Welcome

This blog is my “author presence” on the internet, a way for me to share my writing and to communicate with those I know, and don’t know. As always, feedback is appreciated, as long as it is constructive. I look forward to sharing ideas and writing samples with everyone.

I’ve published two books, so far, and have several other manuscripts that I’m trying to self-edit into decent shape. To purchase what I’ve published so far see my author page on Amazon.

 

Where did that lake come from?

When it comes to change, I may not be thoroughly comfortable with the effort, but I at least recognize it has to happen. But I also take to heart the following mantras:

All progress involves change, but not all change is progress.

Likewise:

Is it really progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?

Our current rush to embrace AI might have severe moral and ethical consequences that require human introspection.

Telling the truth can be inconvenient, particularly when an agenda has to be accomplished (paging George Santos). But what if the lack of veracity comes from a machine and not some cash-addled, morally bankrupt political system (yeah, I’m looking at you, Republicans and Democrats)? Case in point, we’re now seeing errors pop-up from using AI to inform when it is, in fact, misinforming. See the following:

https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxnaem/stack-overflow-bans-chatgpt-for-constantly-giving-wrong-answers

Wrong information is worse than no information. Erroneous information can drive decisions to wrong (potentially catastrophic outcomes), whereas lack of information forces delays and further research.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvmep3/cnet-defends-use-of-ai-blogger-after-embarrassing-163-word-correction-humans-make-mistakes-too

It would appear that AI-generated “facts” might need to be fact-checked themselves. While AI systems aren’t necessarily trying to be disingenuous, that doesn’t mean they are always accurate. I see a future need for fact-checking/verification of AI-generated results. Something information providers might want to consider before zeroing out their budget for content writers.

There is also a moral and ethical issue with reliance on AI, particularly regarding health and the need for full disclosure.

https://www.insidehook.com/daily_brief/health-and-fitness/koko-mental-health-artificial-intelligence

Using AI to respond to users without full disclosure could be (and perhaps should be) considered a lack of ethics.

So ultimately, we want to read accurate, factually based information that we can act upon to make decisions that will take us where we want to go. And hopefully not into a disaster:

https://theweek.com/articles/464674/8-drivers-who-blindly-followed-gps-into-disaster

‘Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.’
— Mark Twain

Through the Door (part 5 — consolidated)

[ Inspired by what the AI suggested, here’s a continuation of the story from part 4. ]

Arianna’s heart beat faster. There were at least two dozen of the creatures lurking in the darkness just outside the cave opening. “What do we do?”

“Fight,” Rhinna said firmly. “They must not get beyond the entrance, or we’re all doomed.”

She motioned to groups of villagers near the entrance. “You, you, and you bring your spears,” she said. “Form a line. Four to the left and three to the right. Two behind. Arianna, Magnus, and I will be in the center. When we strike, do it quickly, and don’t let them get too close.”

Long clawed fingers crept over the stones lining the entrance, behind which the demons’ low forms slipped into the cave’s torchlight. Crooked and hairy, the dog-like bodies glistened. In the harsh light, their pupils contracted. Low growls and hissing echoed off the walls. A chill carried in the air.

The young woman hardly had time to think of how scared she was before a shrill screech pierced the air. The demons charged forward, and without thinking, She lunged forward with her spear. 

With a sickening thunk, the spear plunged into the body of the closest creature. Black ichor oozed from the wound, and the demon grabbed the spear. But when it touched the shaft, a sizzling cut through the air and the acrid scent of brimstone cut through the air. The creature shrieked even louder as it jerked back. 

“Forward,” Rhinna shouted. At her command, the villagers yelled, charging the demons. Rhinna and Arianna ran with them, thrusting spears at the beasts. 

Snapping and snarling, the creatures retreated, slipping and sliding across the stone floor until they leaped back through the opening.

Arianna let out a shuddering breath and lowered her spear. Her heart still raced.

Rhinna turned and smiled at her. “You did great, young one,” she said, then clapped the young woman on the shoulder. “Now, let’s get everyone settled and get some rest. We’ll depart at dawn.”

Arianna nodded and returned to her travel bag, relieved they had survived. The villagers were safe – for the moment. But she’d gotten one step closer to escaping this world and on her way home. As she sat on the floor, Rhinna approached.

“We’re going to take turns standing watch at the entrance. We’ll let you know when it’s your turn.”

“Okay. Can I ask you some questions?”

Rhinna nodded and knelt next to her. “What do you want to know?”

“The demons. Have they always roamed around freely at night?”

“For as long as I can remember and as far back as my parents’ and grandparents’ time as well.”

“Where do they go during the day?”

“They appear to hide in the deepest and darkest areas of Aldewater, such as Shadow Valley and Graymoor Forest. No one knows, and those who have tried to find out often don’t return.”

“How do Dathon and his followers stay safe from them?”

“I presume it’s because of the Aldewater tree magic in his staff.”

Arianna yawned widely.

“Better get some sleep,” Rhinna said, patting her knee. “Your turn on watch is in a couple of hours.”

The young woman nodded as Rhinna stood. Before Rhinna went to rejoin Magnus, she’d fallen asleep.”

Magnus nodded toward Arianna. “You think she’ll take Dathon with her?”

“I just need her to get me close.” The older woman thumbed the hilt of her knife. “We’ll be rid of him, one way or another.”

“And if she tries to stop you?” he asked, pursing his lips.

Rhinna glanced at the young woman. “That would be unfortunate.”

[ Going to try AI suggestions for the journey from Great Falls to Freehold. Stay tuned. ]

Through the Door (part 4 with AI suggestions)

[ I let the AI suggest what happens next ( from part 4) without any direction or suggestion from me. Also note this is raw, unmodified output. ]

ALTERNATE 1:

“What do we do?” Magnus asked.

“Fight,” Rhinna said firmly.

She motioned to the villagers. “You, you and you, take spears,” she said, pointing to the villagers with weapons. “Form a line here. You four go to the left, three to the right. Two behind them, then me and Arianna in the back. We’ll need to stay light on our feet and strike quickly. Don’t let them get too close to us.”

The villagers rushed to do as they were told. Arianna stepped beside Rhinna, gripping her spear tightly. The night demons growled and hissed menacingly.

“On my mark,” Rhinna shouted. “Now!”

At her command, the villagers yelled, charging the demons. Rhinna and Arianna ran behind them, thrusting spears at the beasts. The night demons retreated, snapping their teeth and growling.

The fight seemed to last forever as the villagers and Rhinna and Arianna parried and thrust with their spears, eventually pushing the monsters back. Panting and sweating, the two women watched them retreat into the night.

Rhinna clapped her hands. “Well fought, everyone. The night demons have been driven away.” She turned to Arianna. “Thanks to you, we all made it out of here alive.”

Arianna nodded, relieved they had survived and the villagers were safe. “Let’s get some rest and head out in the morning.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Rhinna said.

The

ALTERNATE 2:

Arianna’s heart beat faster. There were at least two dozen of the creatures lurking in the darkness. “What do we do?”

“We hold them back until the villagers are safely inside,” Magnus said determinedly. He pointed at Arianna, Rhinna and a few other strong men. “You four ready the spears and then, on my command, charge the demons.”

Arianna hardly had time to think of how scared she was before a shrill screech pierced the air. The demons charged forward, and without thinking, Arianna launched her spear forward. The demon ahead of her yelped in pain as the spear penetrated its body with a sickening thud. The others followed suit, and soon enough, the demons retreated back into the night.

Rhinna placed her hands on her hips and then let out a relieved chuckle. “That was too close.”

Arianna nodded, shaking and still unsure of what had just happened.

Rhinna turned to Magnus. “Now that that’s settled, let’s get these people to the King’s refuge.”

“Yes, let’s go.” Magnus said, waving at the villagers. “Gather your belongings, and we’ll begin our journey.”

The villagers quickly complied, gathering their meager possessions and huddling together for protection. As the group began to move, Arianna grabbed her travel bag and followed close behind, still shaken by the encounter.

She had agreed to this journey, but still, she could not believe the risks they were taking. Still, she had to prove her worth

ALTERNATE 3:

Arianna swallowed hard, her heart racing as the creatures edged toward them. Magnus stepped up and began reinforcing their position with an aura of confidence. Amulets and staffs in hand, Rhinna, Magnus and the villagers chanted a ward of protection.

The chanting lit the air around them as the night demons edged closer, then stopped as if meeting an unseen barrier. After what seemed an eternity of chanting, the creatures retreated, fleeing across the clearing and out of sight.

Arianna let out a shuddering breath and lowered her spear. Rhinna turned and smiled at her. “You did great, young one,” she praised.

Arianna blushed and nodded. “Thank you.”

Rhinna clapped her on the shoulder. “Now, let’s get everyone settled and get some rest. We’ll depart at dawn.”

Arianna nodded and returned to her travel bag. She’d gotten one step closer to escaping this world, and soon she’d be on her way home.

[ Analysis/Commentary – A little rough, but I was impressed by some of the specifics suggested. I might actually use a fair amount of it, in the next post. ]