Weird Science Wednesday: Benedictine Sisters Demonstrate Hydroelectric Power in the Congolese City of Miti

If you have the water and the technology, it’s hard to beat hydroelectricity as a source of power. African-born Sister Alphonsine Ciza, who had studied mechanical engineering, teamed up with the rest of her convent, the Benedictine Sisters of Agnes, and built a small hydroelectric dam to power their facility in Miti. The Democratic Republic of Congo suffers from rolling blackouts, and relying on hydroelectricity allows the sisters to teach computing programming on actual screens instead of just showing their students the underlying principles in a textbook.

I don’t have a lot of use for the National Catholic Register in general, but I liked this article, which links back to the original Reuters account, complete with pictures of Sister Alphonsine, and also to information a similar hydroelectric plant built about thirty years prior by Benedictine monks in Tanzania.

Hat-tip to Caroline Furlong


Weird Wednesday: Audiobooks!

Thanks to the auto-narrator function at Google Play, I now have audio book versions of four of my novels available:

Shadow Captain
Marrying a Monster
Waking the Dreamlost
Loving a Deathseer

Right now I am working on polishing Shadow Captain’s sequel. I hope to have it published by late December of this year, at which point it will spend 90 days in Kindle Unlimited so that the KU readers of the first book can enjoy it. The audiobook for the sequel will be made available around the time it comes to Google Play, sometime in 2023. Once I have Shadow Captain’s sequel completed, the focus will be on re-editing the Ancestors of Jaiya novels in preparation for their audiobook release, and on a new project to be announced later.

Happy Listening!

Crossdomain “Transmedium” Threats

The Pentagon would have you believe that the truth is out there, although I am not entirely clear on when we started taking the Pentagon’s word for this stuff. I don’t know whether the truth is out there or not, but some days I suspect Robur the Conqueror is.

(Please Note: the film version of Master of the World features Robur’s much more generic airship from the prequel, Clipper of the Clouds. If you watch the film, you will get to see both Vincent Price and Charles Bronson doing their thing, but you won’t get to see any Steampunk Triple Changer that can function as an aircraft, automobile, and submarine.)

Weird Wednesday: We Can Imagine It For You Wholesale

Still trying out wacky prompts in Midjourney, and developing a fresh, if wary, respect for AI-based images. I have actually pretty good versions of my heroines from the Ancestors of Jaiya series, and some more space art for Star Master. I will probably share those at some point, after some more clean-up.

In the meantime, here’s some completely random Midjourney fan art: the main characters from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as pirates. General note: for more old-school actors with conventionally handsome features, Midjourney sometimes struggles to create a likeness humans can recognize (see the Clint Eastwood image below), whereas celebrities with quirkier, more distinctive features fare a bit better (see the Van Cleef and Wallach images below).

Continue reading “Weird Wednesday: We Can Imagine It For You Wholesale”

Midjourney: My New Art Addiction

I’ve only recently started paying attention to the field of AI-generated art, and this Discord-based art AI seems to be one of the most advanced. (If you just want to play with something free and web-based, I’ve had good experiences with Dream by Wombo).

In Midjourney, you type in prompts, the software renders out four thumbnails of randomly generated images based on the text prompts, and gives you the option to create larger, higher-res versions (upscaling, buttons marked with a U) or create new variations on one of the thumbnails (buttons marked with a V). After a free trial of around 25 render minutes, you have to subscribe to continue using it, and in the less expensive subscription you quickly find yourself paying for extra render minutes over and above what comes with your subscription, but the program is set up to where you never exceed what you buy. (You pay in advance for what you think you need, they don’t just let you blindly run up a bill.)

I had some luck with space battles, in case I need new covers for Shadow Captain and its upcoming sequel, but in this post I’m going to show off my Jane Austen fan art experiments. A word of warning: Midjourney has trouble with faces, so a human hand has to step in and do a bit of plastic surgery to make them look not disturbing.

Continue reading “Midjourney: My New Art Addiction”

Real Estate Website That Lists Castles For Sale

I suspect I am the last one to find out about this site, but it’s still cool. Great place to research castles for your fantasy novel, or just daydream about how to spend your hypothetical lottery winnings.

Also, here’s an interesting study from 2018 of how Lake Powell in Colorado suffers from water management rules that favor keeping Lake Mead (downstream of Lake Powell) filled, and by extension favors the lawns, swimming pools and delta smelt of California, the most populous area supplied by Lake Mead.

New Giveaway on Prolific Works!

Happy start of spring! Fantasy author Katherine Wibell has organized a freebie giveaway on Prolific Works (the website formerly known as Instafreebie). She has pulled together a collection of stories and sample chapters that speak of worlds not quite like ours. Some of the covers may not be “safe for work,” but there is a wide variety of worlds and stories represented here.

My contribution is a sample chapter from Slaying a Tyrant, the first book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series: G-rated cover, PG-rated content. Feel free to check it out, if you don’t already have a copy.

New Books in November!

Wilson New Releases Nov 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! So, NaNoWriMo has started, and most of the posts you see from me at this point will have been written a few weeks ago, and scheduled for release during November.

Steampunk author Dean F. Wilson has put together a promotion at SFF Book Bonanza, showing off the latest releases in science fiction and fantasy. He graciously agreed to include Slaying a Tyrant, the first book in my Ancestors of Jaiya series, but there are plenty of other new releases to check out as well. Be sure to click here to check out all the latest books!

Free Kindle Books and Tips

Hello! Free Kindle Books & Tips has graciously agreed to feature Slaying a Tyrant on their website tomorrow, and asked that I share a link to their website. I am happy to do so: I’ve been hearing about them ever since I started self-publishing three years ago, and finally had the chance to work with them. They have a really smooth, well-designed website designed to help readers find free and discounted books, and they even have their own app for Kindle Fire! Click here to check them out!