Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I've finished the second draft on Daughters of Earth and am knee-deep in editting. Hear's the latest installment of Teaser Tuesday. The previous teasers: chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3. In chapter 4 we're back to April 25, 2067. Naomi (the prime minister's press secretary), just finished her press briefing and she had a rough go of it. In this scene, she, being 8 months pregnant, is having her monthly doctor's checkup in the hotel while Yasmin watches on. They're in Tehran for the big Monday Night Football match between Yasmin's Tel Aviv United and Persepolis Tehran.

Tech-note, the PAD (personal access device) is "the size of an antique hardcover book except being only five millimeters thick. The PAD can be rolled, twisted, folded in fours to act as an audiophone, and flattened into a sturdy touchscreen tablet for reading, writing—both typing and handwriting using a finger tip—websurfing, watching videos, or talking to someone via videophone."

And the holomitter is "a small, shiny black conical device that projects a true-life resolution holographic video display while also acting as a webcam."


Modern technology has allowed Naomi to always be under the care of her physician no matter where she traveled. Her doctor has her complete electronic medical record from birth to present which can be sent in seconds to any local hospital anywhere if necessary. Naomi also carries a small monitoring device which the doctor can use to periodically check her and the baby’s vitals. Finally, doctors can conduct routine exams virtually using the PAD and holomitter so that the patient and physician can be in different locations.

Naomi, in short-sleeved white blouse and slacks, stood in the middle of the rug facing the holomitter. The shutters had been closed again. Yasmin reclined in the pillowed settee along the side. She rested her back against one armrest and hung her legs over the other. Naomi called her doctor on the PAD and waited for her to answer.

Dr. Farah’s image appeared on the PAD.

“Good morning, Naomi,” she said cheerfully. She had a tawny complexion and a pretty, high cheekboned face framed by spiky, short black hair. “How are you feeling?”

“Good morning, Doctor,” Naomi said. Just seeing the jovial doctor raised her spirits. “I’m feeling good. Can’t wait for the day.”

“That’s good, and the day will be here soon enough. Are you ready for your monthly exam?”

“Yes. I’m already standing in front of the holomitter.”

“Excellent. We’ll start our weekly visits next week, so you’ll start to get sick of seeing me. How’s Yasmin doing?”

“She’s good. She’s here with me.”

“Hey, Doc,” Yasmin shouted.

“Oh, put me on the holomitter then,” Dr. Farah said and Naomi obliged. The doctor was a huge fan of Yasmin and Tel Aviv United. The holomitter flashed on and projected the doctor’s full size, slightly faded 3D image so it was as if she was in the room with them. “Are you going to win tonight?” she asked.

“Definitely,” Naomi said smugly.

“Good, you better.” She turned to Naomi. “I’ll hand you off to Dr. Kahana so she can do the quick exam. Okay?”

“Sure. I like Alyssa.”

“Great. Call me if you need anything. And, Go United!”

Dr. Kahana’s full size 3D image appeared. She was a petite, chestnut pixie haired woman with almond shaped eyes. “Hello, Naomi. Are you ready?” she asked and Naomi nodded. “Wonderful. Now let me start the exam.” The doctor motioned her hand and a virtual 16:9 screen appeared showing Naomi’s and the baby’s vital signs. Naomi and Yasmin saw everything the doctor saw.

“Everything is looking good,” the doctor said with a grin. “Temperature is good. Blood pressure is good. Respiratory rate is good. Heart rate is good. Let’s all hear that strong heart.”

With the flick of the doctor’s hand the loud pattering echoed in the room. Naomi’s eyes glazed. She glimpsed Yasmin and she smiled in return. Her eyes were moist as well.

The doctor turned off the sound. “Now let’s take a look at that little princess.” She motioned her hand and a 3D image of the fetus appeared floating in the air, five times the actual size. The fetus was head down, with arms crossed on her chest and ankles crossed on her buttocks. The doctor turned the image in the air. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

Naomi whimpered and covered her mouth with her hands. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She had never seen anything more beautiful. It’s been over a month since she last saw her. She was a big girl already, almost like an infant.

“Congratulations, that’s your daughter,” the doctor said.

“I told you she’ll be a footballer,” Yasmin said proudly, tears staining her cheeks.

Naomi laughed. “You maybe right. You think she’ll come early?”

“She might,” the doctor said. “She’s already considered full term right now. Let’s spin her around some more to get a better look.”

As the fetus turned in the air she uncrossed her ankles ever so quickly.

Naomi gasped.

“What the hell was that?” Yasmin blurted and sat up.

The fetus, just as quick, re-crossed her ankles. Naomi wasn’t sure what she saw, but it surprised her nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Half-Blood Prince

Finally saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I thought it was the best of the bunch. Very dark, at times humorous, and filled with teenage angst which is fitting considering that the main characters are supposed to be 17 years old. What surprised me was that according to this New York Daily News article many HP fans are "aghast" as the film "makes much of the book disappear.”

These disgruntled fans take umbrage with the “blown-up portrayal of the blooming relationships between the young characters” and in doing so “left out the majority of the plot.” That the filmmakers left out “all of the Ministry of Magic scenes,” “the huge battle with the Death Eaters who descended on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” and “aspects where Harry was learning about [Lord] Voldemort’s life so that he could understand everything” to name a few.

These fans claim they understand that some scenes need to be cut to fit the novel on film, but do they really? We’re talking about a 652 page novel. The Hollywood rule of thumb is that a script page should equal a minute of screen time. If you compare a standard script page with a page from J.K. Rowlings' novel you’d see that each of her pages would equal about 3 to 5 script page (maybe even more). Putting that aside, let’s say one of her pages equaled one script page then a full adaptation would have been 5 hours and 30 minutes long! It’s amazing that the filmmakers got the movie down to 2 hours and 33 minutes. In other words, the filmmakers had to cut out at least half of the novel just to get a decent film length.

As to the other point about the film focusing too much time on the teen romance, hello! The characters are 17 years old! Of course they’re going to be consumed by thoughts of the opposite sex. These are late teens living together 24/7. If this was remotely real life a film about Hogwarts would have to be rated R. It was masterful how the filmmakers were able to weave the romance stuff with the rest of the story.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Okay, I’m back with Teaser Tuesday for my WIP called, Daughters of Earth. Here’s the teaser for chapter 1 and chapter 2.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 3 which is set in the first story arc of the “present” (this chapter takes place in 2037). It’s part of an interview with the new prime minister, Dassah Shaul and the first lady Leah Abravanel taken a few months after Leah gave birth to Naomi.

Mya Rosner [Interviewer]: Having Renewal Day and Mother’s Day so close together was no coincidence?

Prime Minister (PM): None at all. Renewal Day is the most important day in the history of womankind. It guaranteed a future that so many of us didn’t think we had. It proved that we could all be mothers again if we chose to be. The beauty of BHB is that it uses the genetic material of two women, so although Leah was the one that gave birth to Naomi I’m her mother as well. Thus, Mother’s Day is a holiday for us all.

Rosner: BHB, as significant as it is, also created some legal issues that no society has faced before.

PM: There were many issues that we never faced before, but that’s what happens when you embark on something new. It was no coincidence that a year after the first BHB birth, we were able to hold the first Constitutional Convention with the delegates from all the 35 prospective states. BHB gave us the impetus to build a single democratic nation out of Israel and the Muslim majority countries in North Africa and western and central Asia which had come under Israeli control following the horrors of the Purging. By July 2028 we had full agreement on the text of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Azura, which provided the framework for the new nation and the rights we had to deal with on a secular level such as the right to marry, parental rights, birth rights, and the freedom from genetic discrimination. Two-thirds of the 35 prospective states ratified the Constitution on the 11th of September and a new nation was born. Pursuant to the federal holiday bill, 11 September is the National Day of Azura.

A woman’s will is the strongest thing in the world and by that will we were able to accomplish what we have. Nearly twenty years ago the then American president came to Cairo University and said, “All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together.” That day has come and we, alone, ushered it in.

We cannot forget that in the pre-Purging world there was not only religious, ethnic, and racial strife in the region, but infra-religious strife as well, specifically between Sunni and Shi’a. Yet such animosity is non-existent today in a place of peace for everyone. A nation governed by the rule of law, in honor of God, and in the spirit of feminine fellowship.

Rosner: Whose idea was to call the nation Azura?

Leah Abravanel (LA): It was mine. Actually, defense minister Ziona Massala brought the name to my attention and I looked into it. The 35 states have many different ethnicities here, but are dominated by two faiths: Islam and Judaism, with a growing number of Christians do to immigration. Under the old paradigm we would be looking at why my wife referred to as the “children of Abraham.” Yet that is problematic because such lineage is paternal. According to tradition, Judaism and Islam were born from different sons of Abraham by two different mothers, Ishmael from Hagar for Muslims and Isaac from Sarah for the Jews.

So we had to go farther back for commonality because it made no sense in today’s age to base anything on paternal lineage. That’s how we come upon Azura. She was the second daughter of Adam and Eve. Their eldest daughter, Awan, married Cain. Azura married their other brother Seth. Eve is quoted in the Scriptures as saying, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Cain and Awan had turned away from God. Seth and Azura, however, were the first to call upon the name of the Lord. In essence, they are the mother and father of humanity in the eyes of God. Abraham is a direct descendent of theirs. Once I learned that story, it became obvious that the first nation created by women should be named after humanity’s true mother.

The name allowed us to not be boxed into a description based on religion, race, ethnicity, or religion. We are a unified people regardless of such things, and Azura represents that. We certainly respect those distinguishing factors, but our unity transcends such. In the spirit of this unity we designed the nation’s flag: white Star of David and Crescent outlined in green, red, and black on a deep blue field—all colors taken from the individual states’ flags.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Exactly 3 months ago today I posted an excerpt from the first chapter of my WIP called, Daughters of Earth. I've been dreadfully lax in following up with another teaser. I'm about 10,000 words away from finishing the first draft, so there was no excuse. Here's the opening of the second chapter. The novel has two parallel story arcs set in our time and the post-apocalyptic future. The first chapter was in our time and the second is in the future.

LILAC: Celebrities

Great Expectations: The world’s most famous—and hottest—couple, Naomi Abravanel and Yasmin, prepare for their first child

By Karima Nour
Photographed by Basya Klein
Styled by Gilah Marziano

Posted UTC+2

The photo was bound to shock and titillate, but so did most things Yasmin—the world’s best footballer and LQ’s sexiest woman of the year two years running—has done. Yet this was different. Yes, Yasmin’s photospreads have glossed many a magazine homepage, including this publication on numerous occasions, but not like this. This time, Yasmin featured her lovely spouse Naomi Abravenel, the daughter of two of the Founding Mothers, the Prime Minister Dassah Shaul and the late former Prime Minister Leah Abravanel. In other words, she’s the closest thing we have to royalty here in the great nation of Azura.

Naomi, eight months pregnant, stands nude before the camera, her bent left arm covering her swelling breasts and her right hand up to the back of her spouse’s head. Yasmin, nude as well, stands behind her with only a tantalizing glimpse of her rippling torso. Her left hand is on one shoulder and her right hand is strategically placed below Naomi’s rounded belly. Naomi’s face is turned to the side, her pouting lips parted and ever so close to Yasmin’s. It’s a perfect shot. When the photo was posted on our site in anticipation of this week’s issue it immediately became this year’s most downloaded picture.

Yasmin and Naomi intended the photo to be a celebration of life on the 40th anniversary of the birth of the first child conceived by bioengineered human bimaternalgenesis, BHB, which the editors of Science voted the greatest invention in human history a few years back. Yasmin’s detractors have called the photo needlessly provocative. When she’s not wearing her classic blue and white Tel Aviv United strip, Yasmin is often spotted in retro clothing of push-up bras, high heals, and miniskirts—which accentuate the world’s most gorgeous legs—when the norm is either bare or ComSos[1], fashionable flats, and loose or slim slacks. Her long hair and exotic coiffures are also a point of contention. Her critics claim she is a negative influence on her legion of young fans who want to follow her in wearing revealing clothing and garish makeup such as eye shadow, mascara, and lip plumping lipstick.

“You don’t have to wear constricting attire and be painted up like a clown to be sexy,” chides conservative former prime minister and current opposition leader Ziona Massala. “Why would any woman objectify herself?”

“This is who I am and I’m proud of it,” Yasmin responds. “I’ve always loved the old-time clothing. Even as a little girl I preferred dresses over pants. I’m not alone. These gray-hairs just don’t get it.”

Yasmin is a polarizing figure outside the football arena, adored by the younger generation and reviled by the older crowd. Inside, she is loved by all after leading the Azuran National Team to the World Cup Championship over Brazil last year in her first stint as team captain. Four years earlier at the age of 21 she had taken the football world by storm in leading the national team to the Cup Finals against England in a thrilling match that England won with a goal in the final minutes. Yasmin had a chance to tie, but her shot hit off the crossbar. In the postmatch news conference a distraught Yasmin guaranteed a championship the next time and she was proved right.

Twenty sixty-six was a momentous year for Yasmin and Naomi. After Yasmin led the Tel Aviv United to the back-to-back Premier League Championships last June and then the World Cup Championship in July, Yasmin and Naomi were married in a lavish ceremony at the magnificent Raghadan Palace in Amman, Jordan. The 300 guests in attendance included members of the National Assembly, countless celebrities, and sports personalities. Although security was high, the couple thrilled hundreds of spectators by coming out to wave and thank the cheering throngs. Always outrageous, Yasmin had opted against the traditional wedding abaya in favor of a vintage Nicolas Ghesquière wedding gown.

“We knew we wanted to have a child right away once we got married,” Naomi says. “We had to plan it out as best we could because the football season is so long.” She conceived in late September during the first month of the 2066-67 season.

The baby is due in late May—right in the middle of the playoffs—but Yasmin insists she won’t miss the birth no matter if she’s scheduled to play. “In hindsight, we could’ve planned it better, but who cares?” she says. “It’s not every day you get to become a mother.”

[1]Gigi Limited just released its third generation of “smart” comfort supporters that automatically adjust to the fluctuating breast shape and size during the menstrual cycle and weight gain or loss in addition to what its predecessors provided in proper support for every range of motion without pain or strain to the chest, back, shoulders, or neck.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July, Independence Day +2

It is the 233rd anniversary of the Second Continental Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence. The 4th of July is erroneously referred to as commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document is dated July 4, 1776, but most delegates signed it on August 2. July 2 is actually the pivotal day in this nation’s founding. On that date, the Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.

In fact, on July 3 the great John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

Poor John was off by two days. No one knows why July 2 was supplanted by the 4th, but it happened early. If anything, we can blame Philadelphia. On July 4, 1777 Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, then a year later General George Washington marked the holiday with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute on the 4th.

Since the celebration on the 4th rather than the 2nd happened so early, the myth of the 4th became firmly entrenched. Even John Adams had come to believe later on in life that he and the other delegates had signed the document on July 4.