He brought in a man with a bandaged-up face. Sandra Davis, the nurse on duty, thought his face must be a mess.

“Let me take a look. The doctor will be ready shortly,” she said. She got a better look at the patient’s face. “Luc? Is that you?”

Luc Primeaux looked at her with his right eye. “Sandra?” he said.

“What did you do this time? You’re always doing this,” said Sandra.

“He was trying to cut that big tree with a diamond-edged rotary saw,” said the security officer. “That wood is so strong it broke the blade and it went flying into his face.”

“Idiot. You are an idiot, Luc.”

“Do you know each other?” asked the officer.

“We dated in high school.” She shook her head. “Always getting himself into trouble. This is the worst thing yet.”

“Stop talking about me as if I’m not here,” said Luc. “Help me, damn it.”

“I’ll just check under the bandage,” she said. She lifted the bandage from his face and couldn’t hold back her shock. She inhaled sharply. “What have you done?” she whispered. Two pieces of the blade were embedded in his face, one just to the left of his nose, the other straight through his left eye.

The doors opened with a bang and a woman was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher. Sandra looked at Luc and said, “I’ll get the doctor, but I need to check on that patient first.” She ran to the woman who breathed heavily. She was in labour. Then she noticed who she was.

“Doctor Knight!”

Strange Thought

Today, we’re going to Ikea in Shin-Yokohama. I then thought about something. Something you might think strange, funny, or insightful. It’s your choice.

Choose your own adventure books are like Ikea, there are many ways to put it all together, by only one way is correct.

Lame? Corny? Silly?

Also, the A to Z Challenge for today will be done later. So don’t worry, it’s coming. And a lot is happening in that part!

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.


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