Thursday, October 22, 2009

International U.F.O. Sky Watch


Now this is a neat idea. Beginning this Saturday, October 24th, people all over the world will be watching the skies in the first International U.F.O. Sky Watch. It starts at 12:00 a.m. on the 24th and ends at 12:00 a.m. on the 25th, wherever you are. For one twenty-four hour period, we'll all be focusing on the skies. Who knows what we'll see?

Make sure to have a camera and/or video recorder handy, and if you do see something, share it with the organizers at the International U.F.O. Sky Watch website. I'd also love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Summertime Speelunking at the Caverns of Sonora



Okay, now we really are back, having caught up on the various things my writer insisted we do before she'd let me back on my blog again. One of them, by the way, was the Muse Online Writers Conference, quite the best source of writing craft and advice we've found yet on the Web. It's over for 2009, but if you're interested in penning your own masterpiece, make sure to mark your calendar for October 2010. The workshops and forums are taught by published writers and industry professionals, and best of all it's free. My author, Barbara Romo, and her fellow author Sherri Godsey, who help Galvistor and I on our joint blog, talked about how they occasionally allow us to blog, too.

On to what we did last summer ~ yes, even aliens get vacations. Hannah and I joined my author and her husband for the UFO Festival and Roswalien Experience 2009. Now I'm a city alien, really. I like the little Earth luxuries like gated mansions, five-star hotels, gourmet dining...you get the picture. Hannah, until she had the good fortune to marry me, primarily lived out of an ancient, and temperamental, Chevy van, while she drove all over the Southwest recording the stories of alien abductees. I think sometimes she actually misses those days. And my author and her husband like to "see the sights" on their way to their destination and, believe it or not, they like to camp. Now I generously suggested that my private pilot could pick them up in Laredo and take us all on to Roswell. This is reasonable, I thought; after all, I wasn't suggesting we all take Brost's ship, which would have been much faster. (Brost is a friend of mine I'll talk more about later - he has the most amazing cloaking gadget on his little craft).

Sigh. Sometimes I really don't like democracy. Everyone but me wanted to drive. All 579.96 miles of it. So I spent the first night of my vacation sleeping on the ground in a tiny campground which only a bat or my author could have found in the dark. And I mean dark. We were 15 miles outside of Sonora, in west Texas, the first stop on our trek. Even the moon was gone by the time we made camp.

Then the sun came up, and I have to admit, even to my critical eye it was pretty. Several deer were close enough to watch us watching them. After a breakfast at a local eatery (thank Alwynn my companions didn't demand a cookout as well), we returned to tour the attraction associated with our campground, the Caverns of Sonora. They are well worth a stop.

I'm not much on going underground myself ~ none of us Olam are particularly fond of caves ~ but the decorations were truly beautiful. That's what they call stalactites and stalagmites, and all of the other bacon, flowstone, popcorn and other amazing formations. The cave is "live", still growing, so it's very humid down there, even for someone like me who is used to Houston weather. But I don't know of anywhere else where a visitor can come so close to the wonders that can be created out of mere minerals and water.

Unfortunately, someone did the unthinkable in 2006 and broke off a piece of one of the most ethereal of the cave decorations, the Butterfly. The damage, for which no one has yet been charged, prompted the State of Texas to sign into law stiff penalties for cave vandals. If you'd like to read more about the Butterfly case, go to the Caverns of Sonora website. That's where I borrowed the photograph at the head of this blog. Check out their photographs - this is quite a beautiful place.

Next time: Arriving in Roswell.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We're ba-a-ack!


It's difficult to believe summer is nearly gone.

We've been to Roswell - yes, I have pictures! - and taken a nice long drive across Texas. I've met other ufologists, authors like my own writer, and even royalty - see today's interview with Shaila of Isoladia at www.dragonsandaliens.blogspot.com. My writer is even almost through with her next story, the Prodigal Alien, in which I have a cameo appearance. Over the next few weeks, I have a lot to tell you.

My writer, sadly, suffered a loss this summer. Hannah and I went with her to her home town of Dallas several times, where she was able to spend time with her siblings - an activity I envy, being both an orphan and an only child. But then again, I have Hannah, who I hope will consent to appear on this blog in the near future. In the meantime, my author just made a guest appearance on www.romancejunkies.com earlier this week. I know she'd be pleased if you stopped by to say hello.

Well, the Princess has kept me up very late, and even us aliens need an occasional nap, so I'll leave the rest until later. Talk to you again soon.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dark Nest by Leanna Renee Heiber


Just a quick note today to herald the news that Dark Nest, by Leanna Renee Heiber, is a 2009 Prism finalist.

Leanna is a fellow author at CrescentMoonPress, who also published Undercover Alien. The PRISMs are awarded every year to the best in science-fiction, fantasy and paranormal romance by the FF&P Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

My author and I met Leanna at the Romantic Times convention in 2008. She's a lovely lady and quite a talented writer. Congratulations, Leanna!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I See ET


Could bendable glasses be of alien origin?

Yes, they could, at least indirectly. According to an article by Billy Cox of the Herald Tribune out of Sarasota, Florida, material recovered from the famous 1947 UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico, might have been reverse-engineered to produce the memory metal now used in bendable glasses, among many other applications.

So all of the glasses-wearing sports enthusiasts, as well as the merely accident-prone (like the author of my story) may have us extra-terrestrials to thank for their durable eyewear.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dorothy Kilgallen and Things We're Reluctant to Admit


Browsing through the “non-Earthly” anniversaries this week reminded me of a brief story by Dorothy Kilgallen, a reporter for the International News Service back in 1955. On May 23 of that year she issued a press release indicating she had received information from a high-level contact in the British government regarding an alleged UFO crash, including his confirmation that the craft was definitely not of Earth origin. Her story was linked to a rumored UFO crash in 1946 at Spitzbergen, Norway.

A number of legends surround the crash, few of which can apparently be confirmed, including the alleged involvement by retired US General James Doolittle and the craft’s subsequent transport to the United States on the USS Alabama. Most ufologists discount this story as being more in the realm of legend than reality.

What I find interesting is not the crash itself, but how the information was treated. Ms. Kilgallen was a reporter during a time when women in the profession tended to be relegated to “lighter” news, and she was in fact quite famous as a Broadway columnist. However, she began her career as a crime reporter and her coverage of the Sam Shepherd case (the wrongly-accused doctor portrayed in the movie The Fugitive) was instrumental in helping him to gain a new trial. She also interviewed Jack Ruby, the killer of the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, and publicly criticized the Warren Commission investigating the assassination. Obviously, Ms. Kilgallen was a reporter not afraid of difficult stories, yet her 1955 press release on UFOs seems to be presented as a strange aberration in the bios I’ve read about her, if it is mentioned at all.

With more than a half-century having lapsed between the 1955 press release and today, we’ve learned a woman can report the news as well as a man. Why are Earthers still struggling not to be embarrassed by the possibility that UFOs may truly be not from this planet?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Pow Wow


What do veterans and a Pow Wow have in common? A lot, if you were with us in Laredo, Texas, this past weekend.


Hannah and I, along with my writer Barbara Romo and her husband, Roland, went to the 16th annual Memorial Day Pow Wow, where Native Americans of several different tribes, including Comanche, Sioux, Mescalero, Lipan, Cherokee and Aztec, honored war veterans.


A great storyteller named Emma (I wish I’d caught her last name) had all of us as fascinated as the small children present with her stories of how Crane got her long legs from flying Rabbit to the moon, and how Rabbit got his big ears because he failed to tell the other animals what the Creator told him to say.


Everyone, that is, except my writer’s husband, who was sidetracked by an interesting gentleman who turned out to be Xavier Delapass, the organizer of the American Indian Council of Laredo, and a Comanche. He’d noticed Roland’s Comanche Nation t-shirt - Roland is a historian and the Comanche tribe is of particular interest to him – and Roland noticed Mr. Delapass’s t-shirt. Coincidentally, it had “Romo” on the back. Not in honor of my author, unfortunately, but a more famous Romo named Tony.


After the storytelling, we browsed booths with jewelry, art, dream catchers, CDs, and other items for sale. I have to admit, I’m partial to Native American flutes. My Hannah is more of a classic rock aficionado. (he says the flutes put her to sleep, but if you know my Hannah, sometimes that’s a good thing.) But I snuck in the purchase of one, anyway. It’s the best place to get music from local groups.


Then came the main event, the reason we were all there. Men gathered around a large drum, beating and singing, as veterans brought in the flags. Among the veterans present were a 92-year-old veteran of World War I, Luis Martinez, and Juan Benitez, a Mescalero Apache Vietnam Vet. I’ve been to a lot of ceremonies in my lifetime, in majestic buildings and awe-inspiring locations, but have never been more touched than by this simple service in an ordinary linoleum-tiled room, with florescent lights and a dance floor formed by rows of stackable chairs. These were the men who were willing to give their life because they believed in their country, even when it failed to treat them well. We, the observers, were honored by their depth of understanding, of forgiveness, as well as by the sacrifices they made.


Dancing followed the ceremony, and if you have never seen the incredible costumes created by the “fancy dancers”, and how they can make them come alive, you are missing a wonderful show. But the best dance for me was the performance of the Hoop Dance by a gentlemen who has been doing it for longer than he wanted to admit. His dexterity was impressive, the dance itself unlike anything I’ve seen before, but unfortunately the show was stolen by his two-year-old grandson. Apparently a frequent audience for his grandfather, he was given his own miniature set of hoops to keep him occupied. Unfortunately, he decided he’d help his grandfather by giving him the various stacks of hoops before they were needed, which necessitated, I suspect, a somewhat faster dance than was intended. And then, when it appeared that the grandfather had one more hoop than he needed for his dance, the show became a contest between how quickly the grandfather could dispose of the extra hoop his grandson had just given him – without the grandson noticing – and how quickly the toddler noticed and brought it back anyway. In the end, the ever-patient grandfather had to simply add the extra hoop to his dance, leaving a very satisfied toddler.


One day, I hope we’ll return and see that same toddler as a young man, performing the hoop dance his grandfather taught him. And I hope he never has to go to war.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and I have spent several hours wondering how best to express my emotions with regard to this planet. In the end, this video said it all. It was taken by the Mercury-bound Messenger spacecraft, courtesy of NASA:



We live on a tiny, fragile orb in a vastness filled with wonders. Yet seeing this planet disappear in the distance is the loneliest I have ever felt.

Let's do all we can to make sure it is around for many millenia to come.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thanks For The Handshake, President Obama

Is anyone besides me tired of the uproar over United States President Barrack Obama shaking hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez last week?

No, of course President Chavez isn't someone most citizens of the United States would like to take home for dinner. Yes, President Chavez will use the handshake for his own political purposes; he's a politician. No, he hasn't shown much respect for the United States or its past and current leadership. But why should these facts mean the handshake was wrong?

What was the alternative? Should President Obama have ignored him, or traded insult for insult? Like it or not, President Chavez is the current leader of his country. He deserves to be treated respectfully, simply out of respect for the people he represents, even if he hasn't personally earned it.

Putting all the hype aside, how does one treat an ordinary bully? By behaving as the bully does? Or by being the more civilized one and treating him as he ought to be treating others? Yes, sometimes one has to defend oneself against bullies, but President Chavez is not likely to order an attack against the United States, except with words. And as the old Earth saying goes, "sticks and stones..."

The proper response was to treat the Venezuelan head of state as one would treat any other head of state ~ with polite courtesy, and an eye toward what the future might hold for the relationship between their two countries. And unless one wants the future to hold more insults and posturing, then the handshake was the proper response.

It's been suggested that the handshake may have originated as a gesture to show that the hand held no weapons and was therefor offered in peace. Sounds like what Earthers need are more handshakes with their adversaries, not less.

My DNA is Your DNA



We may have more in common than you think. See the article by Brandon Keim, Humans and Aliens Might Share DNA Roots, over at Wired Science.

Of course, I'm depending on it for my species to survive. But that's another story...

Galvistor, A Puzzled Scotsman, And Me


Finally back at work again! My writer has been otherwise occupied, slaving over a second book to follow Undercover Alien. She just admitted she's been rewriting a scene that simply wasn't working, and just figured out the problem - both of her protagonists need to be conscious.

Sigh. You see what I have to deal with?

At any rate, she did find time to help post an interview Galvistor and I did at our joint blog, Loquacious Dragons and Quizzical Aliens. Sir Cameron MacLeod, a decidedly displaced Scotsman, graciously took the time to visit with us. His story is told in Sandy Blair's A Highlander for Christmas.

From the reaction of our assistant typist, known to all as the Wikipedia Addict, he is exactly what she wants this year.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"They Will Take Care Of Us, One Way Or The Other"


Greetings, all - please forgive my long absence. My writer has been down with one of those mysterious ailments you humans collectively call "the flu". But I believe we're back. Not one-hundred percent, mind you, but on our way.


There was an interesting article last week by Jeremy Hsu on Live Science - you can link to it by clicking on the title of this blog. It's the first of a series on artificial intelligence, in which several experts in the field discuss its use in the military.


Robots performing some of the more dangerous jobs of soldiers does not distress me in itself, although I would have preferred if humans had never develop weapons. Can you imagine what your planet might have been like if fighting among you was limited to what you could do to one another simply with your hands and feet? But creating weapons is as common among technologically advancing civilizations as creating any other tool, and using robots is not a bad thing in itself.


What disturbs me is the assumption that robots can make more "ethical" choices than humans can. If humans aren't making correct choices, why aren't more resources being dedicated to determining why and working toward solutions? When the advancement of human behavior is supplanted in favor of progress for artificial intelligence, humans have entered dangerous ground.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Loquacious Dragons and Quizzical Aliens


Just a quick note today, because my writer and I are still at ConDWF in Dallas selling and signing Undercover Alien, but Galvistor and I have posted the second half of our discussion at the beach. You can find us at our shared blog, Loquacious Dragons and Quizzical Aliens.


If you've ever wondered what an inebriated dragon is like, stop by and see us.

Friday, February 20, 2009

We're At ConDFW VIII This Weekend!


My writer, Barbara Romo, will be at ConDFW VIII, a science-fiction and fantasy event this weekend in Dallas, Texas, with copies of our book Undercover Alien to sell and sign. We'll be joined by Sherri Godsey, the scribe for Galvistor the Dragon, with her new book The Dragon's Veil.


The convention starts today and goes through Sunday afternoon. My significant other and I will be wandering around enjoying ourselves, and there's a lot to enjoy ~ a multitude of reading, writing and art-related workshops, chats with famous authors, contests, movies, a vendor's room (where my book will be!), an art gallery, movies, and, of course, filk!

Click on the ConDFW VIII icon to go to their website for information, and come join us!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's One Way To Get Around


Last week I had a wonderful time posting on the "week in history" and I've decided to make it a regular feature. My writer thinks it's just so I can have more to talk about, but truly, I love to look back at what's happened and how much the world has changed. Or not.


This week marks the birthdays of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473), who spoke the revolutionary words "the center of the Earth is not the center of the universe", and of Nasir ad-Din at-Tusi (1201), Persian philosopher, scientist, mathematician and astronomer who survived the invasion of Genghis Khan's Mongols by convincing them to take him on as a scientific advisor. It's also the anniversary of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb in Thebes, Egypt (1923), the publication of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the launch of the Russian Space Station Mir (1986), and the first United States manned space mission, piloted by John Glenn in 1962. Quite a week.


Considering the humbling scientific accomplishments of this week in history, it might surprise you to discover I want to talk about bicycles. But there's a reason for this ~ the draisine was patented this week in 1818 by Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun. The draisine was the forerunner of the modern bicycle, and the bicycle has been on my mind today, because my writer proudly forwarded the picture of her niece taking her first ride without training wheels. Her bicycle is adorable, with a pink frame, the requisite streamers on the handles, and white (although not for long) wheels.


Now, as you know I've been around for a while, and I can remember when the bicycle was, well, edgy, to use modern terminology. It went through a number of recreations from 1818 until the 1890s, when the "safety bicycle" with its non-teeth-jarring pneumatic tires, cushioned seat, chain drive, adjustable handlebars and coaster brakes made it appealing to a wide audience. A hundred and ten years ago it forced the introduction of clothing appropriate to the sport (and considerably liberated otherwise corseted and petticoated women), plus provided a method of transportation for the middle class that was much less expensive and troublesome than the horse and carriage. It also raised the ire of preachers who thought the new tandem bicycles encouraged a shockingly unchaperoned state among young people, of merchants who anticipated a bankrupting loss of hat sales due to the impossibility of wearing same while pedaling at breakneck speeds of ten or so miles per hour, and of physicians who thought bicycle riding would arouse distressingly amorous feelings among their female clients. (I don't even want to touch that one).


The fears eventually passed, of course, along with the fad. The bicycle became a childhood toy on one hand and a sleek sport vehicle on the other. Little girls like my writer would grow from pink and white bikes to nifty ten-speeds, which took so much concentration my writer once accidentally pedaled into an open manhole, resulting in an accident which makes her feel much safer in a sedan. But she still fondly remembers the freedom (at lesser speeds) of her bicycling days.


For more information on today's birthdays and events, check out Today In Science , and for a wonderful source on bicycles and other fads, read Panati's Parade of Fads, Follies and Manias, by Charles Panati (HarperPerrenial 1991).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Undercover Alien Reviewed at Marta's Meanderings Today


Undercover Alien was reviewed today over at Marta's Meanderings


Thanks, Marta, for the kind words!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Wasn't An Olam. Really.


This has been an interesting couple of days, what with the fireball caught on film by a reporter in Austin, Texas. Austin is not all that far from where I live and as soon as it appeared on the news, I was besieged with calls from the few who know what I really am.

No, it wasn't an Olam. Don't you think we'd be subtler than that? Yes, my alien form is, essentially, a ball of light, but we don't as a rule plummet through the atmosphere like a falling rock the size of a bus and the consistency of concrete. Which, apparently, is what that fireball was, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. We are light creatures ~literally ~ and can take up very little space when we wish to go unseen. Now, that doesn't mean arriving Olam haven't impersonated meteors on occasion, to avoid the hassle of having to wait to sneak down to the planet on a very bright day, but not this time. I've been assured of that.

Having the ability to take on a form which allows one to fly wherever one wishes, without the bother of toll tags, parking meters or even a vehicle, can be very convenient. Except when one is mistaken for chunks of barbecuing space debris, which is why I spend most of my time in my human form. It's so much easier to explain, and frankly, my significant other likes it better, too. She's still trying to relate to the being-in-love-with-a-giant-light-bulb (her words) nature of our relationship.

I imagine if you haven't read Undercover Alien, you probably have a few questions ~ like why is an alien involved with a human? Actually, for anyone fascinated with such things (and you know who you are) it's rather simple, and entirely anatomically possible. A long time ago, my species lost the ability to produce female offspring and would have become extinct if they hadn't figured out how to reproduce with an alternate host.

I won't bog you down with the scientific details, much less the logistics, but essentially all modern Olam are the product of both Olam genetic material and the genetic material of a non-Olam mother. This is also where our ability to change form comes from; we can shape ourselves into both an Olam and the form of our maternal parent. So I can be Olam and human. Some of the oldest of my species can take on other forms as well, but that takes centuries of study and practice, so don't expect me to entertain at your next party by impersonating something on the buffet.

We don't have a home of our own, so there are Olam living on most of the inhabited planets in this galaxy. The reason our planet no longer exists is a story for another time; I only bring it up because I am thankful every day my mother was human. I can think of a lot of entities I would rather not be, like an Xatrobrian, for instance. Slimy, irritable beasts. And my significant other wouldn't have liked it, either. Trust me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is E.T. Already Home?


Very interesting article over at Wired Science about today's talk by Arizona State University astrobiologist Paul Davies at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences meeting. Check out The Hunt for E.T. Comes Home-To Earth, about the possibility alien life is already on Earth.
Sounds reasonable to me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2008 CAPA Award Nomination


My author has posted an excerpt of our book today, over at the Romance Studio's blog. Undercover Alien was nominated for a 2008 CAPA Award and today's the day. You can connect to their site by clicking on the title to this post.
Check it out, let her know she has our support. You know how writers are ~ contantly in need of reassurance. Even the ones working with the best aliens!

Friday, February 13, 2009

It Came From The Sky


The collision this past Tuesday between two communications satellites sparked some conversation at my place this week. In case you missed it, a U.S. Iridium 33 communications satellite collided with a non-working Russian military communications satellite almost 500 miles above Siberia. Surprisingly, this type of event is extremely rare -I say surprising because there is a lot of material orbiting Earth. This collision created an estimated 500 pieces of debris, which adds to the 18,000 man-made objects already in orbit.







Of course, the 18,000 objects aren't all satellites - although with the first satellite launch all the way back in 1957 and an average of 200 satellites launched per year since 1964, according to NASA, there are thousands up there.

The reason why this created a stir at my place goes back to a recent post on this blog (See Is This A Good Idea? ) where a reader forwarded a photo and a comment about the size of some of the items falling from space. We went looking for more fallen space debris and found this "Top Ten" list at Space.com..




...where, among other things they note that objects ranging from titanium water tanks to large chunks of SkyLab and the Mir Space Station have found their way to Earth. Then my writer relayed her memories of one day just over six years ago.


February 1st fell on a weekend in 2003, and my writer and her husband drove to Livingston, in East Texas, to attend a Civil War reenactment, a favorite activity for both. (One would think she would be content relaying the activities of erudite extraterrestrials, but she has the occasional odd yen to camp in a damp canvas tent and eschew all modern conveniences.) At any rate, that weekend found them up early, already wandering among the tents and cooking fires while visiting with various soldiers and camp followers. If you've ever been to a reenactment, you'll know they can feel surprisingly real, because the participants work very hard to make them as historically accurate as possible.


So it was while listening to Confederate soldiers talk about the homes they left behind, watching a Yankee cavalry officer saddle his horse, and smelling the coffee boiling in front of a laundress's tent, that my writer and her husband first heard about things falling from the sky. The news trickled in slowly, in bits and pieces. Families who arrived at the park before noon told of a rare daytime meteorite shower, the next wave thought that a satellite might have broken up, that strange chunks of debris had been found in small town parking lots and residential backyards. By noon, grimmer rumors were circulating, and by early afternoon they were confirmed. The Space Shuttle Columbia had disintegrated on reentry, with loss of all crew aboard.


Everyone has their own memories of where they were and what they were doing that day. For as long as my writer lives, the past and the future will be inextricably entwined. Each time she lights the wick in their lantern and hangs it from the shepherd's hook in front of the tent, she'll think of the crew of the Columbia and what they gave so humans could take the next step into space.





Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stuart Sees A Spaceship


It’s halfway through the work week and my writer thought you might like to take a break from my philosophy and read one of the scenes she wrote for Undercover Alien which wasn't used in the final manuscript.

For anyone not yet familiar with my story, Stuart Kellerman was the bane of Hannah Morgan's existence, and didn’t make my job easier, either. Stuart was a tabloid reporter who had once used Hannah to try to get a story. After I'd failed to convince Hannah I wanted to use her for a much greater purpose, Stuart had the misfortune of spying on me while I caught a ride home in my friend Brost’s spaceship. Fortunately, Brost’s ship was cloaked at the time, so Stuart had no photographic proof. He did come away with a bump on the head and what looked like a nasty sunburn, but that’s what a spy gets for straying too close to a lift-off.

Not realizing Stuart had spotted us, Brost and I went back to my home, where I busied myself planning my next move and arguing with Brost over just what that move should be. Brost, like Hannah, is an opinionated sort. Did I mention he’s also small – less than three feet tall – and blue? At any rate, Stuart had the gall to sneak into my estate and try to catch me being an alien.

As if I would be that obvious…



This has to be the place.

Stuart’s heart raced as he steered the rental to the side of the narrow country road and stared across at the wrought-iron gate blocking the entrance. Beyond the gate, a graveled drive cut a long swath through dense pine forest before disappearing around a bend. At the end of the drive, he would find the home of the reclusive Gideon Cyrus.

He’d hit the jackpot with his call to the flunky who manned the all-night news desk at his paper. The guy had found this address, along with confirmation that Cyrus owned not only this estate, but a station in Australia, a dozen or so expensive homes and condos in various jet-setting hotspots around the world, and a private island in the Caribbean. Cyrus might have gone somewhere else, or left Earth entirely, considering his mode of transportation. But Stuart had a hunch he'd stick as close as he could to Hannah. The alien had a thing for her. Go figure.

The street address he’d been given had been less than useful in this area of largely unmarked, private estates. He’d taken so many wrong turns he’d lost count, until he’d thought to buy a round of beer in at an icehouse in the last no-name town. Someone would always dish the dirt on the richest guy in the area.

According to a local redneck, Cyrus was a nice enough guy but rarely seen in town. He treated his staff fairly and chipped in generously when asked to support the local Little League team or the volunteer fire department. Stuart had posed as contractor on his way to give Cyrus a bid on home improvements, which turned out to be a fortuitous disguise since Cyrus apparently used a lot of contractors, especially electricians.

He steered the car back up on to the road and cruised slowly past again. At least a mile of ten-foot-high brick wall, its top clean of the barbed or razor wire often used to discourage intruders, formed this border of the estate. There had to be sensors of some kind, though. Nobody rich lived without security.

Unless aliens didn’t worry about mere burglars. Making a u-turn, he passed the gate and continued several hundred feet to a dirt road that branched off on the opposite side. He drove the rental far enough back to hide it from the view of passing vehicles, grabbed his backpack and walked back toward the entrance. The gate was electronically controlled, the box with the mechanics inconveniently placed inside the fence. He was trying to think of a way to get in when he spotted the pedestrian entrance. Made to look like a part of the main gate, the design of the smaller gate blended in almost perfectly. It had a normal key lock rather than an electronic control.

He let out his held breath, blood pounding in his ears. This is it. If there were cameras, someone was watching him now. Or maybe they don’t need cameras. Maybe they’ll just zap me where I stand.

Ten seconds passed. Thirty. At one minute, he took another deep breath and crossed the road. Pulling lock picks from his backpack, he went to work. He’d learned the skill years before while doing research for a story. It had gained him entrance into more than one place someone hadn’t wanted him to be.

He slipped through the open gate with his heart in his throat and quickly left the gravel drive for the relative cover of the trees lining both sides of the private road. Hiding behind a large pine, he waited another agonizing minute, listening for an alarm, a car racing up the drive from the direction the house, sirens in the distance.

When nothing happened, he slung his backpack over one shoulder and followed the drive toward the house keeping to the edge so he could jump into the concealing woods at a moment’s notice. Every time his foot disturbed a pebble, or some small animal rustled through the canopy above, he jumped.

Then, rounding the second turn, he saw the house. Built of white stone, it dominated the top of a wide, sloping clearing, its three stories gleaming against the deep emerald forest to its rear. The front windows were dark, but he wouldn't try to go into the house itself. He only wanted to sneak a few photographs of the alien and his ship, then get away as fast as he could. Now that he knew Cyrus was more than just a spoiled billionaire, he never wanted to meet him again, face-to-face.
Keeping to the protection of the woods, he moved toward the rear of the house, which was as fancy as the front. In front of him a cabana as big as his apartment stood perpendicular to the house. Across a broad expanse of flagstone surrounding a swimming pool, a glass-roofed sunroom jutted out from the opposite side. Beyond it all, a tamed riot of landscaping segued into the forest.

With the onset of dusk, several low wattage landscape lights had blinked on, but they were no match for the light spilling from the sunroom. He squinted against the glare for several minutes, thinking he saw something go by the waist-high windows, but after several minutes of seeing nothing move, he decided it had just been his imagination.

On the second floor, the only light seemed to come from a lamp on a table near a single window. Just then, someone walked between the light and the window, and stood as if staring out into the night.

Cyrus. “Gotcha,” Stuart whispered, even as he drew back further into the shadows. He didn’t think he could be seen from inside the house, but no point in taking chances. His hands were shaking as he aimed the camera at the window. What would an alien do when he thought he was unobserved?

Cyrus leaned over and turned off the light.

Well, hell. He waited a moment more, but when it looked like Gideon wasn't going to come back downstairs, he decided he might as well look around. The ship had to be somewhere on the grounds. Why else would Cyrus want to live in the middle of a frigging forest? Of course, it might be invisible like before, but he knew what to look for now. A clearing, with crushed vegetation in the center. And who knows, he could get lucky.

Exchanging the camera for a flashlight, figuring he could use it once he was out of sight of the house, he scanned the edge of the terrace for a path into the woods. It didn’t take long to find. After the first turn, he switched on the light. Then he turnd a curve, saw something large and shadowy ahead beyond the range of the light, and slowed cautiously. Whatever it was, it sure wasn't cloaked, but it might be booby-trapped. He wouldn’t put anything past an alien, especially a sneaky one like Gideon Cyrus.

When he got close enough to make out the details, he snorted in disgust. Figures. He stomped up the steps of the wooden gazebo, but it didn't hold anything except bare benches along a low railing and a puny fake fireplace in the center. The night desk guy had relayed some of Cyrus’s reputation with women, so chances were he didn’t use this place for meditation.

He almost snorted again at his own joke, before realizing the alien might have taken Hannah somewhere like this in order to seduce her. He had a brief vision of her lounging seductively on one of the rustic benches and dismissed it with a shrug. He’d never seen her naked, much less doing anything remotely seductive. Hell, she’d never let her hair down the entire time he’d dated her. Probably just as well. No woman would wear those baggy, unattractive clothes if she had a real figure to show off.

So why did it irritate him he’d never had a chance to find out?
Preoccupied, he’d already started to retrace his steps, when he realized the woods were no longer quiet. A low, steady thrum vibrated the boards beneath his feet, making the hairs rise on the back of his neck.
It was the sound he’d heard when Cyrus had approached the phantom ship. Holding his breath, he spun slowly in place and tried to locate the source.
Over there. On the other side of the gazebo, a path led further into the woods. This one was less traveled and he had to brush aside the occasional branch and step over roots as he followed the twists and turns.

The pulsing grew steadily louder.

When he could see a light shining through the trees, he switched off his flashlight. Adrenalin surged as he slipped the camera from his pocket. He’d take some photos now, then hide in the forest and wait for Cyrus’s return.

It’s real. It’s real and I’ll have the proof.

I’m going to be famous!

Then he rounded the final corner, and there it was.

The egg-shaped ship rose more than two stories in height and was supported by three girder-like legs. The light came from a narrow opening around its middle. Angled downward and pulsing gently, it cast a soft glow that filled the clearing.

A mosquito flying into his open mouth reminded Stuart why he was there. He spat and rubbed his face with not-quite-steady hands, then aimed the camera. Muttering to himself, he jerked his gaze away from the ship to stare at the screen. “Maybe if I angle this way…” Stepping backwards, dodging sideways to avoid a tree, he tried to get a shot that included the whole ship. He had to take two more steps, and when he came up against something too short to be a tree, he absently reached back with his hand to shove it aside.

It shoved back.

“Arghh!” Pivoting, he tripped over a root and sat down hard, the flashlight jabbing him in one hip. Reflexively he rolled the other direction and the camera slipped from his grasp.

He lunged for it, but not fast enough.

A small but sturdy toddler-sized boot slammed down on the camera, grinding it into the dirt.
Stuart rolled to his knees, prepared to chew out somebody’s irritating little brat.

And stared straight into glittering turquoise eyes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Give Up

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I have an uncanny connection with those little slips of paper found in the cellophane-wrapped treats given out by Asian restaurants. More often than not, fortune cookies seem to have relevance to my life. And, in this case, my writer's life.

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
She's been saving this one for more than a year and a half, because she received it shortly before Undercover Alien was accepted for publication. Some of you may not be familiar with my writer, but she finished her first full-length book and started down the bumpy road toward publication in 1989 - twenty years ago. Between 1989 and 2007 she wrote several others, including the story of my life.
She entered scores of contests, from which she received many compliments and several wins, and submitted her work to even more agents and editors, from which she received the advice to not quit her day job, if they responded at all. More often than not, she simply received back the postcard or self-addressed-stamped envelope she'd provided to them with a form letter of declination, making her wonder if anyone was bothering to read it.

In between, she lived life like everyone else - moved four times, married, lost friends and family to age and illness, added or deepened relationships and allowed others to move on, and began to wonder if it would serve her better to let the writing go and simply live life without the constant reminder of an unfulfilled desire. In August of 2007, she decided her dream of being a writer was just a part of childhood she was long overdue in surrendering. But a friend convinced her to enter one last contest that fall, and she did, more to please her friend than from any conviction she'd ever see her book in print. She won the contest and a contract, and Undercover Alien came out in April of 2008.

My writer wants me to point out it was more her friend's belief in her than her own belief in herself that let her to finally become a published writer. But I say the cookie's fortune still applies - it doesn't matter what keeps you moving toward your dream, it just matters that you do.

How can we ever be sure what might come next? The next book could be the one which aces the contest, grabs an editor's attention, becomes the darling of the best-seller list. Today might be the day you feel your body start to heal, land your dream job, find your soul mate. Today could even be the day the satellite dish picks up the signal that lets humans know they really aren't alone and I can finally come out of the extraterrestrial closet.

After all, I ate half the
cookie
. It's only fair.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let's Adapt to Change


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

Mr. Darwin’s birthday is February 12th and I have been thinking about change lately, how each of us deals with it in our own way. Change can be welcome, when our lives make a turn for the better or when we finally arrive at something we have been working hard to achieve, and change can be frightening, especially when we feel as if the life we understand might be morphing into something which might require from us more than we think we’re able to give. But how we cope with the latter does more to define who we are than anything else.

This is also the week, on February 9th, 1950, when United States Senator Joseph P. McCarthy accused over two hundred officials in the U.S. State Department of being Communist infiltrators. It’s said that Senator McCarthy was simply an opportunist looking for a way to obtain the national spotlight, and the accusations were so shocking he certainly accomplished that. But the aftermath, which lasted for years and ruined the lives of so many people, was the responsibility of those who allowed their fears to overwhelm their good sense. We’d like to think this could never happen again, but we can see seeds of the same whenever someone is told that to question the actions of one’s elected officials is equal to being unpatriotic.

On the other hand, this week also marks the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, and the 2002 march in Tel Aviv organized by Gush Shalom, a coalition of Israeli peace groups, to protest their own government’s attacks on Palestinian civilians. It also marks the birthday of Fang Lizhi, astrophysicist, whose essays inspired the student movement in the People’s Republic of China that led to the confrontation at Tienanmen Square in 1989. Change is
not easy, but it is possible, especially for those of us, human or otherwise, who are brave enough to take a stand. Besides, how else can Earth prepare for the moment when the rest of the universe's inhabitants decide it's time for humans to become fully participating members?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Writing Science Fiction and "Inventing Reality" by Rob Bignell


My writer was not happy with me this weekend. Apparently I am spending too much time surfing the Internet and not enough time helping her with our current project, a book to follow Undercover Alien, which is so overdue to the editor that she is not amused (the writer, although probably the editor as well). So I am posting on writing today, briefly and succinctly so as to allow her a chance back at the computer as well as to let her know I really do know what's important in this relationship of ours.

Specifically, she discovered a writing site a few days ago. Created by a talented writer named Rob Bignell, Inventing Reality is a one-stop-shop to introduce the beginning science-fiction writer to the basics of writing fiction, and a good refresher for the more experienced writer of the elements about which one is never too old to be reminded. My writer is more of the romance writing sort, rather than science-fiction, but she insists the basics are the same no matter the genre.

So if you're writing, thinking about writing, or just trying to figure out what writing is, head over to Inventing Realty. The link is to the right under "favorite sites" as well as embedded in the title to this post.

There, Ms. Romo. I'm done. You can have the computer back now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spaceport America

Browsing the web again today and checked on the progress of Spaceport America, a construction project currently underway in New Mexico. I met a few of the engineers involved in this project last July at the Roswell UFO Festival. My writer and I were selling my book and they had the booth next to ours.
The artists conception at the left, borrowed from Spaceport America's website (which you can link to by clicking on the title of this post), is of the main building, the Virgin Galactic terminal. Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson of Virgin Records, has already performed the preliminary tests on an aircraft that will launch a rocket from high altitude to carry paying passengers on brief suborbital flights. The advances made in technology in order to create these flights are expected to be valuable beyond mere tourism.

Even better, the Spaceport is focusing on research and education, hosting contests related to rocketry and exciting the imaginations of students everywhere who might otherwise overlook math or science as careers. The Spaceport representatives we met at the festival had a steady supply of fascinated children at their booth.

With the FAA license received and a twenty-year lease in place with the State of New Mexico, it looks like the project is underway, with ground-breaking to happen sometime this year. Looking forward to watching it develop.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is This A Good Idea?

RAF Pilots Ordered to Shoot Down UFOs
Does anyone else think shooting at UFOs might be a bad idea?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

MUFON

I've been browsing the web today - which is entirely too addictive - and dropped by one of my favorite sites, the Mutual UFO Network, a fine group of people dedicated to the collecting, investigating and sharing of information on all things UFO. My significant other - have I mentioned she's also a ufologist? - has a great deal of respect for this non-profit organization, which will celebrate its 40th birthday this year. Like so many fine groups, it depends upon dedicated volunteers, of which it is lucky to have a respectable number.

One of the most fascinating items on their website (click on the title of this post to go there) is the live UFO map showing the latest reported events. I was checking on a sighting of a triangular-shaped aircraft spotted near Missouri City, Texas, early this morning. My main home is just north of Houston, and of course keeping track of other alien activity is now part of my job. When you get a chance, take a look.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Do You Believe?


I was just watching a television show on UFOs with my significant other, mostly because she's fond of them and I'm fond of her. But one of the commentaries drove me off of the sofa and in here to the keyboard, because there is something about you humans I really don't understand. In nearly every program there are "experts" whose mission is to convince those who want to believe Earth is being visited by aliens that they are really suffering from some other, more "logical" physical or psychological malady -- like sleep paralysis, mass hysteria, or even a modern religious crisis that has believers turning from the traditional deities to ET.


I'm flattered by the latter, of course, but I think these scholars are missing the point. Why isn't someone asking why a human wouldn't want to believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life? Is it simply fear of the unknown? Just a few hundred years ago, explorers took to the sea in boats which now look incredibly fragile and they did it even though they suspected they risked being eaten by sea monsters or falling off the edge of the Earth. Today, more people know more about this planet, and each other, than ever before, and seem more risk-adverse than ever. Has humanity as a whole lost its willingness to go where there might be monsters? Or am I the one who's missing the point?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Contact with Hannah Morgan


Just stopping by to let you know I'm blogging somewhere else today, at http://mizging.blogspot.com/2009/01/heres-hannah-gideon-from-undercover.html. I've yet to introduce the love of my life, Hannah Morgan, and this will give you just a taste of what I what I have to put up with....er, what I enjoy about her. There will be more, much more, later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If The Table Moves, Move With It.


It occurred to me today that my first two blogs were of a serious nature, giving a somewhat skewed picture of my true personality. So I've decided to move one step from the "sublime to the ridiculous", as Napoleon Bonaparte once said. And no, I have not been alive long enough to have known him, though he would have been interesting to meet. But it is in the spirit of his quote that I introduce today's subject: fortune cookies.

And you thought I was going to discuss something French, didn't you?

It is one of the more odd coincidences in my life that I am forever receiving cellophane-wrapped treats which are remarkably relevant. Now, one would think an extraterrestrial of exceptional abilities wouldn't care about the philosophy presented on a scrap of paper hidden in a cookie, but we aliens are as in need of good advice as anyone else.

This particular cookie was obtained in a Vietnamese restaurant which has a wonderfully savory whole fish steamed
with lemongrass and cilantro. For those who don't yet know me, eating is one of my most cherished activities when I take on human form, at least number two or three on the list. And I admit to being fond of these brittle, vanilla-scented sweets as well, even though I know they're likely full of preservatives and have been mass-produced for a largely American audience (you didn't think they were Chinese, did you?), and the fortunes are likely written by moonlighting greeting-card writers rather than acolytes of Confucius. I still like the cookies. And this one was remarkable:

If the table moves, move with it.

My companion, who was inhaling a rather unimaginative (on her part, it was cooked well enough) sweet and sour chicken at the time, thought it meant that one should not allow the furniture to be pulled away from one until the meal is finished. She is a literal sort and inclined to believe what she sees. You can imagine what it is like to be an alien pretending to be a human around her.

I chose to read somewhat more into it. What is a table, but the place before us upon which is placed the feast? Or to be a little less pedantic, the table is life, and life moves. When it does not unfold as we expect, we're sometimes at a loss as to what to do about it. We spend an inordinate amount of time (I am no less guilty of this than anyone else) trying to get life back on track to where we thought it should be. When, in fact, it would be much easier to simply move with it.

You see? No thick tomes of esoteric Earth philosophy for this visitor - you caught my attention with the seven words that would fit on this sliver of paper. I have promised to heed the table in front of me, and if the furniture takes off in an unforeseen direction, I won't try to nail it to the floor - I'll just pick up my chair and follow.

As a side note, I have since discovered that the quote is actually well-known, although I've yet to find much on its author, a Mr. (Ms?) Sakaue. But knowing my baker-philosopher did not invent the saying does not negate my wonder at having received it, because it is only a part of the package. The other side of the fortune contains the usual lesson in Chinese, which I can't reproduce completely for you here as my typewriter does not have the necessary characters. I can only provide the phonetic pronunciation and its English translation:

Chean ju yee. Please pay attention.

Now what could
be better than that?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Day They Thought Would Never Come

It's Presidential Inauguration day in the United States. "I never thought this day would come while I was still alive", is the statement I most hear from the humans around me, as they watch Barack Obama take the oath of office to become the 44th President.

When I was born, slavery had yet to be abolished in this country. It has taken a civil war, civil strife, the sacrifice of eloquent leaders and the eloquent contributions of those ordinary people who took a stand and suffered the consequences, to arrive at this day. It has taken more than a century and a half to make the journey from one brave President's proclamation that the United States could no longer operate under the shadow of slavery, to this moment when another brave President could lay his hand on that same bible and become the first black man to ascend to the highest office of this country.

For a century and a half, I have watched humans as they learn what they can tolerate, and what they cannot. Today I watched as the people of this country allowed themselves to imagine a new way of looking at the world, one based on hope, personal responsibility and connection with their fellow humans. A world where race, gender, and religion are no longer issues which divide, but simply some of the characteristics which make each human unique.

It's been a very good day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome

The night side of Earth's northern hemisphere filled the sky below me; it was a huge, dark disc, the only reassurance that the sun still existed the barest nimbus of light along the far edge. On the planet itself, pinpricks of man-made brilliance followed continental coasts and major inland waterways, scattering more thinly across the interiors of all but the least-developed areas. They merged into glowing puddles at urban centers, as if a child had carefully applied dots of florescent ink to illustrate a geography lesson, only to discover, when she reached the eastern seaboard of the United States, her pen had sprung a leak.

This was my first view of Earth. I'm Gideon Cyrus, an Olam. Members of my species have been living secretly on
Earth for a long, long time. We love this planet, sometimes even more than you, the human inhabitants of Earth, seem to. I've only been around for a bit over 150 of your years, but I'd still give everything I have to make sure that Earth, however fragile it is, is still around many millennia from now, and still populated with a wide variety of fascinating, frustrating, creative and stubbornly independent humanity. Plus a few friendly extraterrestrials.

But living incognito can be tiring, when the only entities who know one's true identity are not always around. The rest of the time I must be human - at least on the outside - because many on Earth are not ready for my kind to reveal ourselves. Or any extraterrestrial kind, for that matter.

Still, eventually we will need to come out of the saucer, so to speak, and it has occurred to me that I might tiptoe out on occasion, just to test the waters. To be myself, to let others know how I see the world and perhaps find out how the world might see me. This blog, hidden as it certainly is among so many others, is sure to be found by only the most imaginative, the most curious of readers.

Welcome. I'm looking forward to our conversation.