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An Introduction to LoveBot

The following is a short story introduction to LoveBot. [Read how he was created here.]

You can change his battery. You can change his motherboard. But you can’t change his heart.

LoveBot powers up in a dark hallway. The red heart on his chest slowly lights up from the bottom to the top. When the heart is full, his eyes turn on like the powering on of an old television. Once he is on, his eyes grow dim like he is tired. He lowers one of his arms and removes a plug from an outlet near the ground and it recedes into the back of LoveBot’s left foot.

LoveBot looks around and sees rows of other robots up and down the hallway, all plugged into the wall. He moves forward slowly and walks down the long hall to a doorway. He opens the door and sunlight overtakes him. LoveBot steps outside.

LoveBot walks down a street of large, dark, windowless buildings. They all have signs flashing saying “₡30 a Month” and “Outlets starting at ₡25.” He hears something coming from near one of the signs and walks over to it. Behind the sign is a birds nest and some baby birds are tweeting. He watches them sweetly and his heart starts to glow. Suddenly a mother bird swoops in and it throws LoveBot off balance. He falls onto the ground. The bird flies to the nest with worms in its mouth and gives a glare at LoveBot. He gets up and continues on.

LoveBot comes upon a stairwell leading into the ground and walks down. He joins a large group of other robots waiting for a train. When the train pulls up, it’s just a grated floor with bars for frames. LoveBot walks onto the grated floor and grabs one of the bars. The train moves forward. LoveBot can see the lights from the eyes of other robots illuminating the dark subway tunnel.

When LoveBot reaches his destination, he walks up a tunnel and onto a urban/suburban area. He walks down a sidewalk designated for robots. He can look to the other side of the street and see humans using a different sidewalk. LoveBot walks past a fenced playground where children are playing. He stops to watch them. The heart in his chest starts to glow bright. Another robot on the sidewalk bumps into him and it breaks his concentration. He looks to see who did it, but the sidewalk is too busy. Right as he’s about to turn back, he is hit in the head with a rock. He turns and sees the kids on the playground standing in a group with folded arms, staring at him. He turns and continues walking.

LoveBot arrives at a large black building with a smokestack pushing out steam. He goes in and walks over to a time clock. He opens the door to his body, pulls out a car, and punches it in the time clock. He puts the card back and walks over to an assembly line. A furry, empty pouch appears in front of him on the assembly line. He presses a button and stuffing comes out from above the pouch and fills up what is now clearly a body of a teddy bear (minus the head). He presses another button and the next body appears. He hits the first button and it gets filled. He hits the next button and is goes down the line. Zooming out, you can see the entire factory of robots hitting buttons along a twisty assembly line. At the end, teddy bears end up being piled into a cardboard box. The box is then moved to a spot where it is closed and taped. The box is then put on a truck that drives to a toy store. The box comes off the truck, a person unpacks the box, and they put the teddy bears on a shelf. A mom and daughter walk up to the shelf and the girl pulls the teddy bear off the shelf and gives it a big hug.

LoveBot clocks out of work and begins walking home as the sun is setting. He’s hit in the body with a rock when he’s passing the playground. A small group of kids is picking up more rocks and throwing them, so he has to run a bit to avoid them. When he can finally begin walking again, he looks at a human family walking down the opposite sidewalk. The little girl in the family is holding a teddy bear in one of her arms. They looks so happy to be with each other. LoveBot gets on the subway train and takes it home. When he is walking down the road of apartment buildings, he looks behind the sign to see how the baby birds are doing. The nest is no longer there.

As LoveBot is coming up on his building, a glimmer of light hits his eyes. He turns and looks down a narrow alley between two buildings. Something is shining a light at him from down the alley. He turns sideways and walks slowly so he can fit in the alley. He isn’t as careful as he had hoped, and he scratches a few of the LEDs that make up the heart on his chest. Finally, he comes upon a small teddy bear with one eye—the eye that was catching some light and attracted him into the alley. He reaches into his body and pulls out a needle, some thread, and a machine nut. He sews the machine nut where the other eye of the teddy bear should be. He holds it up to inspect his work. The heart on his chest glows a little brighter. He pulls the teddy bear close to his body and the heart of his chest is so bright that it floods the alley with red light.

LoveBot leaves the alley, but he doesn’t seem to be carrying the teddy bear. He walks into his building and down the hallway that leads to his outlet. He lowers his arm to plug himself into the wall. The light of his eyes dims and turns off, but the red glow from his heart is still bright and it pulses with light. Looking through the door to the robots body, you can see the teddy bear is inside.

So, that’s LoveBot’s first story.

His physical design is still in version 0.3. I’m working on bringing him up to 0.5 by the time I’m able to find an illustrator willing to take on LoveBot’s story.

The Creative Process Behind LoveBot

This is the story of how I went from doing normal things in a normal part of my day to creating a character, a story, and a new writing project.

Last Friday, I was alphabetizing a list for work, and I decided to write it out by hand instead of typing it. While I was putting pen to paper, a quote from an episode of The Office came to mind from a scene where Michael pretends to be a robot. Watch the clip below.

Then I imagined a robot in a field of other robots with a giant, red heart on his chest. And, before I knew it, I drew him—LoveBot 0.1. (more…)

The Sun Also Rises

For those that don’t remember reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in high school literature class, the novel is about a veteran of World War I (Jake) traveling to Spain with his friends to watch the bullfighting that takes place every year. His travel companions include the woman he loves (Brett), a friend he is in silent competition with (Cohn), and a few others. At the end of the novel, the entire group splits up after a fight between Jake and Cohn over Brett.

But the final title of the book was not the first title that Hemingway considered. (more…)

My 2014 Reading Experiment: Cataloging My Online Reading

I imagine that if I lived fifty years ago, I’d be the sort of person who would read the newspaper every morning  before work. But in today’s world, I get most of my news from online articles—some that can be found in newspapers and some that cannot.

My issue has been recalling where I read a specific article or details about a topic. I can google the article, but I only remember certain details, not where the article was published or what the title was.

So, starting January 1, I decided I would catalog every online article I read. (more…)

One Pixel Perfect

One Pixel Perfect

In my line of work, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year with some of the largest and most important projects coming due all at once. This was my fourth Christmas, and it’s safe to say that it doesn’t get easier over time.

But looking back to the first Christmas working for the church, I’ve learned a lot. It was at that first Christmas that I understood the importance of excellence within the organization.

I was sitting in my cubicle working on the position of an image on the Christmas website we were making, and the head of my department, Ted, stopped by to ask me a question about something. But he paused mid-question as he stepped closer to my computer screen.

“Can you add five pixels of padding on the top and eight on the left?” Ted asked. (more…)

A Cover for My NaNoWriMo Novel

This is going to be brief, but allow me to set the scene…

The world is in chaos and those with power are making absolute decisions. Dissent and revolution are in the air.

You’re approaching the Post Office and notice the brick building has been whitewashed. Some vandals have spray painted the silhouette of a crowd with one person raising their fist in the air. Above the crowd, in all caps, it reads, “JOIN THE MARCH.”

And now, my cover.


November: Writing and Prompts

National Novel Writing Month ParticipantNovember is almost here, and I’ve already told almost everyone I know about my participation in NaNoWriMo. I’ve also shared how important it is for me that I meet the 50,000 word goal, because I will be taking care of a six-month-old next year and may not have the time to participate.

Just like last year, I plan on blogging as I write my novel. I’ve found that to be a huge help with developing my characters and scenes.

So if you’re sick of reading about NaNoWriMo, I’ll see you in December.


RightPromptOn a slightly different—but slightly similar—topic, I’ve been running a writing prompt blog on the side for the last year or so. It started as an attempt to see what all I could automate with IFTTT, so I set up a WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr accounts to update with content from an RSS of a writing prompt subreddit. It worked fairly well, and I was putting no effort in.

The next phase has been cutting off the RSS feed and writing the content on my own. With that increased control over what the content is and when it goes out, I’ve seen followership increase a little. I’m going to run special NaNoWriMo prompts over the month of November, and hopefully that will help.

Here are the links to the different outlets for the writing prompts:

NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning

NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning

It’s October, and that means that it’s time to plan for National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo). The good news is that I’ve got my idea nailed down. The bad news…well, so far, there isn’t bad news.

This year’s novel is going to be familiar, because it’s going to be based off of last year’s novel. As in it’s going to be the exact same novel, except I’m planning on winning with it this year instead of only reaching 8,000 words.

To keep me motivated to write throughout November, I’m going to make a timeline with detailed notes for plot points. I’ve done this before and it’s been very helpful. I’ll be sure to share photos when I’ve got everything laid out.

Here’s the basic rundown of the novel:

Title: Day of Calamity
Genre: Mainstream fiction
One-line: It’s like Occupy Wall Street meets The Walking Dead (minus zombies) meets The Book of Eli.
Short description: The apocalypse has started. The world is ending. But would you know it if you lived it? Tate McLeod and his friends survived the natural disasters, but they soon find themselves in the middle of a war over Chicago. Will they join the side that wishes to maintain the old ways, or will they choose to start society with new rules?

Wanting More from Technology, Myself, and Others

Game BoyI had a dream a few nights ago that I was trying to give an old Game Boy new parts that would allow it to be its own NES emulator and more. I kept trying to get more and more out of the technology.

That is something I do on a daily basis because I recognize the power of the hardware and software I use, and I want to stretch them to take full advantage of their capabilities.

Then something hit me: Am I stretching myself to the extent of what I can achieve?

The answer to that is a little difficult. Yes, I’m in a place right now where I’m creating writing content five nights a week. I’m not really challenging myself to learn technical stuff (like jQuery and JavaScirpt). And I’m not running as much as I want to right now. But I guess I’m okay with the last two not being stretched as long as I’m writing.

A little later, something else hit me: Am I stretching my friends and coworkers to the extent of what they can achieve?

I don’t mean that to seem like I want to use my friends to benefit myself. I mean that, as a good friend and coworker, I need to be helping others realize the potential in themselves, or I need to be helping them with stuff they’re working on.

This was a huge gut-check moment, because the answer is an embarrassing “no.” I can take an easy cop-out and say I’m just not wired that way. But I’m man enough to take this one on the chin. I’m not doing much to help or encourage my friends—and there’s no amount of writing I can do for myself that will make me feel better about this answer.

So I’m going to try to ease into turning my “no” into a “yes” by asking close friends and coworkers How can I help you? and taking things forward from their.