Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thanks to my writing group

I wanted to specifically mention my writing group, Writer's Write, and how grateful I am to all the help they've given me.  Specifically this Thursday, some of the best of the best showed up for critique that night and pointed out the errors of my ways to me.  And, as they often are, they were right.

Chapter 9 is an introduction of Merik, a powerful Adept who later becomes enemy #1 to the newcomers to Oasis.  Merik is insance, a cross between Glenn Close in fatal attraction and Henry VIII, I suppose.  I wrote the chapter from Merik's point of view, but as someone pointed out to me the person who is crazy doesn't think they are, so they are not the best viewpoint from which to convey that insanity. 

So I will be re-writing Chapter 9 from the viewpoint of Alarin, a young man Merik is training in the art of being an Adept.  That will allow me to convey his awareness of her instability, his desire to moderate her choices, and demonstrate his own insecurities regarding their relationship. 

Alarin will be a much better POV. 

Thanks to everyone who pointed it out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chapters keep rolling

I'm writing my chapters as sparsely as possible, right now.  Minimal detail, although I'm putting almost all of the character conversations in.  I am halfway through Chapter 14 and I just passed 21,685 words for the book. 

There is quite a lot of what I would consider almost cinematic action.  A ship is destroyed spectacularly in Chapter 14, while Sarah is away from the fleet.  Her 1st officer, Commander Franklin Gilbert, makes no mistakes during the event, but she can't help but feel she should have been there.  Instead she was away on a shuttle trip to a farming dome on an asteroid to interview her captive.  Guess who that is?

The loss of a ship poses a real threat to the survival of her crews.  How will she respond to the event?

I know!  I know!  But I want you to buy my book, so I can't reveal all of my secrets. 

While I'm writing this, I frequently think about how the scene would unfold on the big screen.  Who would play the part of Captain Dayson?

I'm rooting for Cate Blanchett.  Does she do science fiction?  Kate Winslet is my second choice.  Amy Adams? 

haha.... I'm getting ahead of myself.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013


What are some good space opera/hard sci-fi books you've read lately? 

I picked up Firestar in hardback at a garage sale for a dollar.  I'll post up later what I think.

I usually read the first few chapters to decide if I'm hooked or not. 

Recent stuff I've read is Building Harlequin's Moon by Larry Niven/Brenda Cooper, Dayworld (a re-read) by Phillip Jose Farmer, and Gravity Dreams by L. E. Modesitt. 

All good reads. 

That's it for a weekend post, I'm off to a BBQ with friends.  It's probably going to be hot.  Bleh.  :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Michael Stennis

I'm going to give a bunch of information I've dreamed up about Sarah Dayson's Seventh Fleet.  It doesn't matter, doesn't change the book too much, but it does give me something that I can measure against when I write.  Oh, the Stennis lost a shuttle?  They have one less now, better mark that.  It might come into play in book 3.  Hard to say.  By working out the details of the fleet, I'm creating not only their limits, but their assets.

Here is what I've worked out so far.

The Michael Stennis is an Alliance heavy battlecruiser.  There are larger ships in the Alliance fleet, but not many.  It is a "jump ship", meaning it houses a jump drive that allows it and nearby ships to travel FTL.  When the Stennis jumps, it takes everything within a 25 kilometer bubble with it.  It is the responsibility of the autopilot systems on board the fleet vessels to station keep at assigned ranges from the jump ship.  If a ship leaves the bubble, it is strung out over billions of miles as some of the ship is still FTL and some is returning to normal space.

A typical jump takes anywhere from 4 to 60 days, depending on how far the jump is.  The singularity onboard the Stennis  that warps space around the fleet is permanent, magnetic forces control the spin and therefore the warping of space around the singularity.  This condenses space in front of the fleet, and stretches it behind.  Is there real life physics around this?  Not really, other than the basic concept of stretching and compressing space.  It is based loosely on Alcubierre’s "Warp Drive"

This is where NASA believes warp drive technology currents sits:

And this is how NASA thinks we might someday achieve FTL travel.

My concept for giving the Stennis the super jump is that there are huge magnetic fields created by a nuclear explosion.  The explosion just as the ship jumps basically hypercharges the singularity onboard the ship.  The fleet is in warp longer than anyone ever has been before, and travels faster and farther than anyone ever has before in a single jump.

The Stennis is a warship, so it (or the fleet with it) is equipped with all the materials it might need to travel long distances, stay on station for a long duration, explore, perform electronic warfare, fabricate their own replacement parts, function as a survey base, a space station, a hospital ship, etc.  The ship is a jump ship, so it's outfitted to serve as many missions as possible.  When it sustains battle damage, it is often capable of repairing itself including fabrication of advanced electronics and structural systems.  This repair capacity is often salvation for a fleet in wartime conditions. 

Keeping in mind that it is the space around the ship that changes, and not the ship itself during FTL, and it should be apparent that the size and mass of the Stennis is irrelevant to FTL jumps.  Everything in the bubble goes, so there isn't a concern for size or mass as long as it fits.  The same cannot be said for in-system movements.  The Stennis uses fusion engines to move within a solar system, and as you can imagine that's quite fuel intensive.  There is the fuel for the fusion stream, and also the reaction mass injected into that stream like an afterburner on a jet.  So the mass of fuel needed for the ship is massive.  The fuel source is hydrogen, generally scooped from gas giants.  Hydrogen 3 is diverted for use in the fusion reactors, and the rest of the hydrogen is compressed into a superdense state for use as reaction mass.

The stats:

Michael Stennis:  Alliance Shikiru class battlecruiser

Length:        942 meters
Diameter:    117 meters, 2.5 kilometers with habitation ring extended, 1 kilometer with the radiators
                    extended post jump.
Crew:           860  (at the time of arrival at Refuge 545 crew remain alive, 311 male, 234 female)
Armament:  160 electro-railguns, each capable of accelerating a .25kg ball of steel to 20kps.
                    12 unpowered 8 megaton nuclear bombs.
                    23 ARC missiles with 150 kiloton warheads
                    117 tactical warheads of various sizes, shuttle loads.
Stores:         1 years of food and water leaving port.  12 months arriving at Refuge.  (resupplied from
Shuttles:      18 transport shuttles  (6 atmosphere/landing capable)
                    6 combat insertion shuttles (all atmosphere/landing capable)
Additional resources:  80 combat marines  (47 female, 33 male)

EF2358:  Alliance Hobar class escort frigate

Length:        68 meters
Diameter:    11 meters
Crew:          37  (at time of arrival at Refuge, 22.  7 female, 15 male, 15 crew transferred to Yascurra)
Armament:  32 electro-rail guns, .1kg steel ammo.
Stores:         6 months.  Dependent on fleet freighter and jump ship for re-supply
Shuttles:      1 transport shuttle, non-atmosphere
Additional resources:  None

Yascurra:  Alliance Sabre class escort carrier

Length:        184 meters
Diameter:    28 meters
Crew:          104 plus 48 shuttle crew.   All killed by radiation leaving Hamor by nuke that
                    knocked the fleet off course
Armament:  None ship based, 82 10-50 kiloton nuclear direct fire missiles for the shuttles.
                    12 shuttles with single electro-railgun .1kg ammo
Stores:         6 months, dependent on fleet resupply
Shuttles:      12 fighters, with short range jump drives.  Each carries one rail gun and up to two
                    12 troop combat shuttles, all atmosphere/landing capable
                    4 transport shuttles, 2 atmosphere/landing capable
Additional resources:  48 marines (killed by radiation) and provisions for extended deployment of combat troops.  Personal weapons, armor, and several armored and unarmored ground vehicles.

Amalli:  Alliance Amalli class electronic warfare frigate

Length:        48 meters
Diameter:    7 meters
Crew:          12 (6 at time of arrival at Refuge, 6 dead from radiation)
Armament:  None, ship is fully outfitted for electronic warfare, ECM and ECCM, although much
                    equipment is damaged from EMP at the Hamor battle.
Stores:         6 months, dependent on fleet resupply
Shuttles:      None, crew is transferred via fleet shuttles
Additional Resources:  None

Palino:  Alliance Condor class fleet supply freighter

Length:        247 meters
Diameter:    62 meters at midsection
Crew:          41 (20 at arrival to Refuge, 21 transferred to Yascurra)
Armament:  None
Stores:         40 months of fleet stores left out of initial 6 years.
Shuttles:      4 transport shuttles (non-atmosphere)
Additional Resources:  Stored supplies, food, water, armaments, railgun ammo, raw materials, clothing, medical supplies, biological supplies, tools, shuttle spares, electronic spares, etc.  All undamaged at Hamor.

So 5 ships have reached Refuge.  The only supplies they have are what they have with them, and if they can potentially resupply from the local population.  Their adaptation to their situation is part of what makes the story.   What do you do if marooned with limited supplies and complex and potentially vulnerable equipment?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Haves and have nots

Society on Refuge is feudal, with the haves and have nots you'd expect in such a society.  The planet is huge and the population density low, so it doesn't have the population pressures that medieval Europe had prior to the Black Death.  But it does have people living in servitude to overlords.

The Adepts are the nobility.  They don't suppress the people with armies, although they do have small military forces.  They control the people with their psychic powers.  I'm not going to explain why they have these powers on the blog, but they've selectively bred themselves and pulled promising children from the common population for 100 centuries to create the powerful Adepts that exist in the story.  The Adepts breed themselves like we breed dogs, breeding to amplify certain traits and culling those that do not make the standard. After all this time, the most powerful Adepts are unbelievably powerful.

Abilities due to Adept psychic powers:
  1. They cannot violate any existing physical laws or currently observed universal behaviors.
  2. Telepathy exists, and is instant communication without respect to light speed.  Einstein would call it spooky action at a distance.  Look it up.  It's interesting stuff.
  3. If momentums change, heat is created.  This heat is information that the Adepts can transfer from one set of atoms to another, just as long as energy is neither created nor lost.  For example, an Adept hurling a rock into orbit would have to acquire that energy somewhere.  He might pull so much heat from a nearby lake that it freezes solid hundreds of feet deep.  
  4. The Adept can kill with heat or removal thereof, by simply boiling an enemy or freezing them.  Again, this involves transferrring that heat information somewhere. 
  5. Adepts can read minds, mainly by learning what neurological firing patterns mean.  They will have difficulty reading the minds of those not from Refuge.
  6. They can, on occasion, see a short distance into the future.  This is basically a perception across the multiverse to see the myriad of possible outcomes.  It is then up to the Adept to solidify as real the one the Adept prefers.
  7. They can see remote locations at times by intercepting the photonic information transferred to matter at a location they can see.  Basically a form of over the horizon backscatter radar but psychic.  Look that up too. ;)  This would be similar to remote viewing.
Limits to their psychic powers:

  1. They cannot perform mind control other than by terror methods.  They cannot manipulate the neural patterns of a mind fine enough to control them.  They can, however, stimulate certain nerve systems to simulate pain, pleasure, etc.
  2. They cannot teleport themselves or anything else.  They do not have control of matter to the degree that they can move it from one place to another, they can only transfer the information state of matter from one set of atoms to another.  An object contains far too much information to move it intact from one location to another.
  3. The Adept cannot protect themselves from physical damage (harden their bodies), perform 'magical' healing of any kind, or raise the dead.  
  4. They cannot see auras, tell fortunes,  read patterns (cards, bones, tea leaves), speak to the dead, dowse water, consort with demons (although their religion has demons in it), manipulate luck, access teaching they haven't themselves learned, discern omens, or wish their dirty clothes clean.
The average Joe on Refuge is just a poor schmuck who grubs in the dirt for a living or works a trade.  Small villages are scattered along paths or roads easily reached by the forces of the Adepts (or the Adepts themselves) so that the population can be controlled.  The villages have a zone around them that they are allowed to farm or graze.  Ostensibly the villagers own their animals and crops, but they pay fees and taxes too the Adepts political structure.

The common man realizes they are subject to the whims of the Adepts, they pay their taxes, turn over thier children, and comply with the wishes of their overlords.  After all, that's how it's always been from their point of view.

The religion of Refuge is basically sky worship, they believe each object that is normally in their sky is a God.  Since Refuge is WAY above the galactic plane, the night sky is dark except for the planets within the Oasis (the name I have now assigned to the K4 orange dwarf star powering this solar system) star system and of course Oasis itself.

The locals refer to Oasis as Em' Faroo (The God Faroo), the planet Hades or Ember (I haven't decided on a name for it as Em' Jalai.  The moons of Em' Jalai don't deserve such formal titles as they are children of Em' Faroo and Em' Jalai.  They are simply called by name.  Fandama is a moon closer in orbit to Hades than Refuge is, and is much like Venus.  It glows a beautiful yellow in the night sky of Refuge, and is regarded as the Goddess of Beauty.  The next largest moon in the Hades system from the point of view of Refuge's surface is Yoro.  Yoro is barren with a thin atmosphere, so varies from white to gray in color.  Yoro is considered to be Fandama's suitor, and although he chases her eternally he never catches her.  Yoro is one orbit out from Refuge, so unlike Fandama he sometimes disappears below the horizon so he can try to sneak up on Fandama yet again.  Fandama, in her desire to be seen as much as possible, never sinks as low as the horizon line because she orbits inside the orbit of Refuge.  The only time she disappears completely from view is when she is close to the same position in the sky as Em' Faroo.  The locals believe when they die they are taken to the sky to live with the Gods, and that those who are found unworthy of immortality due to living an unworthy mortal life are cast down as Burning Souls.  These are basically meteors burning up in the atmosphere.  Some locals believe that when a meteor survives to reach the ground (which happens quite often in the moon system of Hades) that the soul is either reborn or enters the world as an unbodied demon to bring bad things to the lives of mortals.

I have the potential of adding more mythology into the world if I need too, but for now this will do to illustrate the religious state of the locals.  This is in opposition to most of the outsiders (although a few are religious) who are mostly atheists.

Part of the evolution of the story will be the concepts of religion, fate, and free will as the three books progress.  Eislen will question his religions, Sarah will question her previous certainty that nothing divine exists, and both will arrive in a different place than they started.

Remember, this blog is religion free in the sense that I won't discuss modern religion.  But the religion of the locals on Refuge is open game.  Feel free to make suggestions and help me develop their ethical beliefs and traditions.

I have very rough first drafts of Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 underway.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rolling along....

Today was a great day for writing, other than the thunderstorms that rolled through about 2pm.  It rained like a bucket was pouring on my house.  In Colorado that's a very good thing.

I finished Chapter 7, turned Chapter 8 from a concept into something that will probably be even better with the next edit, wrote a short Chapter 9, and started on Chapter 10.  Wow!  I've never been that productive, but a good day shouldn't go to waste.

Chapter 7 takes Eislen (a local on Refuge) to meet the outsiders for the first time, at least indirectly.  It doesn't go well.

Chapter 8 explains how Eislen comes to be with the outsiders.

Chapter 9 introduces two new characters, Merik the Adept and Alarin her apprentice.  Merik doesn't do anything particularly evil in the chapter, and indeed she's not evil for the sake of being evil.  But you get a distinct feel for her character, and it's not warm and cuddly.

Chapter 10 puts Sarah Dayson and Eislen face to face for the first time.  I've just started it, but the concept is there.  The chapter is told from the point of view of Eislen, not Sarah, so there is a lot of confusion on his part.

Here is a sample of Merik, and her interaction with Alarin as she first notices the alien ships in the sky over Nula Armana, which is the native tongue for New Home.  Once the outsiders get that translated, that should tell them something.


            Alarin flinched and small beads of sweat formed on his forehead as his master forced pain into his mind. He dropped to his knees as he fought furiously to use the gift to seal his mind from her.  He struggled to force her out even as the pain rose in intensity.

            Merik finally let him go.  “I do not wish to sense your every emotion.  Control yourself.”

            Alarin rose from the floor and wiped the sweat from his forehead.  “I will, master.”

            “Oh, Alarin, you’re only subject to my cruel whim.  This sky demon has me concerned.  Only the master Adepts can see it, at least so far, but what if it keeps growing until it consumes us all?”

            “The Gods will do as the Gods will do, master.  You are the greatest of Adepts, yet even you possess but a shadow of the power of the Gods.”

            She laughed.  “And you feel brave for reminding me of that.”  She sipped her wine and thought about what he'd said.  “But it has been kind of them to give me a taste of that power, has it not?"

            Merik took in his thoughts. Kind to whom? Alarin nearly panicked as he felt the thought, but Merik didn’t care. She could read him completely, but he didn’t need to know that. She enjoyed his fear, and his sense of satisfaction when he thought he was keeping something from her.


Keep in mind that Merik and Alarin come from a society that is about as technologically advanced as Medieval Europe, and does not have any real access to metal other than copper and that is as rare as silver on Earth. Copper is insufficient for making much more than arrow heads and jewelry. There is a bit of iron in the crust, but it's as rare as copper and the inhabitants of Refuge simply have not unlocked the ability to smelt iron from what very small bit of ore there is. 

Earth is saturated with iron in our crust by comparison. We can thank the ancient impact with Thea that generated the moon and dispersed heavier metals through our crust.  No such impact occurred on Refuge, so the metals are in the core and they are less frequent to begin with.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Class IV gas giants

Refuge, the moon that Sarah Dayson finds and determines is the future for her fleet crew, is a living breathing world.  Much larger than Earth, it's less dense and therefore the gravity isn't too out of control.  1.16G is what the math tells me.

Today I took the liberty of downloading a free wallpaper and modifying it with ArtRage Pro to depict what I think the sky might look like on Refuge.  The large planet in the sky is tentatively called Hades by Sarah's crew, although I might yet change that name.  It seems a bit cliche, but it does fit the planet 100%.  Hades is a Class IV gas giant, over 11 Jupiter (Jovian) masses, and still retains so much heat from its original formation that it glows in ruddy red light on the dark side.  I can imagine this baleful red light casting shadows on the lands of Refuge when Refuge is behind Hades and not lit by sunlight.  Hades is about 190,000 miles in diameters, which means it is about 1/5th the diameter of our sun, Sol.  Refuge is very close to Hades, about 1.1 million kilometers, so the heat from the planet plays a part in keeping the moon warm enough for life.

Class IV gas giants are very dark.  Because of the high temperature of a class IV gas giant, complex molecules are rare.  Instead of quantities of methane and other hydrocarbons in the atmosphere like Jupiter has, the predominant carbon molecule is carbon monoxide.  Many metals are at temperature that make them gaseous in the core, only to condense out in the upper clouds and rain down as liquid metal rain.  In a class IV gas giant that is probably sodium, potassium, and cloud decks of gaseous iron and other metals deeper inside the planet.  The upper cloud decks would be alkali metals, which would make the world dark like charcoal because these metals absord most light.  They'd reflect just 3% of the light that hits the planet.  The apparent surface temperature would be between 1,100 degrees Farenheit and 2,000 degrees Farenheit.

That's hot.  Hot enough to warm a close moon nicely, I'd think.

The other object in the sky of my creation below is the moon just inside Refuge's orbit, tentatively called Fandama, the local goddess of beauty.  Since Refuge is tidally locked to Hades, the planet is always in the same place in the sky.  The side of Refuge facing away from Hades would be considerably colder than the side facing the gas giant.  With a day/night cycle of 2.5 days (the time it takes for Refuge to orbit Hades) the side of the moon away from Hades would have time to get quite cold in the 30 hours or so of darkness that would come each night.  On the side facing Hades, there would be two days and two nights when Refuge passed through Hades's shadow, and only one when the tilt of Refuge's orbit kept it above or below that shadow.  I intend to do all the math on this at some point and let you know just how that day night cycle would work, because it's integral to the societal development of the natives. 

This is my first created visual image of my world and the universe that Sarah Dayson lives in.  I hope you enjoy what streams from my imagination both visual and written.  Click the image to enlarge it.

Hades warms the skies of Refuge, creating updrafts and rising storms.  Fandama graces the sky with her beauty. 
There would, of course, be no individual stars in the sky of Refuge other than their sun.  There would just be a washed out haze where the Milky Way glowed in the distance, along with the other moons of Hades and the other planets of the star Hades orbits.

I can imagine Fandama being a world not unlike Venus, overheated from being 600,000 kilometers from Hades.  Life on a world such as Refuge would be interesting, with the varied day/night cycles and the constant dance of Hades and the moons in the sky.  Days might get quite warm, nights quite cold.  But a thick atmosphere and a large oceanic mass allow the moon to moderate the extremes and distribute the heat differentials to create a reasonable climate for life.

Welcome to Refuge. 

The joys of owning an old car

I drive a 1989 Mercedes 560sl.  It is probably the best car I've ever owned, and I've owned a LOT of cars.  I'm a bit of a car junkie.  This car, however, is 24 years old, has 95,000 miles, and runs like a top.  The engine runs so smoothly you'd think it just came from the factory.

Mercedes makes excellent cars.

With age, however, comes issue.  I'm a big guy (read this as a gentle expression for fat guy) and put a lot of wear on the seat.  It shows.  Everything has some discoloration from sun bleaching, the paint is sketchy in a few places, and there are rust stains in the trunk carpet because the trunk gasket leaks and I left something metal in there.  I'm a genius!  D'oh!

The latest good news is that it's time to get the timing chain and the timing chain guides replaced.  That's not really good news for my wallet, but it does remind me that my car is of great value to me and I need to take care of it for it to take care of me.

$1200 + tax:  It needs the timing chain replaced.
$1200 + tax:  It needs a new softtop.
$2,000 + tax:  It needs a few dings fixed and repainted.
$200:  I need to build a speaker platform for the back seat.  I installed an Alpine radio in the car that kicks butt, but the speakers are just sitting in the back.  They like to move around.  That's bad.

Throw in some cash for replacing a few chrome items here and there (headlight rings, trunk trim, etc) and the fact that every oil change is $50-60 if I do it myself and $100 if I have it done, you can see that driving an old car adds up in price.  At least I don't have a car payment for the Mercedes.

The best thing about the car, however, is driving it in summer with the top down.  Jake (my dog) and I frequently just jump in the car and drive around Colorado Springs.  Last week two different women took pictures of him sitting in the passenger seat, resting his head on the head rest, and just chilling.  I assume it was him, because he's MUCH prettier than I am.

Let me introduce you to one of the loves of my life.  My 1989 Mercedes 560sl.  Ain't she a beaut?  That's my daughter in the second photo.... trust me, she's a beauty too.  Sadly, all the boys seem to notice her while all the women notice my dog. 

This is what it looked like in Florida when I bought it.  It's now in Colorado, of course.  Probably better for the long run health of the vehicle body. 
24 year old car, 14 year old daughter.  She says she gets the car when I die.  I told her I would outlive her. 

Oh, and last but not least, here is the handsome fellow that is probably on flickr, facebook, imagr, etc.

There I was, driving in the convertible with that man who gives me treats, and women just kept bugging me!  It's like they've never seen a dog before
Stop stealing my soul with that magic box!
Did you say bacon flavored Milkbones?

Chapter 8 will be forthcoming this evening, after a delicious dinner out with my lovely bride. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fire! Fire! Fire!

I live in a very safe area of the nation.  No tornadoes to speak of, no hurricanes, no earthquakes, no locust plagues.  Low crime, no nuclear plants nearby to melt down, no floods, no zombies (so far). 

What we do seem to have in large amounts are fires.  Either from lightning strikes, which are unpreventable, or from morons or malicious arsonists who are sadly also unpreventable. 

If you go out into my front yard, you will see large smoke plumes to the north and the south.  The Royal Gorge fire is in Pueblo to the south, and the Black Forest fire is eating residences to the north.  I want to express my sympathy for everyone who is affected by the fires, and to observe that it doesn't matter where you live, there is always something local that will remind you of the fragility of life and our control of nature. 

I will probably be limited in my writing this week, although I am going to try to get Chapter 8 on the books if I can.  I have resolved to get a rough draft of two chapters a week completed.  Monday was Chapter 7, and it turned out well.  Maybe Chapter 8 today or tomorrow?

As a pantser, I have no idea how many chapters I'll eventually wind up with, so at two a week I could actually have the book written in a few months... maybe three.

I don't think book one of the three I am planning on is going to be very short.  I can see it being quite long, in fact, so I hope that I won't have to cut it to pieces in order to be published.

Everyone be safe, and remember to keep your fires under control.   Have water nearby to put them out.  I was just told that 80 homes have been lost in Black Forest due to the fire up there.  It would be very sad if those families are now homeless because someone failed to exercise common sense.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I have learned a LOT from my writing group.  One of the things I've learned is that there are two types of writers, Pantsers and Plotters.  A plotter writes outlines, a synopsis for each chapter, character outlines, scene outlines, etc.  A pantser is someone who sits down at a blank page and writes, not knowing what is really going to come out.

I'm a pantser.  I just wrote Chapter 7, and I wasn't sure what was going to happen.  Chapter 7 is about Eislen, a local on Refuge who is encountering advanced technology for the first time.  Let's just say it doesn't really go all that well for him, which was not my intention when I started writing.  But now that I wrote the chapter, I see that how it went is a much better way of integrating my local character into the story.

I like being a pantser, (not to be confused with panzer or panther) because it allows me to enjoy the unfolding of the story as much as I hope you will.  Let's just say that after I wrote chapter 7 I was sitting here with giddy excitement saying, "Holy crap that's awesome!".  Don't get me wrong, I know the writing isn't awesome yet, that will take some editing.  But the story?  Fricking great, and I don't even know where it came from.  How sad is that?

Write.  BOOM!  Fantastic twist that solves all of the problems integrating the character into the story.  Pure magic.  I am probably 80% pantser at least, 20% plotter at most.  I have three books outlined very vaguely in my head for this story line.  I do write down ship stats, I blog this blog, and I do develop my characters more out of the story so I feel I know who they are.  But I don't outline my chapters, I just have a very vague outline of the book itself, chapter by chapter.  That changes frequently, because I often realize that I need to write a chapter I wasn't planning on.

If you've never sat down with just a concept and wrote a story start to finish from that, give it a try.  You might be surprised at the creativity that comes out.

I'm off to write chapter 8 while the juices are flowing.  When one is excited about what comes next would seem to be an excellent time to write.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sarah Dayson

Sarah Dayson is a Captain.  Not just a Captain, but a fleet commander in the Alliance Navy, year 13,432 AD.  She is a result of wartime promotions. 

The Alliance Fleet is currently being devastated by an enemy known as the Hive.  I'm not going to go into detail about what the Hive is, but with a name like that you might make a few assumptions.  One is that the enemy is a single mind.   The other is that the enemy are a race of alien bugs.  One of those assumptions is wrong, and one is right.  If you read my other blog posts, you might know which.

The Hive has a lot of ships, they are effective on the battlefield because losses are irrelevant to them.  They simply attack in numbers.  Because of this the Alliance fleets have been devastated with a high rate of attrition.  That includes both the loss of lives and ships.

Due to personal competence and luck, Sarah has been promoted beyond her years.  She's 38 years old and the survivor of several losing battles with the Hive.  During those battles she demonstrated the ability to lead and survive in harsh battle conditions.  Each success resulted in an increase in rank until she reached her current position, the Captain of the Michael Stennis, a front line heavy battlecruiser.  The Stennis is the primary FTL capable ship in the Alliance 7th Fleet, and the Captain of the Stennis is also the fleet commander. 

Sarah has a knack for fighting until the last possible moment, then retreating and saving her vessel for repair and return to the fight.  That has endeared her to the Alliance, which cannot produce ships fast enough for the war. 

Sarah is the daughter of an important Alliance world, Saltanni.  Saltanni is an industrialized world with large ship building facilities.  The Alliance protects it at all costs and secures complete cooperation from the citizens of Saltanni by integrating them heavily into the military.  Sarah is a benefactor of that integration. 

Sarah is unmarried, has no children, has one fish in her cabin.  She is heterosexual, atheist, and apolitical.  She is extremely professional most of the time, although she will relax with her bridge crew and other officers.  She is extremely protective toward her crew, and sees to their comforts and morale when they are not in battle.  In return, she expects them to serve valiantly when duty calls. 

Sarah arrives with her fleet at Refuge with the fleet heavily damaged from battle, her crew demoralized, and more dead than she's ever had from battle.  Her challenge is to keep her crew focused on survival, repair her fleet enough that the ships are reliable homes, and to explore the unexpected find that is Refuge.  Up to this point in her career she's been 90% warrior and 10% diplomat.  Now she's going to need peak skills in both to integrate with the natives and fight new enemies. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Manual labor/Intellectual labor

I'm discovering as I get older that you can't just simply sit at a desk writing, then expect to do something physical one day a month.  Not if you want to be able to continue to do physical things, anyway. 

This week I built a chicken coop.  This involved hefting the wood, the wire, the shingles, and putting it all together.  Then I moved the entire coop into the backyard, which basically involved strapping a rope to the thing and playing sled dog.  Aging knees rebelled mightily.

What I'm figuring out is that if you want to be able to do those things, you need to regularly do those things.  Walk.  ATV.  Rearrange the furniture.  Clean the garage.  Chop wood.  Build something.  If you wait too long between physical activity, it's just that much more stressful on your body when you get to it. 

I find, as I sit here sore at my desk, there is a lot of regret associated with aging.  When you're young you rationalize your lack of attention to your diet or exercise, then as you age it catches up with you.  I have done olympiad style exercise to keep my mind in the shape it should be.  If only I'd been so wise to keep my body in shape.

Still, I often reflect that I'm a lot healthier than others my age.  I feel for them.  If being me hurts like this after manual labor, I'd certainly hate to be in worse condition.

Later today or next week I'll discuss Sarah Dayson, the main character in my book.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Here we go again!

I have cold fusion feet.  But this particular type of fusion isn't hydrogen/hydrogen, it's nickel/hydrogen to copper.  I've not personally heard of this before, so my opinion is out until it's either debunked as other cold fusion has pretty much been or it's verified by peer reviewed papers and set on the path to mass production for you and me. 

It might be time to invest a few $$ in nickel mining stocks.

If this is true, I'm going to be happy to get my 1,000 horse power electric car, but very sad that I didn't get it earlier in life.

Regardless, this is my web snippet to share today, and I hope that I'm not the bearer of false hopes.

Does it appear to anyone else that scientific advancement has really skyrocketed lately?  There have been so many huge discoveries in a lot of fields. 

It's an exciting time to be alive.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pseudo Science

I had a lady try to sell me on a 'cure all' today.  It had a name that started with a "T", but it wasn't long into her spiel before she told me that this magic "T" cure all would cleanse the toxins from the chemtrails from my body.  I didn't know quite what to do, because laughing would be improper in the setting I was in.  So I just looked at the floor and fled when I had the chance.  When someone spouts pseudo science at me, I have no idea what to do.  I'm sure I'm not the first person who might try to educate them, and I'm pretty sure if you believe in chemtrails that you're not about to abandon your conspiratorial thinking on the matter.  Far be it from me to even try to stop that runaway train.  So I just looked away and fled.  Hopefully I won't get chemtrailed tomorrow and need what she was selling.

The chicken coop is 1/2 built, my kids and I literally built it without a plan.  We put two seven foot 2x4s on the floor and started construction.  It's been a fantastic time!  We have a big coop, although we're only going to have two chickens.  We probably should have one much smaller, but if I were a chicken I'd want a mansion if I could get one.  Ours apparently will get one.  Tomorrow another trip to Lowe's, which is what happens when you decide to toss your preconceived plans aside and start winging (haha) it.  You run out of stuff, because impromptu construction always results in over engineering or extra waste. 

It's been a very full day, when I started my Mercedes this morning it when <gronk> for a moment when it started up.  Oh noes!  I dragged out the iPad and did my research.  Timing chain guide.  Gah!  You need to replace the timing chain on the Mercedes at 100K, and I have 95K on mine, so I guess I'm an early bloomer.  I did get a lot of references to a reliable and reasonable Mercedes mechanic in Colorado Springs, so if you need one let me know.  I need the head gaskets replaced too, as apparently the driver side exhaust manifold tends to bake the rear of the driver side head gasket, making it leak oil onto the crossover pipe for the exhaust system.  That's stinky, trust me.  When you have a 25 year old car, you can expect such things.  Especially one as complex as a Mercedes. 

As I understand it, that's going to set me back $2K.  /sigh.  But once it's done, I should get another 100K out of the car.  At least as long as I don't put my foot to the floor as much as I like to do. 

No writing today.  I did think a lot about the relationship of technologically advanced societies to the non-technological societies, and that gave me some fodder for when I do write.  Tomorrow is more chicken coop, and Thursday we pick up the chicks, so I expect that it will be Friday this week before any actual writing is done.  But the brain does continue to process the concept, the plot, and the characters.  I either have to count this week as a vacation week or count that mental processing as work time.

Game of Thrones and Red Star Chickens

Those of you who watch Game of Thrones, are you as upset as I am about the events of this last installment?  Outrageous.  The season finale better be something amazing.

My daughters and I are building a chicken coop today.  Something I haven't mentioned yet is that I homeschool my kids, I feel public schools are too regimented for these bright young minds.  We school all year, although in the Summer we do take a lot of extra days off.  Today, however, is shop day.

My girls are 7, 9, and 14.  Today they'll be cutting lumber, measuring, assembling, and painting.  Once that's done, research has shown us that two or three Red Star chickens will provide all of our egg needs while providing an excellent example of natural food sources for my kids.  Chickens, food in, eggs out.  We also have ants in our backyard, a situation I expect to change once the chickens are allowed to roam within the fenced area.  Ants = chicken treats.

This probably seems like a strange post for a writers blog, but I think one of the lessons I've learned in my life is that wide and varied interests translate into wide and varied experience which equals a wide and varied mental database from which to draw when writing is the goal.

Experience life.  Embrace it.

I'm off to build a chicken coop.  Not a kit, mind you, but a coop of our own design made from lumber bought from Lowes.  Maybe I'll post pictures later.

Everyone enjoy the day.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Going to a geek party

It's the weekend, but I thought I'd toss on a comment about going to a geek party.