This Blog is Dying, Too

Yup, two of my six blogs are being put into WordPress cryogenic storage, and this is one of them. It’s bittersweet, for sure. I put this creation together to celebrate my fifth book, Flickers of Fortune, which I first published in January of 2015. I already had four blogs I was struggling with, so it’s not so surprising this one never got the attention I intended to give it.

And it had a lot of promise, too. I wanted to write about the future. Speculating about it. Trying to predict it. Does anyone ever really get a glimpse of it? And what are the time travel (and free will) implications of a future that can be known?

So many ideas, and such little time. Sigh…

But, as I posted on my other dying blog in This Blog is Dying, I’ve discovered I like blogging, but I like writing novels more. And time spent doing the one is time not spent doing the other.

I’m well into a new series of books these days. I’m enjoying dealing with this pandemic by spending hours each day lost in another universe. It’s true, there has never been a better time to write fantasy fiction!

Over the next year or so, I plan to have SEVEN more books out there on the market. I’m excited, but some things have got to go. This blog is one of them.

So, what will happen to it? As of January 2021 I will no longer be paying the extra $48/year to WordPress to keep this blog ad free and to have more visual options. Therefore, it will look different. I’m not sure how, but I know ads will be part of it.

I will start using the free URL that comes with this blog. It’s https://dtothepowerof4.wordpress.com/. Until 2021, anyone who searches for an older post using https://dtothepowerof4.org will be (seamlessly, I think) redirected here.

Starting In January, the best I can figure out is anyone who looks for an old post will get some version of 404 Page Not Found. I’ll feel bad about that, but not bad enough to keep paying $18/year for the rest of my life.

So what will happen to the actual content I’ve posted over the last five years? Well nothing, really. I have options to make it disappear completely, but I see no need to do so. I still like what I created here.

Better yet, I’m pretty sure this blog will be back. Why?

I’ve already taken the blog for one of my other earlier novels and begun to repurpose it to showcase the new series I am working on. Previous posts will be surprisingly relevant and it gives me an already established platform to continue to write about themes that interest me.  How lucky.

But I’m already thinking about what I’ll write when this new series is done. (That’s just the way I am.) I’m fixating on a near-future detective series that would blend well with the previous posts on this blog.

Lucky me, again.

If I want, Word Press will let me resurrect this blog at any time (as far as I know). I hope “Touching the Sky to Save the World” will be back in the not-too-distant future, serving as a bridge between my original thoughts on predicting the future, and those I’ve yet to have.

 

 

Free Through Tuesday

Enjoy Flickers of Fortune free on Kindle through Tuesday night, April 7.

GET MY COPY NOW

Here’s what reviewers are saying:

“S. R. Cronin is a mistress of story telling. Yet again she’s pulled me into an exceptional world that has swirled a magical web around me. With beautiful imagery, some suspense and details that transport you to new places Flickers of Fortune is captivating.” — Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!

“Yet again, I found myself enthralled in a book of this excellent series… Ariel was a fantastic heroine… As always, the plot was complex and intriguing. Combined with more truly interesting characters and another look into problems plaguing the world … I will say it again: I can’t recommend this series enough.” — Kit ‘N Kabookle

“Flickers of Fortune is a fast paced read … all the twists and turns kept the pages turning to see what the future held. I liked getting to see the points of view from more than one character [and] trying to figure out how they all connect in the end. I highly recommend Flickers of Fortune to all fans of science fiction.” — The Avid Reader

“An action novel for intellectuals! It has a steady and gripping plot which incorporates a fully thought out phenomenon of seeing into the future, as well as addressing the philosophical question of what to do with that knowledge… So clearly – 5 stars for another brilliant novel in the “46.Ascending series.” — Paul Wandason, Time2timetravel.com

What is this book about?

It’s about clinging to the edge of your seat in this high-finance, high-stakes adventure.

What do we do with knowledge of the future? Clairvoyant Ariel has been doing her best to ignore it, finding the whole thing a nuisance. But when she comes across people using similar abilities to get extremely rich, her interest is piqued.

Then she discovers a second collection of gifted people. They care about ensuring the survival of the human race, but that doesn’t stop them from being dangerous and crazy, too. Soon Ariel becomes the object in a game of tug of war between the two groups, as they fight to have her–and her particular talents–on their side.

She can’t possibly help them both. Aligning with either could be a terrible idea. But how can she stay out of it when so much is at stake?

But I haven’t read the first books in this series.

Fear not. Flickers of Fortune is part of the 46. Ascending collection of six interrelated yet stand-alone novels celebrating the superhero in us all. These stories can be read in any order as they overlap in time and compliment each other.

Can I try an excerpt?

Of course you can.

The work portion of the trip would all be at the end, so Ariel tried to enjoy the beginning of her vacation. She packed a few good books and her warmest clothes, and delighted in a window seat as she watched the late afternoon sun set on her way into Iceland. The giant Vatnajökull glacier gleamed beneath her when the plane dipped below the clouds and Ariel thought she’d never seen anything so beautiful as the various shades of blues glistening off of the ice in the light of low winter sun.

She joined her group at the Reykjavik airport for the evening flight on to Nuuk. The small band of mostly Icelandic travelers was quiet, but friendly, and she felt thankful to live in a time and place where a woman could travel alone without problems. Nuuk was a quick stopover, and the next morning they boarded the pint-sized plane for Ilulissat, the main tourist destination in Greenland.

Ariel stepped off the plane to her first view of the barren rocks mottled with bright colored lichens that make up the tundra. She’d never set foot inside of the Arctic Circle before. Tiny flickers and flashes erupted as her boot touched the ground.

My premonitions are stronger here. The cold dry air? The earth’s magnetic field? There had to be a reason.

While they were waiting for the luggage, Ariel wandered off, looking for a bathroom. She turned into an office and noticed a man’s legs sticking out from under a desk.

“Are you okay?” She felt like she should say something.

She heard him chuckle. “No, I’m in serious need of somebody to grab the other end of this wire. One man doing a two man job.” Ariel saw that he was trying to get a computer cable to go through a small hole in top of the desk.

“Let me help.” She came over, pulled the cord through and plugged it into the monitor where it was clearly intended to go.

“Thanks,” he said as he wriggled out from under the desk. He noticed she’d connected the cable. “A helpful tourist and one that knows how to connect hardware.”

“I can manage more than plugging in a monitor.” She laughed. “IT training here, though I don’t use it enough these days. I’m Ariel and I’m looking for a ladies’ room.”

“You came all the way to the arctic to find a place to pee?”

She rolled her eyes and when he held out his hand she took it without thinking.

“Siarnaq,” he said and Ariel saw a small spark in the air before their hands touched.

Then for a few seconds, neither of them could have said a word if they had wanted to.

Ariel saw the flickers of the distant future going wild in the corners of her brain, like far off flashing lights. He let go of her hand.

“You’re a seer.” He said it like it was fact. He studied her red hair, fair skin and blue eyes. She wasn’t of the People, or at least if she had Inuit ancestors they were few indeed. Had he ever met a seer who wasn’t mostly Inuit? He didn’t think so.

“You get visions of the future, too?” Ariel’s heart was beating harder. She’d never expected to be asking this question.

The Inuit man laughed. “The world is full of seers.”

I had no idea that would be so good to know.

“You have a lot to learn about your gift. You’re with the tour group?” She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. “Today, they give you time to shop and sightsee. Let’s go get a cup of coffee.”

Learning To Bend

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Michelle Davis and her Women’s Fiction novel, Learning To Bend.

Author’s description:

Jenna Moore’s flawlessly orchestrated life and engagement to Ben Kelly, “the perfect man,” vanish when she discovers a controlling side of her fiancé. Confused and unsure of who she is without Ben, Jenna decides to uproot from her safe, predictable life in Boston and move to Bend, Oregon, hoping to find her answers there. It’s when she meets Jackson, a former Navy SEAL who battles demons of his own, that Jenna finds the courage to let go of being perfect and embrace uncomfortable risks, transforming her life through forgiveness, compassion, surrender and acceptance. Yet the rewards from discovering her true self exceed Jenna’s expectations – not only does she find the greatest love of her life, but she also understands what’s kept her from learning to bend.

About the Author:

Michelle Davis, whose career path includes banking, teaching, and college admissions consulting, holds a B.S. in Finance from Lehigh University and a M.S. in Education from St. Joseph’s University. Through her blog, elevate, Michelle’s goal is to inspire others to shift their perspectives and welcome change as they realize their life purpose.

A Pennsylvania native, Michelle and her husband enjoy visiting their sons in Boston and spending time in Bend, Oregon, the settings of her debut novel, Learning to Bend. To learn more about Michelle and how to elevate your life, visit www.michellemdavis.net.

Find Michelle Davis on Facebook or Instagram or visit her at the book’s website, or on her Amazon author page.  

Buy Learning to Bend on Amazon.

Buy Learning to Bend at Barnes and Nobel.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Michelle Davis will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour..

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt:

Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four… one more, I think to myself, straining to finish the final pull-up. Twenty-five. Done. I then grab a thirty-five-pound kettlebell and begin the first of three sets of twenty swings. The clock on my nightstand says 4:41. I spend the next half-hour hammering my muscles with weights, knowing that is not the end of my morning workout – I still have a run. Welcome to my world. This is my daily practice, my religion. It’s the only stable aspect of my life. But I need it, crave it actually. It’s what helps me counter the nightmares and the pain.

It’s been over a year now. My thirty-four-year old body hasn’t physically changed since I left the SEALS. At six feet two, discipline and hard work have kept me at a steady weight of 197 pounds. In fact, my only variance from years of following the SEAL’s strict codes is that I grew out my hair. Now, it’s almost at my shoulders. I think letting it grow was symbolic at first, representing a departure from my former life as a Navy Commander. Yeah, those were the best years of my life. I loved what I did, and my guys were freakin’ awesome, totally dependable and loyal as dogs. But afterward, it was impossible to stay. I couldn’t trust myself.

Bulb

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Bradley Wind and his speculative fiction novel Bulb.

Author’s description of the book:

If light records everything we do, can even shadows hide our secrets?

 

Imagine your entire life is available for review.

 

Imagine each day any event can be watched over and over again – your birth, your first kiss, your recent shower, that private itch – all replayable from any angle. Now imagine these can be viewed by anyone at any time.

 

Is a world where there is far less ego, little crime, and even the smallest moments are recorded and available publicly through the ‘Grand Archive’ a Utopia or a Dystopia? Traumatized by memories he does not want to recall, artist Ben Tinthawin is recruited by the enigmatic, Grand Archive creator Dr. Mamon, who seeks help for his nextgen designs to enhance the world. Ben stumbles across a secret revealing the doctor’s true scheme in all its surreal splendor and questions whether the doctor really is the benevolent soul he claims to be. As the paths of a broken man and a brilliant revolutionary cross, the world shifts and cracks start to appear. Even our most fundamental codes can be encrypted – or corrupted. If the wrong information is discovered, more than Ben’s life will be in danger of total shut down.

 

Prepare yourself for full exposure.

My Review:

In Bulb, Bradley Wind has created an unusual and thought-provoking look into the future. It poses plenty of relevant questions about today and about the choices we’re making.

What I liked best:

1. This is a genuine attempt to describe the future, not a story set in our own world with more rocket ships and robots in the background. The author makes the valid point that if you asked a human from ten thousand years ago to describe the year 2020 they wouldn’t have enough information to even imagine our society. Bradley Wind has tried to make this leap into an unimaginable future, and he has succeeded in creating a disturbing and unexpected world that seems normal and even inevitable to those living in it.

2. His writing packs a punch.

3. This could have been a one-good-idea book. The concept of the archives is so different, and so chilling, that it would carry a fine story. However, Wind is just getting started when he lays out the concept of everyone being able to view everything everyone else has ever done.

What I liked least:

1. The pacing is erratic. I do think the way the book is written has an overall artistic effect, but one has to get through it to appreciate the artistry, and this is not an easy book to finish.

2. Item three above is somewhat of a two-edged sword. This story throws so many radical ideas at the reader that overload is likely. Yes, you can have too much dessert, and too many things to think about in too short a time. I’d recommend reading this novel over a period of several days, if not more.

3. This last part is subjective and I always wonder whether personal preferences should be included. Yet, no matter how well done something is or isn’t, we all have own tastes and they effect our reading experience. So, I’ll be blunt. I didn’t enjoy reading this book.

I’m easily bothered by blood and gore, disturbing rape scenes, disgusting behavior, detailed descriptions of bodily functions, deformities, mutilations and you get the idea. I’m not a good date at a zombie movie and I don’t watch horror flicks. But … Bradley Wind can’t seem to stay off of these topics. His descriptions of the lives of two saints (people who voluntarily stay in a coma to keep the system running) were so over the top they nearly stopped me from finishing the story.

It’s important to note that I’ve read other novels I didn’t enjoy, and yet which I’m glad I read. (Did anyone actually enjoy reading 1984?) The truth is, we don’t only read for fun. We read to understand new points of view. We read to have our imaginations expanded and our empathy increased. We read to think more and to feel more and to grow.

So, I recommend this book to (1) people who enjoy dark and disturbing speculative fiction, and (2) to those willing to read such in order to be exposed to ideas they’re unlikely to encounter anywhere else. Trust me, this book is full of them.

About the Author:

Bradley Wind was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He is a prolific visual artist whose work has exhibited in the 20th-century wing of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He worked as a toy designer for K’nex Industries, a manager of IT for Pearl S. Buck International and is currently a director of IT for a child-focused non-profit. He raises chickens and two lovely girls with his wife in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

BULB is his latest novel.

Find him on his website, on Facebook, Instagram, BookBub, Goodreads, or on Twitter. 

Buy Bulb on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Bradley Wind will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops.

 

Introvert? Empath? Good Literary Citizen? (3 of 3)

Because I’m an introvert who sucks at social obligations (see the two posts mentioned below) I’m looking into ways I, too, can be a good literary citizen. I’ve identified three problems, three solutions and three dangerous traps I have to avoid.

This is about the third of these three.

A Problem:

Like most (maybe all?) people driven to write novels, I grew up reading dozens of novels a year for fun. College classes slowed me down a little, but not much. Likewise, marriage, children and a full-time job only put a dent in my addiction of choice.

It took writing books myself to bring my favorite pass time to a complete halt. And I’m still sad about it. Turns out I can do almost anything and read all I want, except write.

I’ve already written about how I use (and enjoy) flash fiction to stay current in my genre. And I’ve written about how I follow a limited number of blogs and online groups, trying to be supportive of them while refraining from comments.  I make an effort to stay away from others all together.

Today, I’m considering the rare times I do read a novel these days, and why.

A Solution:

Most of my reading today is done for blog tours, providing reviews for others like me, trying to gain attention for their self-published or small indie press published works. I’m sympathetic to their aims and I try to be positive in my reviews, while still being honest. Often the books aren’t chosen because I’d choose them off a shelf, but rather because they are available for review.

I’ve discovered there are genres I need to avoid.  I already knew I lacked the gene to appreciate true horror novels, or anything grisly or gross. Now I know not to sign up for anything with the word romance in the description. (I’ve nothing against romance in real life, I just prefer my plots to be less predictable.) Recently I’ve learned to be careful choosing YA novels too. I’ve enjoyed some, but they need to be pretty special before I get emotionally involved in teenage troubles.

“Then what do you read?” you may ask. Good question, as I’ve just eliminated a lot of  what’s written. I do like crime novels, science fictions, and most fantasy. (It can get too dark and grim for me out on the edges.) If I stick to this, I find I generally enjoy any reasonably well-constructed story and can say something good about it. That’s nice for me. It means I got to read a book. And it’s nice for the author. They got one more positive review.

The Problem with the Solution:

To be honest, reading to write reviews doesn’t feed my addition. It doesn’t fill some longing deep in my brain. Why?

I read these book the way I used to read assignments in school. I skim and I skip and I barely touch down, just enough to render a fair review, the way I used to do when I had to produce an adequate paper.  Yes, I often enjoy the story, but not the same way I enjoy a leisurely immersion in another world.

And, the truth is, these are often authors still early in their own learning curves. Even though they’ve accomplished the remarkable feat of producing a full-length, coherent novel, they often have habits I want to avoid, not emulate.

To write better, I decided I needed to read better as well.

Recently I’ve started allowing myself to take short vacations from writing, to read a carefully selected novel. I’m turning to award winners, to those books highly recommend by friends and to stories whose descriptions call to me for one reason or another.

I have two rules as I read these books. Well, actually three. The first is to take my time and enjoy the book. The second is to keep my eye out for ways I can grow as a writer. (No, the two tasks don’t seem to be mutually exclusive.) The third is to write a review of these books as well. Even acclaimed authors can use a little a more praise.

Next up for me? Recursion by Blake Crouch and The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow.

I know I’m not the greatest literary citizen with these few techniques, and I never will be, but I am managing to produce my own fiction while no longer groaning every time someone mentions being “a good literary citizen.” I’m willing to call it achieving a balance.

 

The Tears We Never Cried

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ryshia Kennie and her novel The Tears We Never Cried.

Author’s description of the book:

A mother’s tragic diagnosis.
A daughter’s life on hold.
An ending and a new beginning …

Cassandra McDowall’s mother has been forgetful for a while, but she never anticipated rapid-onset Alzheimer’s to come out of nowhere and shake their world to its very core.

As Cassie puts her already-lackluster life on hold, her mom’s indomitable will and spirit of adventure prove to be a handful.

And as her mother fades, the two embark on one last adventure—a journey that reveals secrets on the brink of being lost, the joy of foreign sunsets, and love where she hadn’t thought it possible.

About the Author:

The winner of  her city’s writing award, Ryshia Kennie’s novels have taken her characters from the depression era prairies in her first book “From the Dust” to a across the globe and back again. There’s never a lack of places to set a story as the too long prairie winters occasionally find her with travel journal in hand seeking adventure on foreign shores.  While facing off a Monitor Lizard before breakfast or running through the Kasbah chased by an enraged Water Carrier aren’t normal travel experiences and might never find a place in one of her stories, they do make great travel stories.  When not collecting odd memories from around the world, she’s writing mainly romantic suspense and women’s fiction.

Find Ryshia at her website, or on Facebook, on Instagram, or on Twitter.

Purchase her book on Amazon at The Tears We Never Cried

Yes there is a giveaway.

Ryshia Kennie will award a randomly drawn winner a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“The car is stolen!”

Mother’s voice sliced through the swirls of sleep.

I leapt out of bed, glanced at the clock and tripped over the unfamiliar flannel sheet. On the wall was a poster of a rock band I’d loved at fifteen. I was back in the room of my childhood.

I’d brought Mother home to live with me for that first night after the Christmas card debacle. One night was about all either of us could tolerate. My apartment was too small. It had taken me only a few days to get my stuff together, notify my landlord and move in with Mother.

“Hang on, Mom.” I fought to catch my breath as I reached for my housecoat.

“Cassie!” Her voice cracked across the layer of frost that collected on the window frame overnight and slammed through the partially open window. I have a penchant for fresh air. Sleeping with a window open even in the midst of winter is normal for me, and made it easy to hear Mother’s shriek outside as it erupted a second time loud enough to roust the neighbors. Her screech had me excited but not panicked. Not until my conscious and my unconscious married those two thoughts together—outside and Mother.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A Personal Note from Me:

I signed up for this tour because I grew up in household affected by Alzheimer’s disease in one of my grandparents. I remember how the pain is most difficult for the one or two people who are closest to the person.

This is a blog about being able to see the future. I think if my own mother could have seen a decade ahead, after the disease had long since taken my grandfather and her life had moved on, it would have helped her. But, of course, we can’t see ahead.

I now have the hindsight of decades, and much more medical knowledge, but I always applaud a book that attempts to handle this difficult topic with sensitivity and understanding.

 

The Jack Steel Series

Today it my pleasure to welcome author Geoffrey Saign and his books Steel Force and Steel Assassin.

Author’s description of the books:

Serve justice. Discover a secret. Find his daughter. Repay betrayal.
Jack Steel trains for the impossible, and it looks like it found him.

On a black op to neutralize terrorists, elite specialist Steel puts honor and integrity ahead of orders when he spares a monk. He just never expected his decision to put crosshairs on his back.

Hunted by a twisted killer, a vengeful billionaire, and the highest levels of government, Steel races to discover who’s behind a conspiracy that will decide the fate of two countries—and why one monk is the key to it all.

Aching from a missing daughter, Steel finds it easy to fall for Christie, a beautiful counter-terrorism analyst who offers to help. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone.

To have a chance at love and a new life, and to serve justice, Steel just needs to stay one step ahead of a bullet…

*****

 

Revenge. Love. Family.
To protect their families, Jack Steel and Christie Thorton must become assassins.

Deadly Blackhood Ops specialist Jack Steel has moved on from his bloody past, but his past won’t let him go. He has it all; his partner Christie, his daughter Rachel, a protection agency he’s proud of, and his head on straight.

But it’s all torn apart when a madman blackmails him and Christy. Their skills are pushed to the limit as they are forced to become assassins to save those they love. The Mexican cartel, terrorists, and people from Steel’s past force them into a non-stop fight that they can’t walk away from.

To protect his country, and everyone important to him, Steel will be forced to trust the very people he swore to kill.

And he might have to walk away from those he loves…

About the Author:

Award-winning author Geoffrey Saign has spent many years studying kung fu and sailed all over the South Pacific and Caribbean. He uses that experience and sense of adventure to write the Jack Steel and Alex Sight thriller action series.

Geoff loves to sail big boats, hike, and cook—and he infuses all his writing with his passion for nature. As a swimmer he considers himself fortunate to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota. See what he’s up to online.
Website: http://geoffreysaign.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/geoffreysaign
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackSteelBooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/755980.Geoffrey_Saign

Sign up for the newsletter to receive a free copy of STEEL TRUST: https://geoffreysaign.net/newsletter-free-steel-trust

Amazon STEEL FORCE Buy Link. On sale during the week of the tour for $0.99

Amazon STEEL ASSASSIN Buy Link.  On sale during the week of the tour for $2.99

My Favorite Excerpt (from Book 2: Steel Assassin)

Steel heard the ooh ooh ooh cry of a Mexican spotted owl. It began softly and escalated rapidly to a louder pitch. Wishing he could just stand still and enjoy it, he kept moving. He had a deep, abiding love for nature—which always grounded him.

As he made his way south, he also wished he had taken a firmer stand with Christie and refused her help. It probably wouldn’t have mattered. She would have come anyway. But the fact that she was in a dangerous Op, with little field experience, gave his steps more urgency.

A deeper fear lurked beneath that idea. When the Colombian had threatened to send Christie’s photo to the cartel, he had intuited that it wasn’t just a threat, but a plan. The Colombian would have to die before that happened.

The trees formed dark shadows under the moon. He ran from trunk to trunk until he was far enough south that he could approach the side of the house directly from the east.

Decades of exploring caves had made moving in darkness second nature to him.

As he got closer, the house lights guided him in. He stopped fifty feet out behind a tree. No one was visible in the windows. It triggered an alarm in his head to be more cautious.

Yes there is a giveaway:
Geoffrey Saign will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 

 

 

Free through Monday!

Storms are in the air. Flickers of Fortune always makes me think of lightning.

The nice people at Amazon let me give away copies of my book once every 90 days, so what better time than now to offer it for FREE .

My hope of course, is that you will download the book, and then read the book. In fact, my hope is you will like the book so much that you actually go ahead and buy one of the other books in the collection. Hallelujah!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  For now, just DOWNLOAD THE BOOK.  Let’s see what happens after that. 🙂

(Flickers of Fortune is available for free from Nov. 7 through Nov. 11 2019.)

Computers are taking over your 401K. Should you care?

One of the challenges in writing Flickers of Fortune was to convince my readers that investing in the stock market could be dangerous, exciting and sexy. My thesis, if you will, was that much of the machinations behind the worlds wealth goes on behind the curtain of the world’s largest casino — known as the various stock exchanges. And if you don’t think handling money, lots and lots of money, is dangerous, exciting and sexy — well you’re probably not paying much attention to why things go the way they do.

The dangerous part comes from all the ways this can go wrong. I mean, we are talking about a lot of the world’s wealth being schlepped around in ways most of us don’t understand, creating results that sometimes don’t make sense even when we do know what is happening.

So …  I was fascinated to read this blurb about an article that recently appeared in the magazine The Economist.

This week our cover looks at how machines are taking control of financial markets—not just the humdrum buying and selling of securities, but also the commanding heights of monitoring the economy and allocating capital. Funds run by computers that follow rules set by humans account for 35% of America’s stock market, 60% of institutional equity assets and 60% of trading activity. New artificial-intelligence programs are also writing their own investing rules, in ways their human masters only partly understand.Industries from pizza-delivery to Hollywood are being changed by technology, but finance is unique because it can exert voting power over firms, redistribute wealth and cause mayhem in the economy.

The blue bold lettering is mine.

Interesting, huh? Maybe even a little exciting in a weird this-car-could-really-crash kind of way?

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s 8 Time Zones Away

Imagine what a US city would be like if it had been built from the ground up after 1960, and had an unprecedented amount of wealth poured into its creation?

World class public transportation, all fully automated? Wide, well designed streets? Sparkling tall buildings?

You’re describing Dubai, and Abu Dhabi as well. These two cities were small towns seventy years ago, before the money from huge oil supplies and the proliferation of air conditioning turned them from desert outback into what is arguably the most modern metropolises  on earth.

Today, there is a mall with a ski slope. It’s kept at 32°F even when it reaches 120° outside.

Both towns have a sense of opulence about them, emphasized by the curved ornateness that defines Arabic style. The sheik of each emirate has his amazing palaces, and beautiful mosques add to a westerners sense that they have somehow entered a futuristic version of the Emerald City.

If there is poverty, it’s kept well hidden. In fact, streets are remarkably clean and even the cars sparkle.  We learn that there are severe fines for littering, and even fines for not washing ones car after a warning ticket has been issued.

There are no beggars, and no homeless people to be seen. The reasons for this are complex. The most significant is that the sheiks of the UAE have done an admirable job of sharing their wealth with their own people. Most low-paid jobs are held by foreigners, frankly, and these people are highly regulated. Furthermore, the religion and culture encourage family and community assistance well beyond what is typical in the US.

There is also a certain pride that is shared, at the least, by those who come in contact with foreign tourists. “Look what we’ve done. Look what we’ve made.”

You can tell they are keeping themselves from asking “Do you have anything this beautiful back home?” They are pretty sure we don’t.

One of the landmarks that intrigued me most was a giant picture frame. We were told people could climb to the top, like the arch in St. Louis. Here, it was built to separate the much smaller town of old Dubai from the gleaming modern city. We could peer through the frame into the past, while those in the old town could look through the frame into the future.

Given the resources that have been put into these two cities, it is a gleaming future indeed.