Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Or whatever holiday salutation you prefer. 

So few posts, so much going on.  But it was important to drop in and with the two people who would read this Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hannukah, etc etc.

I hope all is well.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Process

I have book 1 out being read by beta readers. I am outlining book 2. I've discovered that to write a book, I need to hit critical mass. Sort of like a uranium stack, if I reach critical mass the right reactions happen. 

After book 1 I really just wanted to be done with it for a bit.  But ideas keep seeping into my head, like high energy neutrons. They strike a neuron, and BAM! an idea would fission out of it. That idea floats around in my cranium for a while, then it hits something and another reaction occurs.  Book 2 is sort of taking shape in my downtime, when I'm away from the computer. Talking to a friend about book 1 the other day, an idea for book 2 came to me. Fortunately for her, my cranium is a safe containment system for the ideas, or they might rocket out and start a critical cascade in HER mind. :)

Silliness. But my point is that I was unable to rush right into book 2 successfully. I wanted to slam out 50,000 words for Nanowrimo, but instead felt that it was weighing me down. I set Nano aside and gave up on it, because I'm discovering that deadlines and quotas aren't how I write. I might write eight chapters in one day, or I might write one chapter in two weeks, but they have to come as they come. After, I suppose, the ideas have banged around on the neurons enough that critical mass is reached. 

I went to Writer's Write today, and although I didn't offer up my writing, I read the writings of my peers. Exceptional as always. Inspiring. Motivational.

I feel that soon book 2 is going to explode from me, in a plethora of ideas and creativity. 

We'll see.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holidays

Sorry for the lack of a post, during the holiday season the posting may be limited.  Family stuff, shopping I don't want to really do, etc.  My mood improves with the new year, as an introvert I find December to be a month of incredible stress and very tiring.

It's snowing outside.  Weatherman promised 12-18".  Then 6-10".  Now it's looking like much less.  I like when snowfall predictions go the other way.  12-18" turns into 24".  Now that's an improvement in the forecast.  It means staying home and eating warm homemade goodies, watching the kids build a snowman from a nice warm window, and/or joining them to hurl a few well crafted snowballs.

Not at the moment, though.  It's 9 degrees and we're 11" short of the original promise.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Books

I got the Lulu books in yesterday, and I am very pleased with them.  The quality and utility are exactly what I wanted for books that will be marked up and revised.

So hopefully that process can get started, and the book can get on the final road to being done. I wish there were a good coffee shop a block from my house that I could just walk too, sit in a comfortable chair, and read it without interruption, but that's not how life works. ;)

Let the final revising begin!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lulu

Lulu: Self publishing and book printing.

I had the first four copies of On the Shores of a Dark Sea printed there today.  Full color covers, double spaced for my beta readers to mark in, and coil bound on 8.5x11 paper.

If anyone else is thinking of getting something printed there, make sure you look for coupon codes on the internet.  I got a free extra copy (I paid for 3) and free shipping on my order.

http://www.retailmenot.com/view/lulu.com

That's where I got the two codes I used. 

 I'm excited about getting the copies in. Now I just need 3 beta readers.  The free copy?  It's for my bookshelf... for posterity.
 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Busy wife, busy life

I'm rapidly discovering that when my wife is busy, I'm busier than I like to be.  Ideally I'd like time to write, ponder or create art, work on the occasional car, and/or plot to take over the world. Marriage is more than a sharing of space, it's a sharing of atmosphere, of mood, of success and failure. 

My wife is in the midst of changing jobs.  She's also in the middle of some silliness at her old job created by people lying about things that were done or weren't done, I can't really follow it all. What I do know is that when she's unhappy, I'm generally not all that happy myself.

I'll be glad when she's on her new job, and happy with it. PLEASE let her be happy with it! Because I need to be focused on science, on writing, on the digital arts.

Right now that's not happening. Life, make the noise stop. It's interfering with the real stuff that matters.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nanowrimo

Due to Nanowrimo there will probably be fewer blog entries than usual. If I've been doing this long enough to have a usual yet.

So for now, to hold you over, I introduce you to the IFLS site.  Not the nicest way to put it, but indeed, I do F love science. What better page to introduce you to that site than one that talks about Kepler and the amazing discoveries it is making.

http://www.iflscience.com/space/kepler-space-telescope-discovers-more-potentially-habitable-planets


I should probably also direct you to Nanowrimo, in case you want to know about that.

http://nanowrimo.org/participants/dsmithwick/novels/legacy-427046/stats

That links to my attempts to write 50,000 words in a month.

Will it happen?  I don't know, it's not really my style to be that prolific, but I'm trying.  I think quality might be down a bit, but that's what revision is for.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book 2: Part 2

I have started on Book 2, I'm about 6,000 words in.  I've written four chapters, any of which could probably be the first chapter, but I have one in particular of which I am fond.  The character I've created to oppose Sarah Dayson in book 2 will be vile, a user, and a sociopath.

I submitted the chapter with the antagonist as my second submission to the Zebulon writing contest. It's probably not nearly as well edited as the first entry, but hey, I'm running out of time.

The bad man's name is Garrette Orson. I can't tell you much more about him, because I don't want to give too much away as spoilers.  But he is a vile person. Writing him is both completely creepy and a bit invigorating as a test of what nastiness I'm capable of thinking up.  Orson is going to be much more horrible as a human being than Merik (from book 1) ever was.

Orson is completely disrespectful of women, something rare in his society. Since his fleet is no longer in Alliance space, however, he sees an opportunity to change the rules to what he likes them to be.

Here is an excerpt:

______________________________________________



“Those look like toys,” Commander Heinrich, the Schein’s XO said, laughing. “What are you going to do, play us to death?” She started unstrapping her acceleration webbing, a step Captain Lorre followed.
Orson pointed his weapon at Heinrich’s leg and pulled the trigger. A loud popping sound slammed into Orson’s ears, momentarily stunning him.

Blood flowed from the Commander’s leg, coagulating in deep red spheres which floated on the air currents. She slumped in her webbing as she screamed, “You son of a bitch!”
______________________________________________

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book 2: Legacy

I've decided to set Book 1 aside for a few week to a month.  When I come back to it, I won't have the close attachment to it I do now and will better catch any remaining errors.

So what to do?  Start book 2, of course.  Working title is "Legacy".

I'm three chapters in, and have written my first chapter to include the POV of a Hive "character".  I have that in quotes because the Hive are not individuals as you and I are. The Hive are much more fluid, exchanging bits and pieces with each other in order to maximize computational strength.

Anyway, here is a taste of the Hive.
______________________________________________________________________

        Bn76249x00 orbited over ZD2383. The humans called it Hamor. The small scout moved into a slightly higher orbit with each revolution around the planet. It had sensors extended, a woven web of nanites a dozen kilometers in diameter. Within the woven chain individual nanites had configured themselves to detect individual elements or compounds. Alliance ships were each different, each left its own distinct trail of chemical detritus for Bn76249x00 to catalog and, if need be, follow.

Bn76249x00 replayed the open signal it had captured during the battle over this particular world.

“Mr. Gilbert, notify all surviving fleets that Seventh Fleet is retreating to rendezvous position gamma.” 

Bn76249x00 cross indexed the voice print with the chemical signature it was currently detecting. The voice print and chemical signature matched a human battlecruiser designated Michael Stennis and the captain of the vessel, Captain Sarah Dayson. Captain Dayson was designated a top priority for colonization or elimination. Bn76249x00 assigned the location of the chemical traces top priority in its search. It used subsequent orbital passes to detect a projected path for the Michael Stennis based upon density and composition of the chemical signature of the trail.

Several dozen orbits later, Bn76249x00 determined the projected path of the Michael Stennis, but it made no rational sense. The path was clear, but in a direction unexpected by Bn76249x00. That was not the only problem. The dispersal pattern for the trail was different than usual, and the density of the chemical trail indicated an unexpected rate of speed faster than light. It paused for several billion calculation cycles while it considered the possibilities, and decided that the calculation limits of Bn76249x00 required a larger network. Bn76249x00 changed course and approached a mobile base for docking and network integration. Bn76249x00’s computational ability would increase orders of magnitude once docked. 

After docking with mobile base FWt78Ydn857, Bn76249x00 integrated itself into the larger neural net of the base. Moments later Bn76249x00 jettisoned its propulsion unit, a decision having been made. Captain Sarah Dayson and her fleet must have a new drive system, and an unknown base existed upon her departure vector. Calculations indicated a high probability the base lay withing the Abzurrin Abyss, a bubble of deep space with few stars near the top of the Sagittarius arm. 

Bn76249x00 was outfitted with an FTL capable drive core and departed to pursue the Stennis into the Abzurrin Abyss with the intention of locating the base and directing node fleets to destroy it.

Bn76249x00 followed the chemical trail away from ZD2383 to ensure it was on the proper vector, then withdrew its nanite lattice into the body of the spacecraft. Once secured within, Bn76249x00 spun up his singularity and entered FTL. It jumped a short distance, found the highest density of molecules indicating the proper vector for jumping after the Stennis, then jumped again. Bn76249x00 jumped about one light year at a time, reverifying the scent and vector, then jumping again. The scent was very diffused, much more than the trail left by a ship moving at regular FTL speeds. Bn76249x00, however, was an experienced scout. Its subroutines had been optimized for difficult hunts, and expanded to consider the irrational responses possible by a human prey.

Months later Bn76249x00 stopped at the edge of the Abyss, and scanned. It detected nothing, but there was a lot of space to search. Bn76249x00 set to the task with machine efficiency.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Breaks

I finished the second rewrite of my book, and that's exciting right?  I should want to get right into editing on the third pass, right?

Nope.

I'm spending my weekend doing anything BUT writing.  I'm thinking about driving to Denver to go to the computer store there.  I'm thinking about going to Camping World and looking at fifth wheel campers.  I'm definitely going to play some computer games.  I'm an avid computer gamer, I love them. Right now a game called Distant Worlds by Matrix Games has my attention. You run a galactic empire. No Hive, but there are pirates.  Arrrghh.

So Monday (probably) I'll get back to it.  Until then, it's time to goof off.

My 8 and 9 year old kids kicked me in the pants at Wii Bowling today.  They're bowling in the 180s, I'm bowling in the 130s.  Sad really.  But, you know, kids these days. Or whatever it is that middle aged men are supposed to blame it on when their kids kick their butts at console games.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6 days?

Has it really been six days since my last entry?

That's because I have been BUSY!

I took my daughter to a drama lab last night, it was awesome.  I was really impressed with her participation in a group that was older than her. She jumped right in and read her parts in the plays the group wanted to share without hesitation. I'm a proud Dad.

I also have been writing quite a bit.  I wrote my romance chapter, of course, took it to critique group where they kicked my butt and gave me some suggestions for rewriting.  So I rewrote the entire chapter except for some good lines I wanted to keep.

I also did second revision on Chapters 37-40. 

I have 11 more chapters to revise, and probably 4 or maybe 5 Captain's Log chapters to write. 

After that I print the entire book, chapter by chapter and do my own hardcopy edit. Once that's done, all 55 chapters, I will enter my edits into the computer and call it a finished product.

Then I'll need two or three beta readers to read the book for me, checking for any errors I might have missed, on my science and math, and looking for any plot holes. 

Once I get the reports back from the beta readers, I make any changes I like from their suggestions/fixes, then it is REALLY in final copy.

After that I ship the first 50 pages off to Jabberwocky and wait to see if I pick up an agent.

It's all seeming a lot closer when I type it out like this.  Hopefully "soon" it will be done.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Writing romance

Writing anything mushy, romantic, lovey-dovey, erotic... I've never done it before.

Tonight I rewrote my Chapter 36, totally changing it from a meeting of two officers who discuss recent events to a meeting of two officers who get down and get busy.

I have no idea if it's good or not, I don't even READ romance novels. But these two characters had to get busy, the story demanded it. So busy they got, and I'm going to tap into my resource of friends, fellow writers, and the FBI crime lab computers to determine if this is acceptable romance or not.

I just wish it wasn't 1:15am so I could ask someone now.  I'm sort of in a hurry to either move on to Ch. 37 or to fix this chapter if I screwed it up too bad.

Patience is not my greatest virtue.

EDIT:  on a side note, I entered this novel in the Zebulon Writer's Contest last night.  That felt good.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting older...

I'm having heart tests done.  My cholesterol is, according to the doctors office I just talked too, "troublesome". 

I'm not sure what that means, but hey, I've spent a lifetime being trouble. Not least of all for myself.

But I find the indignity of growing older to be the most troublesome of all things.  Your body starts to fail you in ways that rob you of your dignity, and eventually your mind does the same.  Unless providence removes you early, you finish life the same way you start it, in diapers and drooling on yourself.  Probably just as stinky too.

I'm only 47 (to which my daughter would say, "only?") but I can see it coming down the tracks. I keep my mind healthy, but I haven't really done the same for the rest of me. So I'm converting my desk into a standing/sitting desk, so that I might try to stand more.  My wife and I are talking about buying a Total Gym and changing our basement into a place to get into shape.  I'll believe it when I see it, but I respond well to the reward/task instructional method so I'll probably be fit as Hell if I'm rewarded with sex, delicious food, or a 1963 Corvette.  Any or all in a combination will do.  An old Apache pickup truck would do as well.  Or a Model A Cabriolet.

But even if the hook sinks in and I go for that bait, it's just a matter of time.

Where the hell is the cyborg future I was promised as a kid?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some science in the science fiction

I will, of course, try to explain more as time passes of the science that I'm putting in my books.  There are some liberties, but I do try to stick to the science as much as possible.

Here are a couple of examples. 

This is a link to a paper that discusses gravity, specifically gravity waves (which carry my fifth force in the novel) and gravitons (which are used in the FTL drive system of the Michael Stennis).

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1309.5343v1.pdf

If it is found that gravity exists in waves, or in gravitons, it will potentially be possible to alter them in some fashion, just as it was recently discovered that photons could be altered to create a new state of pseudo-matter.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-bind-photons-together-to-create-new-state-of-matter-comparable-to-lightsabers-8841612.html

In the backstory of my book, Schwarzchild-Kerr lenses manipulate gravity like a glass lens manipulates light to some degree, although not to the point that it allows artificial gravity on ships.  The SK lens allows the FTL drive to warp space before and behind the fleet of ships that move FTL.

Another thing, and I found this after I wrote the description of black holes as writhing demons into my story, is this:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930093720.htm

This is interesting, because I have the adepts in my book refer to black holes as "tentacled demons" because of the unevenness of gravity around them. 

I love when science catches up to my fiction before I'm even able to get it published. ;)


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Writers groups

Just a note to stress the importance of socializing with other writers.

I suspect that I share some things in common with a host of my writing peers, although there are of course plenty who differ.  One of the things I suspect is common among writers is introversion. There are times I'd rather skip a meal (that's huge!) than go to the grocery store and be among people I don't know. I go to Sam's Club or Costco on weekdays just because I know there will be fewer strangers there.

That attitude made it hard, at least at first, to attend a writing group.  I overcame those feelings, however, and am VERY glad I did. Nothing has helped my writing like the friends I've made within my local groups, and now that they're friends I no longer feel like I want to run screaming for the door when I associate with them. I can only hope that I have helped them as much as they've helped me.

My point? If I can get out there with my degree of introversion, so can you.  Get out and join a writing group.  They're going to make you better whether they give you bad advice or good because you're surely smart enough to sort through input for the gems.  You'll get people who can critique your hardcopy, and not just online submissions. You'll get out of the house and potentially get some vitamin D in your system.  Your skin makes that, btw, when exposed to sunlight. ;)

I'm heading to my Sunday meeting later today, and am eager to share my writing and read that of others. Give it a try.  It's fun.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PPWC 2014: The Zebulon

For those of you interested in entering writing contests, I'd like to offer up the Zebulon run by my friend Jeff Schmoyer. 

The Zebulon Contest

I'm planning on entering, so the best you'll be able to get is 2nd place, but I'm sure that prize is very nice.  I haven't looked at it because the only one that matters in my case is the 1st place prize, but that's why there is more than one place and one prize.

LOL!  Kidding.

Enter, it's nice to win things.

1st place:  Refund of conference fees for 2014
2nd place: $40
3rd place: $20

The entry fee is $20, and you can get your first 2500 words of your manuscript critiqued for an additional $20.   Really, just go and check it out.  I don't want to retype it all here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Success!

At least to a degree.  I got a request for the first 50 pages of my novel this weekend from an agency in NYC.  How sweet is that?

It's the end of a convention weekend, I'm whacked, and I'm going to rest tonight.  But tomorrow I hope to write another entry with more details. 

Night!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

View from the 12th floor of the Renaiscance Hotel. 

Denver, and beyond that, the Rockies.


Right now I can't stop thinking about dinner!  My wife is supposed to arrive soon, we drove separately as she's not attending the conference and wanted to be free to roam around without stopping me from doing the same.

When she arrives, I'm going to eat like an American.  Which I am, so that's convenient.

Headed out...

Conference time...

Headed out to lunch at Red Robin with the wife, then traveling to Denver.  75.1 miles between my house and the Renaissance Hotel.

If I have time, I'll post about it from the conference, if not, I'll see you all Monday and post about it then.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hectic week

I'm one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet.  I don't do paperwork well, I don't do planning things well, really, I'm a mess.

But creativity I have in overabundance. This week, due to the writers conference I'm leaving for Thursday morning, I have been unable to write a single word.  Seriously, not a single word has come out of me creatively in a few days.

In that case, there are other outlets, right?

I tried computer games.  Bleh, I really didn't get into them tonight.

Facebook?  It can get pretty boring too.

I am, however, also a very visually creative person.  I sculpt, a bit, although I haven't in a while.

I thought to myself tonight, "Self, what can you do that furthers your Dark Sea project, even if you can't write?"

"Make a painting," I replied.

Seriously, I should probably spend less time talking to myself, and more time painting or writing, so that's exactly what I did.

This is a work in progress, and will change dramatically as I edit it, but here is the initial work I'm titling Sunrise on Refuge.  THIS IS ROUGH DRAFT. ;)  Seriously, I have less than an hour in this.  It will get better if I return to it.  It will get more detail where it needs it, detail taken out where it needs that. Green, however, is probably the way things are there.  I will probably blue up the ocean, I am thinking it will be a deep dark blue with the sun just rising in the east.


Very green, right?  But then it's an orange star with a much thicker atmosphere, less oxygen, and more nitrogen.  I thinking it would be green.  So I will be detailing the rolling hills, working on the ocean in the front, adding in a few more clouds.  In my mind, this is what the coastline of Zeffult would look like as you approach it over the ocean from the west.  If you do that, however, you want to approach lower or an adept will get you.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting ready....

Hi all,

I'm getting ready for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference, which has kept me hopping. I may have already mentioned that, but I'm running around like a headless chicken to be honest.

My one page synopsis is complete, and I have a generic query letter.

I am getting ready to print out 20 copies of my first 10 pages now, in hopes of handing them out at the conference to agents, fellow writers, or Klingon warriors if they'll take them. 

We'll see.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Deluge at Refuge

It's been raining like nuts here in Colorado Springs. Amazingly my writing group showed up in pretty good numbers last night, but there was a lot of concern about road flooding and the like.

I took some video on my iPhone, once I get things sorted out with that I'll put up a video on YouTube and link it here.

I heard the rain described as "biblical".  I don't have a boat of any kind, so I hope not.

I don't always get drenched in Colorado, but when I do, it's a deluge.
Stay dry, my friends.

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's been a while

It's been a few days since I posted, I've been busy.  Last weekend my wife and I actually socialized with real people, and on Saturday we played Glow Golf at the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs.  It was delightful, as was the meal we had beforehand at Steak N Shake, which will potentially supplant my love for Red Robin. Of course restaurants aren't like ladies, you can actually love more than one and not incur the wrath of both restaurants.

I'm 30 chapters into revising the book, and discovered I needed to completely rewrite chapter 30.  Bummer.  But, it was in the wrong point of view. I had it in Captain Dayson's, and it needed to be in Lieutenant Corriea's POV. 

So now I'm rewriting, and that's taking me a few days, because I am working my psyche up to it. :)

I want to thank my friends, Roberta and Chris for the help they gave me on Sunday with that chapter, btw.  It was these two excellent writers who convinced me it needed to be in Corriea's POV.

Ok, back to it, I think I have a good four hours in me now.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy holiday

I hope you all had one.  I did a bit of writing on Saturday, but really haven't done much except... well, I haven't done anything this weekend actually.  It was sort of nice, I suppose.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

A year on Refuge

Ember (Refuge's primary) orbits Oasis at about 70,000,000 kilometers.

I realized today that Refuge's seasons would be tied to the axial tilt and orbital duration of Ember, and completely unrelated to the speed with with Refuge orbits Ember.

Oasis is .71 solar masses.
Ember is 3,487 times the mass of the Earth.

I used this calculator (previously used to calculate Refuge's orbital duration) to determine the year length of Ember and Refuge.

Planetary Orbit Calculator

I was completely surprised by the answer.

1.0664 standard years.

What does that mean?  It means Refuge has a 389 day year, then a 390 day year, alternating.

The actual orbit is 389.49428 days (Earth days) long.

I thought that with Ember being so much closer to its star, the year would be much shorter.  But with the smaller mass of Oasis the year is remarkably close to our own.  So they'll have Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter that are close to our duration, each about 6 days longer.

Since Refuge orbits Ember in 2.22551(Earth days) that means that Refuge orbits Ember 175.01349 times during a Refugian year. 

So I now get the task of making a calender for the locals based upon that. :) 

Wish me luck.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Revision

I just wanted to share that revision is the worst part.  There are a couple of reasons.

These words have come out of my mouth in the last few days.

"I ******* wrote that?"

"Oh my GOD, I just want to play one more game of World of Tanks, THEN I'll get started."

"This is why I didn't work in an office before.  I hate paperwork."

"Christ, Jake!  Stop it!"  (My dog gassed me out of the room.  Seriously.)

I am working on chapter 6 at the moment, printing the chapters as I think they're done.  I'm putting them in a nice binder, ready to hand them off to a beta reader once I have completed the entire book.  I am not looking forward to chapters 12-30, that's where the most loose ends and unfulfilled subplots are going to be, and probably the most work. 

I do love telling a good story, though, so I'm back to it.  It's 10:30, I have a good 5-6 hours in me tonight.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

First draft is finished.

I finished the first draft of my novel, and came in at 72,360 words.

First draft is the key descriptor, now there are holes to patch up, character voice to look after, cutting, adding, and then it'll be a second draft manuscript.  Fortunately I think the first draft is probably the hardest part in the sheer quantity of work involved, but the precision involved on the subsequent drafts is what's an issue now.  It's going to say a lot of good if no contradictions, messed up names, or improperly tangled plots are present when it's all done.  It will say the opposite if it's a mess.

So starting Monday I'll be diving into it for revision two.

What I'm wondering now is whether or not to complete all three books before I attempt to find an agent for them.  Hmmmm.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Black holes and mass

((2 * G) / (c^2)) * (1 000 000 000 000 000 kg) =
1.48512969 × 10-12 meters
A 1 quadrillion kilogram mass, compressed into a singularity, creates a black hole that is 
.00000000000148512969 meters in diameter.

I was thinking about the FTL drive on my starship for my novel yesterday, the method by which the mass within the drive would be contained (magnetic bottle), how it would affect the ship (it would add to the mass of the vessel, in essence, GREATLY increasing fuel cost when it comes to maneuvering the ship.

In fact, it makes the very idea of moving the Michael Stennis impossible by conventional means, at least in any practical way.

So that means there has to be a science fiction means of moving the ship, either described very loosely or in a very detailed (yet likely a flawed) fashion.

I've decided to invent a lens for the purpose of my book that shifts gravity, which is how the ship will move.  That lens will be able to focus the gravity of the black hole adjacent to the ship, causing the Stennis to "fall" into the artificial gravity well.  I've seen this used in many other books, but don't remember the methodology used.  Any similarity to other books is coincidental, and not meant to encroach, but two authors arriving at the same method should be confirmation of the idea, not a challenge. :)

The ships of the Seventh Fleet move via fusion engines and fusion microthrusters, but the main drive of the Stennis will be a gravitational drive facilitated by a HUGE black hole and gravitational lensing.  By huge I mean:

((2 * G) / (c^2)) * (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kg) =
1.48512969 meters

Since the black hole will be falling with the rest of the ship into its own gravitational field, mass no longer matters (lol... get it, matters).

The lens will be called... the Schwarzchild-Kerr lens in honor of two great black hole physicists.

Problem solved, science fiction style.

Now to calculate the lifespan of a black hole that size.  Hopefully it's many millenia and the thing isn't a radiaton hazard to the point where it couldn't be contained by a reasonable housing.

Black holes evaporate, more and more quickly as they shrink, shining brighter and brighter until they *poof*.  You knew that, right?


Monday, August 19, 2013

Time keeps on slippin' slippin'... into the future...

I have created a calendar for my universe.

24 hour day (it's hard to step away from the human biorhythm too much.)
10 day week
40/4 week day month.
400 day/40 week/10 month year.

A galactic standard for trade purposes. Each planet in the galaxy would still have their own year, their own week, etc. Earth might still be on what we have today.

But in the year 3,186 AD (I don't do the BCE/CE feel good silliness), the galaxy adopted the above standard for trade purposes. A common calendar allows traders to show up at the same location at the same time, with less likelihood of conversion mistakes between calendar systems.

Here is what I've come up with:

Month        Days
Jand            1-40
Febbed        41-80
Mapri          81-120
Mai             121-160
Huni           161-200
Juni            201-240
Gusta         241-280
Seppet        281-320
Ors             321-360
Noder         361-400

Day 212 would be 12 Juni, 8428 for example.  The year means nothing yet, I need to do the conversion to 400 day years on 1 Jan 3187, and bring that forward to the current time.  Once I determine the day and year of the start of my first book, it's just a matter of adding days and figuring out the day/month the event takes place.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Red Robin

Red Robin is my favorite chain restaurant. There are other local places I like better, but for a chain, Red Robin is top notch.

Apparently someone got two sacks in some sort of sport, and I get a free tavern double burger as a result. I'm not a sports guy, I actually think that professional sports are a ludicrous waste of our national resources. We spend five times as much on professional sports as we do on scientific research to cure disease I read recently. Which is a serious indication that we have our priorities wrong as a country and a species.

But I'm not going to turn down a free burger from Red Robin. So whatever happened, on whatever nonsensical professional sports field in Denver, thanks for finally having some real world use to me. Whoever you are, and whatever you getting two sacks means, please feel free to repeat it.

I will be eating my free burger, sipping a tasty drink, and celebrating unknown people doing unknown things in unknown places.

Ok, Ok, I'm pretty sure it's football, I'm pretty sure it was the Broncos, but I don't care. The burger I'm about to partake of is more important to me than the entire NFL.

Sack on.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Nature

Nature likes to remind us how powerful she is.  I need to remember this as I write. I think I look for the parts of nature that advance the story, such as the radio conditions near a gas giant. I'm not sure if I can exactly put random weather into a story, but I do think it's something that a writer might consider.

Here is what happened at my house today.


It's quite the show, fortunately nature was just kidding about destroying my Mercedes with ice from the sky.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Underline and Italics

This would be a nightmare to change by hand, so I thought I'd share something I just learned.

http://annlittlewood.blogspot.com/2010/10/ms-word-for-authors-underline-to-italic.html

Now you can change italics to underlines or underlines to italics within your documents with ease.

Don't say I never did you any favors. ;)


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Character

I've been busy writing, and playing a game online called World of Tanks.

Yes, I play online games sometimes, and this one currently has me hooked. 

I just rewrote chapter one, however, in an effort to make my protagonist, Captain Sarah Dayson, more lovable, more easy to identify with, and more real.

So I haven't stepped too far away from the blog, and I haven't stepped away from the book at all.  I find in rewriting I'm cutting away a lot of the cool stuff that I research, as it's often fluff and not story.  So as I get back to writing story, the blog will be the benefactor of my research, or "fluff" if you will. 

I also seem to have a natural affinity for shooting people in armored vehicles.  World of Tanks is basically, when you boil it down, an arena.  Two sides, 15 tanks on a side.  I, my friends, appear to have a bit of tactical ability.  Who knew?  It's really simple as a game, you just aim, shoot, drive, and occasionally die.

Here is my best game so far.  I killed over half the opposing team myself.  I have to confess, that was the high point of my week emotionally.  How sad is that?


Sweet victory, who knew thy name was anti-tank round?

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Dead Ship

Ever have a dream where you're walking through some place and everyone is dead?

Neither have I, but there is a scene of just such a think in my fourth Chapter.  The Yascurra, a small shuttle carrier, is close to a nuclear weapon that detonates.  The radiation is brutal, killing much of the crew where they stand, the rest suffer terrible radiation sickness before death....

Are there any survivors?  You'll have to read my book to find out.  Here is the first part of the chapter.

______________________________________________________________

          Seto informed the captains of the fleet the jump neared termination. “All fleet ships, acknowledge receipt.”

Schein, jump termination in less than ten.”

Hinden copies.”

Palino copies.”

EF2358 acknowledges receipt.”

Amalli, drop before ten.”

Seto waited a moment. “Yascurra, acknowledge drop to realspace.”

Silence.

Yascurra, Stennis, over.”

Hinden is standing by with two shuttles if you need boarding parties for the Yascurra, Stennis.”

“Captain Dayson has a shuttle ready to go here, Hinden, but I’ll pass along your offer to the Captain.” Seto looked questioningly at Sarah.

Sarah “Have them stand by, Lieutenant. We will send our men in first, then get help if it’s needed. We don’t know the conditions over there.”

Hinden, Stennis. Have your shuttle standing by, but first boarding will be one shuttle only, from the Stennis.”

Hinden acknowledges. Marines standing by.”

Seto turned to Sarah in frustration. “The fleet is ready for drop to realspace, Captain, except, of course, the Yascurra.”

“It’s OK, Lieutenant, you’ve done what you can. Check to make sure you’re secure in your station.”

 “It’s frustrating.”

“For us all, Hanali.”

“Maybe the nuke destroyed their communication equipment.” 

“Let’s hope, Lieutenant. But they were close to the bomb. We will do what we can. Speaking of which, Mr. Gilbert, we do have a shuttle ready to go? I want men on board that ship right away.”

“I have four marines on board our command shuttle, Captain. The pilot will dock toward the rear of the hangar deck. The marines will let us know as soon as they can.”

        "Good."

Sarah listened to Corriea fend off an incoming call from medical. The main view screen displayed the face of Commander Thea Jennis, the Chief Medical Officer of Seventh Fleet.

“…I just want you to be aware that we have much better shielding than some of the escorts. They almost certainly suffered horrible radiation exposure when the bomb detonated. Extensive burns, sickness, incapacitation... it’s even possible the Yascurra crew is dead.”

Maybe she’s just trying to prepare me. Either way, debate is pointless. It’s time for facts. “Doctor, we’ll know soon enough. Get to your acceleration couch for the drop to realspace. Quickly. That’s an order.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference on Sept 20-22.  I'll get to pitch my book to an agent, see if I can pick one up.  I believe that will probably be the impetus to polish On the Shores of a Dark Sea off. 

The funny thing is it's all written in my head, but getting it on paper in an orderly fashion is a huge deal.  Organizing half a million characters into something that not only makes sense, but is appealing is quite the task.  Especially for someone like me who is far more visionary than functional. ;) 

I will also get my work critiqued by a couple of editors/agents as well.  I'm not going to say I'm excited about that, because it will probably be painful.  But it will be educational.

I'm going to have the same work critiqued at both sessions, I think, just to see if they come up with the same result.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Oasis System

In Chapter 4 Ensign Eris Dantora reports to Captain Dayson what she finds in the Oasis system as the Seventh Fleet drops out of FTL and approaches the newly discovered star.

Oasis is a K4 orange dwarf, with two inner terrestrials, two large gas giants, a thin asteroid belt, and three more smaller gas giants.  Two "snowballs" (large Kuiper belt objects) orbit farthest out.

So it looks like this:

(_)  Oasis
.    Oasis I
.    Oasis II
O    Oasis III (named Ember by the crew)
O    Oasis IV
:::::::  Asteroid Field
o    Oasis V
o    Oasis VI
o    Oasis VII
.     Oasis VIII  (dwarf planet)
.     Oasis IX  (dwarf planet)

The gas giant Ember winds up having four moons larger than Earth, as Ember itself is 11 times the mass of Jupiter.  My reasoning for this is simple.  The sun, when it ignites, blows the volatile gasses out into the outer solar system.  Since a K4 has a weaker solar wind than a G2 (like our sun), I think the first gas giant will form closer in toward the star.  Not only that, I think since the volatiles will have less outward pressure, that first gas giant will be a doozy.  The second might really be large as well.  The next planet I don't think could form because of the two massive gas giants constantly disturbing that orbit, preventing real accretion.

The next three planets are basically Uranus and Neptune types, cold, distant, made of the leftovers from III and IV.  VIII and IX are just Kuiper Belt objects, just as Pluto, Charon, Xena, Sedna, etc.

Planet IV will have a massive ring system, although that really doesn't come to play in my first book.  It might in later books. 

V, VI, and VII are really not of much interest.  I'll plan on them having moons, maybe some use will come of those at some point.  Gas giants tend to like their moons if our solar system is any example. 

So that is my thinking on the Oasis System.  Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What I've loosely based my FTL drive on

This article is a good one, it covers the fact that NASA is working on a theory by Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre.

NYT FTL article

I believe, one way or another, the universe is ours to move into, make our home, and expand what it means to be human, sentient, and alive.

I just wish I would have been part of that galactic society.  I guess that's why I'm writing sci-fi, because my vision is bigger than my reality.


Wheels... wooden

I write a section in one chapter where one of the prime characters meets a local wagon train.  When I wrote it, the thought occurred to me that there is no metal in my society on Refuge.  The wooden wheels of a wagon, without a rim, would be hammered to splinters in short order.  So what to do?

I started researching the information, of course, and you'd be surprised exactly how little there is on that type of thing on the internet.  I was surprised.  But I did find some pictures of an old Egyptian chariot, and they didn't look like they had metal rims.  They rode those things into war at speed, so the wheels had to stand up to abuse.  But I couldn't tell from the photographs exactly how.

I came up with three solutions, one of which is improbable due to the time consuming nature of it.
  1. Wrap the wheels in stone.  This would involve tedious hand shaping of small stone pieces to be attached to the wheels with pegs.  This seemed ludicrous.
  2. Wrap the wheels in bricks.  Easier to shape, but bricks can be brittle and would likely shatter often on rocks or cobble.
  3. Wrap the wheel in rawhide.  It absorbs impact, it could be quickly cut to fit and attached with wooden pegs.  The ends of the pegs would splay out, holding the hide in place.  Easy, quick, and cheap since animals are common.
I assumed #3 would be used.  Humans are very good at finding the quickest and easiest solutions for most things.  And innovative. For more protection for the wheel, I suppose a combination of #2 and #3 could be used.  The actual wooden wheel would have two protection layers, and the brick would be more durable if layers of thick rawhide were used. 
Is this actually in my book?  No, but I wanted to be ready for that person who said, "You can't have wheels on your moon, there isn't any metal for the rim!"

Oh, yes I can, Mr. Smartypants I haven't met yet.  Oh yes I can.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real life

My family was asked by friends to go the local Renaissance Fair this weekend.  My wife originally wanted to go, I think, but I did not.  I suppose it's sad that I thought, "That's an entire day of writing down the drain!"

But there are other reasons.  I don't like crowds.  That's being kind, I abhor crowds.  Known people are fine, but a crowd of strangers is like taking a Hypertension 101 class.  It will be different if my writing takes off and they're there for a book signing, or something similar.  That's orderly, and people are usually very civilized at book signings.  Festivals?  Not so much.

Money is always an issue in our house, my wife and I are both impulsive individuals, and we have in the past spent money foolishly when we had a surplus of it.  Now that I'm staying at home in an effort to become a writer, money is a lot tighter than it used to be.

I suspect the cash aspect has hammered more than one writer, and we live in a very expensive town.  I wonder what percentage give up their dream to be an author simply to afford groceries?  That will not happen in my case, it's not like we're not making it.  But it's tight, unlike previous years.  I'm constantly reminded (by me) that even if I wanted to attend the Renaissance Fair, it would be a tremendous waste of our limited resources.

I'm spending $400 + hotel costs to attend the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in September.  $400.  I know people who were published and didn't see that much of a return on their first book!  But to get noticed, you have to meet the right people and it should be an eye opening experience.  

Well, this really was sort of stream of consciousness.  But I am feeling a bit guilty for not attending with friends of the family.  Such things, however, must take a seat at the back of the bus.  I have no time for failure, and this book must be published.  Onward.


Nukes, oh my!

In the book a nuke is used.  I needed to nuke a small 3 kilometer wide valley. 

The method is a deuterium-tritium capsule collapsed by a lithium ring with magnetism.  The amount of fuel could be variable, allowing the nuker to set the size of the detonation, I'm thinking.  I'm not sure about this, so I didn't specify that in my writing. 

What I did do was research nuclear bursts, and the areas of effect.

I used a 2 kiloton yield to achieve my goal. 

http://www.nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

You too can nuke the place of your choice, with the yield that you like the most.

Let's hope this never happens.  But it does in my story.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Researching fire

I am researching fire for my warward moon, alone in it's inhabitibility so far above the galactic plane.

Refuge has 1.5 times the pressure of Earth, but only 16% O2 compared to 21% on Earth.  It turns out that with reduced oxygen as a percentage, the reaction (fire) is just as active if you have higher pressure.  So I'm moving forward with the presumption that fire is going to operate on Refuge much like it does on Earth.  There might be some difference to the shape of the flame due to increased gravity and atmospheric pressure affecting the heat column, but I suspect that a fire on Refuge will look remarkably like one here on Earth.

Here is the link to the site I am getting data from.  Yes, it's dummies.com.  Not everything has to be smarties, does it?

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/what-factors-affect-the-speed-of-chemical-reaction.html

This site also speaks briefly about fire and pressure.

http://www.interfire.org/res_file/9213-1.asp

BTW, first draft of Chapter 25 just rolled off the assembly line.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blockage over

Writer's block is history.  I wrote Chapter 21 today, reaching 35,000 words.  The book is probably halfway done as far as story goes, and then there is the editing.... oh, the editing...

It's 3:07am.  I'm going to bed, where I will lay for an hour thinking about Chapter 22.  Then I will doze off for 8 hours, rise to another day, and likely put Chapter 22 down on electronic paper. 

Writing is a bit like I remember running as being.  Yes, I used to run.  A lot.  No more.  But writing is like that.  The more you do it, the more you want to do it.  But if you stop, getting started again can be a pain in the rear.

It's too bad about the editing thing.  If I could actually write a chapter on the first pass that didn't have passive voice, POV shifts, grammatical errors, and the occasional blurb of nonsense, I'd be able to churn out six books a year I think. 

It's not the story telling that is hard.  This book has been completed to some degree in my head for a while now.  It's the getting it on paper in a way that makes sense, a way that is compelling... that's is what's hard. 

My future as a writer depends on me doing what is hard.

Maybe, like running, that will get easier with time as well.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Birds

When I made my art for the surface of Refuge, I added in birds without thinking.  Would birds be practical on a world with 1.16g?  Or would they become, in essence, all just chickens flapping nearly useless wings for a few dozen meters of pretend flying?

I think the saving grace for birds on Refuge would be the denser atmosphere.  1.5 times Earth pressure at sea level.  Why do I think that would be a saving grace?

When a bird flaps its wings, it is pushing against the air to lift a solid object (the bird) into the air.  The effects the bird is trying to overcome include the fluidity of the air, which simply wants to flow around the wing.  Feathers are the way they are so that they create "roughness", or drag, which causes air to stay under the wing long enough to be pushed against.  The force needed to lift a few pounds into the air must be held by the air long enough for the bird to get into the air and climb higher.  That force would be even greater on Refuge. 

A huge amount of the effort the bird expends would be to move the wings fast enough that the lift is created before the air sloshes out from under the wings.  In an atmosphere that is 1.5 times as dense, that force would be significantly less because even as air sloshes out, there is still more air left to push against than there is at the pressure of our atmosphere.  There are a few minuses, such as the bird pushing harder to move the air above out of the way as well.  But the bonus of a thicker atmosphere would, in my amateur opinion, be more than enough to make up for 16% increased weight. 

I'm not going to do the phsyics, oh no.  I'm not about to spend days on all of those variables just so I can have birds in my book.  Instead, I'll just put them in and believe I'm right. ;)  But it's my very strong hunch that birds exist on Refuge as they do on Earth and the physics of it would be perfectly viable.  In fact, birds might have an easier time on Refuge than they do on Earth.  Lift might be far easier to generate.  If anyone cares to prove me wrong, I'd love to see that math. 


Sometimes you want to create....

but writing isn't the answer. 

Today is one of those days, so I amused myself by creating a preliminary book cover and taking the advice of a person who should know and jazzing up the gas giant in the sky.

So, unless some criticism arises that reaches into my heart and it grows many sizes bigger like the Grinch, I think my cover art is done.  Of course if I get a big publisher to accept the contract, this cover art probably all goes out the window anyway.  But it's been fun to make, and seeing that gas giant hovering in the sky... the green sky... has made this feel very real to me.  So it's certainly served a purpose. 

Then cropping the painting and creating a book cover, well, that's just tickling my vanity.  But what a sweet thought it is!  I'm not sure how many authors illustrate their own cover, but if that works out that would be the thrill of a lifetime as well. 

So here is the final painting.  I added in the gulls to let people know that Refuge is a living world, although it's in a strange place.  Interestingly, every gull you see on the painting is the same gull!  I had a hard time finding birds to use from the internet, so I found one gull I liked and I modified him several times.  So I suppose you could call him a clone. 


A perfect day on Refuge!

Here is my self indulgence of a book cover. 


Is that vanity?  I don't know.  But what I can say is that it feels good to see what a book I have written from my own imagination, research, and time spent typing away might look like.  

Hopefully tomorrow the temporary block that is keeping me from typing words instead of painting images will pass.
 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chapter 20

I'm starting Chapter 20 today, in first draft.  I'm not sure why that seems like a landmark, probably that nice round number.  But a landmark is what I've decided it is. 

Chapter 20:  Tentative Title:  Gilbert's rampage


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sound on Refuge

When I created Refuge in my mind, I created a world much larger than Earth.  A world that while much greater in ocean coverage percentage wise, still has three times the land area of Earth.  That's a lot of breathing room!

I'm writing what is currently Chapter 19, and there is an explosion.  I'm telling the chapter from the point of view of someone who is about as far away form the city as you would ride in a shortnight, so no longer than 99 minutes (see earlier blog about the day/night cycle).  At 6kph, that's about 9 kilometers.  So I need to calculate how long the sound from the explosion would take to reach the viewer.

It's not as simply as it sounds.  On Earth the speed of sound is 343mps, roughly, but it will be different on Refuge because the atmosphere is, I've decided arbitrarily, about 1.5 times as dense as Earth.  Why did I decide this?  Mainly because of two reasons.  The first is that Refuge has 1.16x the gravity of Earth, so it is likely to retain more.  But Refuge is also inside of a gas giant moon system.  Not just inside, but one of the inner moons.  The density of stray matter near that planet (it's 11 times Jupiter's mass) is going to be higher and Refuge would have picked up more gasses in the first place.

While searching for my answer to see how much faster/slower sound would travel on Refuge, I came to this page:

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy00/phy00999.htm


I mention this often, but I'm not a physicist.  My eyes, however, are drawn to this formula:

For sound propagating through a gas, the speed is given by

v = sqrt (B/u) where B is the bulk modulus B = - dp/(dV/V).

For air, B = 1E5 N/m^2 (for a gas, B = the pressure) and u = 1.3 kg./m^3 giving v=277 m/s.

I'm fairly sure, since U=density, that I can simply multiply 343mps by 1.5 and roughly arrive at my conclusion.  I don't need precise numbers, since the person I'm writing the POV from is pre-high tech and not wearing a watch.  It's not like she's going to say, "The sound took 18.2 seconds to reach me."

But I do need to know if it's slower, or faster, and give a general idea of the delay.  The reason the result above doesn't reach the correct result is that because sound traveling in air doesn't transfer heat, which increases the bulk modulus (B) in the formula above.  

I am not going to learn about that in detail, but consider that sound on Refuge travels roughly 1.5 x 343mps, or roughly half a kilometer per second.

9 kilometers outside the city, for purposes of my book, Merik hears an explosion 18 seconds (or in her estimation, four breaths) after she sees it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Working on cover art

I've written several chapters over the last few days, although none of them are refined enough to give a sample.

What I've also been working on, and what has kept me up until 4am, is this image of how I think the sky might look on Refuge about 2/3 of the way through second day.  If the concept of second day is confusing, remember that Refuge has a 26+ hour night, followed by roughly a 12 hour first day, then it passes behind the shadow of Ember (seen in the picture in the sky) and has a shortnight as it passes through the shadow.  Then it emerges for second day, approximately 12 hours long before entering longnight once again for 26+ hours.

I give you Refuge, with it's green skies due to an orange dwarf star as a primary light source instead of a yellow dwarf star like ours.  I may still not have the color right, it might be a more blue green.  The nitrogen still would scatter blue most strongly, after all.  But the light would be dimmer, as Oasis (the K4 orange dwarf) would be dimmer than the sun at the distance Refuge is from the star.  So the days would be darker.

Overhead is Ember with its raging internal heat blasting through clouds of sodium and potassium.


It's 4:11am here in Colorado.  I should probably go to bed now.

EDIT:

Ok, here is what I think is the final rendition of this photo.  I'm a bit burnt on writing right now, so next I'll be designing the look of the Michael Stennis.