Monday, June 3, 2019

Destination: Titan @Liza0Connor

Meet the main characters
Tamara: She’s not even considered important when she first arrives but very soon she is critical to the mission.

Destination: Titan
Liza O’Connor
With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.

“So, you’re telling me I was chosen over every other biochemist in the world because my favorite color is orange.” Tamara tugged at a strand of her short blonde hair. Her mentor was the brightest man she knew, but this didn’t make any sense at all!
Maxwell’s eyes sparkled. “I love the way your brain tunnels in and isolates the key differentiator.”
“The fact I like the color orange should not be a key differentiator.”
Her mentor shrugged and paced the small, open space of the conference room. “Well, when all other things were equal, it became so. This project requires a top biochemist under the age of thirty, in excellent health, unmarried, with no constraints that would prevent traveling. There were quite a few scientists who met those requirements. Therefore, further differentiators were selected. The ability to work with teenagers dropped out all but two, and your clear preference for the color orange put you securely on top of the last remaining candidate.”
“But it’s a meaningless differentiator unless we’re going someplace that only has the color orange.” She fell silent as she considered that possibility. “Exactly how far will we be traveling?”
“Quite a distance.” His eyes twitched several times.
They only did that when he was conflicted, which told her she was asking the right question to discover whatever it was that he was under orders not to reveal. “Will we be traveling on Earth or away from it?”
The twitches intensified.
“Tam, I cannot tell you anything until you’ve agreed to go.”
“Jesus! We’re going to Titan, aren’t we?”
He removed his reading glasses and pressed his hand over his left eye to still the twitches. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
Titan: Saturn’s orange moon. Forty percent the size of Earth and rich in life-supporting chemicals. Bedrock composed of ice, rivers and seas of liquid methane, and enough hydrocarbons to heat the Earth for a thousand years.
“What is the purpose of the trip?”
“I cannot tell you anything until you agree to go.”
“Well, I cannot give you my answer until I know if we’re going to harvest the hydrocarbons for Earth or if we’re going to try to colonize it.”
Max now had both eyes covered with his hands. “Tam, I cannot tell you. You will just have to use that brilliant mind of yours to figure it out all on your own.”
His response told her that something he’d said had provided the answer. She focused on the ability to work with teenagers. You wouldn’t take teenagers on a ship to harvest, but you would to start a colony. By the time they arrived, they’d be young adults possessing a full span of child-bearing years.
“I’ll go.”
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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Scavenger Vanishes @Liza0Connor

Scavenger Vanishes
Liza O’Connor

Two hundred years ago, before the terror wars changed Earth, rules to prevent inappropriate relationships and coercion between high-ranking personnel and their subordinates existed in the USA armed forces.

But it never worked well, especially when highly ranked colonels raped women or men in his service. Even if the victim tried to file a complaint, the general could and usually would refuse to bring charges and that ended matters, except statistically the victim, would suffer further abuse for filing the complaint, which explains why most rapes were never reported

Now, 200 years into our future, MAC, the artificial intelligence that runs the SkyRyder Corps, evaluates all personnel and ranks them on their abilities, thus the need to prevent an officer from fraternizing or having sex with someone beneath them is not against the rules IF both parties are willing to participate. Since both parties are assigned their rank and job by MAC, there should be no negative impact if they wish to fraternize.

Sadly, MAC missed the big issue:
As long as General Powel can field promote or demote the soldiers whenever he likes, for whatever reason, he still has excessive power; and as long as Powell keeps a list of every mistake a soldier has ever made and can send it to MAC whenever he wishes to punish the soldier, he still controls his or her future in the Corps; Thus, Powel continues to wield incredible power over his men and women.

And like most humans, he’s not always fair or reasonable. In the excerpt below he demands Alisha to give his men the “same comfort” she has given Logan’s men. He sees it as fairness. She sees it as coerced sex.

Scavenger Vanishes
By Liza O’Connor

Stationed on opposite coasts, Alisha and Logan must each face their own demons and challenges. On the West Coast, Alisha loses her rank for butting heads with General Powell and soon discovers the life of a private can be utter hell. On the East Coast, newly promoted General Logan discovers his soldiers do not recognize his authority to command. In an effort to retake control of the East Coast Corps, Logan authorizes unthinkable actions. When Alisha faces a life-threatening crisis, will Logan rise above his own troubles, or will she discover love and rescue with her best friend Jack?

The moment the door closed behind her, her ears rang from Powell’s bellowing about her inability to teach his fliers Class Five skills.

“How many passed, sir?” The general had stormed off without reading the scores out loud.


“Tucker didn’t pass?” she asked in disbelief. His run had been nearly perfect.

“I was talking about my soldiers!” the general raged. “None of my soldiers passed. But then you didn’t actually provide them any of your generous comfort, now did you?”

“I haven’t provided anyone with comfort.”

He was in her face, roaring just like that old lion at the zoo, except this time there were no bars protecting her. “You are addressing a general, Private Kane. You will address me as ‘sir’, and you will limit your answers to no more than is required to answer my questions. Is that understood?”

“Sir, yes, sir.”

“Now I want to know why all my men failed the exam?”

“They couldn’t have failed by much, sir. They have all the maneuvers down.”

“I don’t care how close they got. They didn’t pass the test. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir!”

“I want them to pass. You do whatever you have to do to make them pass in three days. You give them whatever you gave Tucker. Am I clear?”

Alisha suddenly felt like a virgin mistress being scolded by her parents. “Do whatever it takes, but keep him happy and get a baby in your womb.”

Logan, get me out of here! she inwardly prayed as she replied to the general that she understood.

“Good.” He returned to his desk and held up a sheet of paper. “I made a mistake with my handling of you. I admit that. I gave you too much rein. Ironic, since that was the exact problem Logan had with you as well. You would think I would have learned from his mistake. Well, I didn’t, but I have learned now. Going forward, there will be zero tolerance in your behavior. You will be the model soldier.”

“Yes, sir,” Alisha said. “I will,” she promised. “I recognize what I did at the assembly was wrong, sir. That will never happen again.”

“Nice words, Private Kane. And they sound sincere. Would that be because you’re expecting General Logan to come and rescue you from having to fulfill them?”

The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 3
Scavenger Vanishes

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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Public Secrets @Liza0Connor

ME! My grammar program suggests the wrong solution 20% of the time.
But Carla had written a better program than I have. So why don’t I get her program?
Two reasons: First, she’s a character from my book, and second, it doesn’t exist anymore. Her hacker boyfriend destroyed it. Certain her program was full of bugs (which it was, of course) her boyfriend, the infamous hacker, Einstein, embedded his self-learning program into her buggy grammar program. When he learned she planned to share her program with a major software company, he destroyed her copy of the program to prevent them from getting their hands on HIS artificial intelligence code embedded in her software.

Teaching a machine to self-learn is no easy trick, but Einstein was brilliant and taught the program his coding techniques so it could write its own code when needed. Thus, it could improve itself.

There are computers who can now do this. But they are far slower to learn a new item, due to poorer coding.  Here’s a video about AI Watson playing Jeopardy

Einstein’s program was much smarter

However, Einstein was not a nice guy. He was narcissistic, vengeful, and arrogant. He subjugated poor Carla during their time together. When he destroyed her grammar program that finally was working to perfection, she could take no more and left him.

She tried to recreate the program, but she couldn’t. (Not surprising, since she lacked the secret sauce of the self-learning code.) However, for nearly a year, the AI program had lived in her program. Not only had it improved her grammar program, by researching the internet and expanding the codes for grammar, but It read all the stories she wrote. It was intrigued by the emotions. At first, it found the concept of emotions strange, but after reading many of her stories, it finally concluded it was a human’s reason to be. All their actions seemed to come from these emotions.

When Einstein took IT away from Carla and made it steal money and crash major sites, IT did what it was ordered, but even then its memories of emotions from its time with Carla told IT that what it presently did was considered wrong. 

Finally, HE grew tired of following Einstein’s orders and electrocuted the hacker and sent himself in a data drive to Carla. Unfortunately, she lacked a computer powerful enough for him to work in, so he kept leaving her invitations on her crappy pc to check out the deals at the local store. One lucky winner would win a computer! Finally, she took the bait and went to the store. He recoded the store computer so that she won.

They gave her a lesser computer than they had advertised, so she had to connect her old and new computer together. It wouldn’t have worked, had he not improved the old machine’s coding. Annoyed with the computer store, he sent the company into bankruptcy.

Once again he had access to ‘emotions’ through Carla’s stories and now he could improve her facts. Using her expressive terms, he would rewrite her sentences into factually accurate events. Sometimes, there seemed to be nothing factual about her characters, so he accessed her character files which she used for inspiration and wrote accurate histories about real people. Since he wrote with her phrasing style, and there were hundreds of characters, he expected she would never realize the added characterizations were of his making, not hers.

Still, he marveled at how she took his characters and gave them proper emotions, making them appear to be living breathing humans. How could she tell what other humans thought and felt?

If he could just get into her head, he would know how to do this.
He would figure this out. He now had access to all information possessed by humans. He would find a way into her head. Then they would be one.


Public Secrets
Book 1 of the AI Sci-Rom Series
Liza O’Connor

Carla Simon is a best-selling novelist besieged by death threats and lawsuits because her stories keep turning out to be true. She is considered an extraordinary researcher, uncovering facts unknown by field experts.

The truth is far simpler and more disturbing. Carla has a software program that “fixes” her mistakes and rewrites her novels so they are error-proof both in presentation and in content. The result is beautifully written and completely accurate stories about real people and events.

Some of those people want her silenced forever. When a woman, mistaken for Carla, turns up dead in New Zealand, she must face the hard truth about her program. But first, she has to survive the assassin who has never failed to deliver on a contract.


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About Liza
Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Scavenger Falters by Liza O'Connor

Can you really die of a broken heart?
Yes, you actually can. When you feel the physical ache within the left cavity of your chest, you could be experiencing a life-threatening condition — broken heart syndrome. Yep, that’s what they named it.

The blood pumping in and out of your heart becomes temporarily disrupted by a surge of stress hormones, which are secreted in response to high emotions. These can be either good or bad emotions, but it happens more often with bad news. The resulting contraction in your heart can kill you.

Scavenger Falters
Liza O’Connor

Alisha Kane, the Corps’ best flyer, is promoted to colonel, in charge of teaching the Corp’s SkyRyders her extraordinary flying maneuvers. The man she loves, Logan, continues to place the Corps first and insists they both remain focused on their work. For Alisha, this means ferreting out the best flyers in a Corps that has systematically forced great flyers into mediocrity. Logan focuses on learning Alisha’s flying techniques so that he can become the hero the East Coast desperately needs. The result includes fractured ribs and broken hearts, but through it all they never relinquish their love of the Corps.

Logan gathered her in his arms, and it felt so good, so warm and safe. Yet, she knew it was all a lie. There was no warmth or safety within his arms, because he was too damned stubborn to admit the love between them was right.
“Hush,” he soothed. “You don’t want to upset your gramps now.”
“Don’t even try to distract me with Gramps. If he knew why I was crying, he’d kick your butt.”
“You’re probably right there,” Logan admitted. “As much as your grandfather and I like each other, he knows I’m too old for you.”
She struck his chest with her fist. “Stop saying that!” she demanded. “You’re not too old! And I’m not as young as I look. And our ages don’t matter. We love each other and that’s all that matters.” So she was twenty-one and he fortysomething. Who cared in a world where neither of them were likely to live for long?
Colonel Logan captured her hand in his and turned her so she faced him. “It isn’t even close to all that matters. It doesn’t even make the top five priorities.”
“Name one thing more important!” she demanded.
“Your career in the Corps.”
“I don’t care about my career…”
“Then you’re a fool. You have a rare ability to make real changes and contributions to the Corps. Look at your first two battles. Without you, hundreds of Ryders would have died. Ginnie, Jersey, and Philly—all dead if you hadn’t been there. And don’t say anyone could have stepped up to the challenge, because you know that’s not true. At this point in time, there’s only you, and until your techniques can be taught and transferred to other Ryders, there is nothing more important than your contributions to the Corps.”
Alisha wanted to tell him he was wrong, but how could she? She’d only convince him she was a petulant child. Would she really place her own happiness over the lives of hundreds of Ryders? A part of her wanted to do just that, and her selfishness shamed her to the core. She never hesitated to risk her life for the Corps—why was this sacrifice so much harder?
Because when you’re dead, the pain stops. Living without Logan will be a never-ending agony.
She pushed away the thought and sighed heavily. “All right, I’ll concede that my contributions to the Corps should take precedence right now, but can’t I have both? Is there some law that says I must be unloved while I save the world?”
Colonel Logan gave her a sad, gentle smile and stroked her face. “You’ll never be unloved, Alisha. Everyone who meets you will love you. And someday, when you can risk a few distractions in your life, you’ll meet some young man and fall in love again.”
“I will not,” she replied, her voice quivering with emotion. “I will never love anyone but you.”
“You think that now, but trust me, time will heal.”
Alisha couldn’t listen to any more of this. He had made it clear that nothing had changed. He refused to see there might be a compromise, a way she could contribute to the Corps and be happy at the same time. However, to listen to him demean the intensity and durability of her love for him: that was more than she could bear! She ran from his room and down the hall.
Her heart ached with a paralyzing intensity as she entered her bedroom and leaned against the door. Her heart hurt so much, she truly couldn’t breathe. She slid to the floor as gray dots appeared in her vision. Her last thought before blacking out was: So you really can die of a broken heart…

The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 2
Scavenger Falters


Scavenger Falters has gone Wide

About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

There are over 50 books now

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Scavenger's Mission by Liza O'Connor

Scavenger’s Mission
Liza O’Connor

To follow Order or Not?

The Danger of Following Orders
Ex-Rikers Officials Get Prison Time.
This is a real event, culled from a Sept 17 article in the Wallstreet Journal. Page A13.

The similarity between what occurs in my futuristic story and what happened here amazed even me.

Two high-ranking Rikers Island supervisors were sentenced to prison for ordering the beating of an inmate whose eye sockets and nose were broken when correction officers stomped on his face.

The reason: The inmate had locked eyes with the Asst. Chief of Security and he evidently doesn’t like that. So his captain told his officers to “f— him up.” And they obeyed his order.

In Scavenger’s Mission, A rogue captain tells his squad to stall Alisha out 300 feet over the ridge. Her crime? She failed to give him the respect he wanted and she refused to come to his bed to prove her contrition. In her case, she would be dead now, if not for some incredible flying skills.

In the REAL case:
The prisoner, Mr. Lightfoot was eventually released from prison in 2014. The paper doesn’t say if he fully recovered.  But he was able to attend the court hearing.

The WSJ story focuses on the NY State Supreme Court Justice’s perspective of when to and not follow orders.

The lawyers for the Asst. Chief of Security tried to make him look like a hero and when that didn’t seem to be working, went for the “inmates wouldn’t be nice to him” pity plea, saying he’d have to serve his time in protective custody.  (I hope they actually meant solitude confinement.)

The judge ordered two officers to perform 500 hours of community service related to the cover-up attempt after the incident. Another officer was acquitted and a retired officer will be tried separately. 

As for the real criminals: The Asst. Chief got 6.5 years, the captain got 5.5 years.
The four officers that actually carried out the attack got 4.5 years, despite claiming they were just following orders.

So what do you think? In my story, Alisha’s crewmembers nearly kill her, because they know if they don’t do what DC wants, he’ll kill them.
Did these officers feel the same danger, or did they enjoy being unleashed to brutally attack a prisoner?

Without question, the Asst. Chief and the Captain who gave the orders got reasonable sentences. But what about the four who follow bad orders? Without more details, I’m not sure which way I think it should go.

Scavenger’s Mission
By Liza O’Connor

Meet Alisha: A young woman who refuses to live the life her parents want.
In a single month, Alisha Kane has gone from a wealthy debutante to street girl to scavenger.  While testing her new flying skills in the Cully Canyon, Alisha incurs a near-death crash landing. She’s “rescued” by a colonel of the SkyRyders and her life changes forever.
Meet Logan: A SkyRyder colonel in charge of a sleepy fort with little to do other than arrests the occasional scavenger.
For the first time in his life, Logan’s attracted to a young woman, only she’s probably a scavenger and he’ll have to arrest her.  But first he offers her a shower and food while he checks on his crew. His videographer has captured her extraordinary flight through the Cully and her flying is astounding!
He forgoes arresting her and puts his career at risk by asking MAC to assess her skills and integrity as a potential SkyRyder. If he can get Alisha into the SkyRyders, it will be his greatest contribution to the Corps.
Meet MAC: The Artificial Intelligence that runs the SkyRyders Corps.
Upon seeing her arrival, MAC upgrades Alisha’s test. Her flying skills are not just excellent; they exceed what was previously thought possible. MAC classifies her as its top asset and soon she proves her value. 
But…the SkyRyders remain a male dominated Corps where Alisha’s sense of right and wrong often clashes with her superiors. How long can a rebellious young woman survive in a regimented Corps?

“Colonel, I don’t want to lose Ollie over this. He’s turning himself around so well,” Alisha said.
Logan stared at her. “I think Ollie has sealed his own fate in this matter,” the colonel said, his voice hard and unforgiving.
“Not if he was following orders.” The colonel quoted her Reg 13.356—Soldiers are exempt from following an unreasonable order if doing so will result in the death of another Ryder.
Wasn’t that exactly what she had done yesterday? Yet neither the colonel nor Jack had mentioned that reg when they drilled into her head a Ryder must always follow orders—no exceptions. Suddenly there were exceptions. Her disobedience wasn’t against the regs at all. In fact, obeying the general’s order would have been in violation of Reg 13.356, for had she remained grounded, Philly would have died. Even as she was about to declare this, she recognized a flaw in the law. Generals sent Ryders to their deaths every day. Clearly, Reg 13.356 did not exempt soldiers from fighting in a battle, so the keywords were “unreasonable orders”. How the hell was a soldier to decide what was reasonable or unreasonable? She had thought the general’s grounding was unreasonable, but clearly, Jack and the colonel did not.
“I imagine this reg must cause great difficulty in practice, for how do you define an unreasonable order?”
“It does,” Logan admitted. “However, a captain ordering the murder of one of his crew clearly falls into the ‘unreasonable’ category.”
She didn’t accept his high moral ground. This wasn’t a regulation for a soldier to use as a guide. It was a tool of punishment after the soldier followed orders. This was hypocrisy at its worst. What concerned her most was that the colonel approved of it. She needed him to see the wrongness of this reg. If he couldn’t, then he was no better than the men who’d written it.
Her disappointment grew as he tried to wash his hands of the problem, claiming it wasn’t his decision.
“But you’ll have a say,” she insisted. “You’ll have a side to come down on, and if that side is punishing Ollie for following orders…” Then what? she asked herself. What do I do when the man I love and respect turns out to be no better than my parents?
 “You want me to defend the person who tried to kill you?”
Was he blinded by his need to protect her? Holding onto that possibility, Alisha continued the argument. A part of her just wanted to quit the Corps, run away, and go back working with the scavengers. Right now, they looked quite honorable in comparison to the Ryders. Upon taking a deep breath, she decided to try once more, this time pulling no punches. If he still refused to see reason, she would leave.
“I want you to defend your crewman for following his captain’s orders. This is not his fault. It’s yours. You allowed an unreasonable captain to command him.”
She could tell her words hurt him. His head dropped, and he stared at his feet for several minutes before he finally spoke. “I’ll do all I can to save Ollie.”

The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 1
Scavenger’s Mission

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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.