New Looks

It’s that time of year when I start to feel the need to change the look of my blog. Must be all that time off during the holidays. Anyway, we’re going black again and in the process, cleaning up some things. I’m not happy with the header image yet, so expect more change to happen there. But otherwise, the current dark theme is working for me.

My wife got a Chromebook update ahead of Christmas, and I used it last week for a writing sprint. It worked out great, so I can safely recommend the HP 2-in-1 12.3 Inch Touch-Screen for writing books in Google Docs and StoryShop.

My own laptop replacement won’t get to me until next month, so stay tuned for that report.

I’m currently cleaning up my Mystery novel and a stand alone SF novel so that I can start querying agents at the first of the year. I know, WTF? Well, we can’t stay Indy only forever, now can we? Anyway, both of these novels are pretty awesome and I feel my chances of finding representation are much improved after writing and selling fiction for the better part of a decade.

Stay tuned next year to hear how that goes.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on the Destroyer first draft. I’d like to have that novella to readers in late Spring of next year. Then I’m bound and determined to tackle XiniX, the next Star Saga novel.

In case things get crazy in December, have a great holiday season and I’ll catch you next year!

 

Oh, Hello Blog!

I’ve been away from this blog for a long spat of time. I really can’t remember when I stopped posting. Checks logs. Oh, last time I posted was on my birthday back in September. Well, high time I posted again, or the internet might revoke my domain or something.

I finished writing my latest mystery novel and it’s out to Beta Readers at the moment. So far they are loving it and I will soon be cleaning up the manuscript and sending it off to my editor. I’m not sure that I will self publish this one. I have totally failed to succeed with the first mystery, Null Pointer. So I’ve started taking it out of online stores. If you still want it, get it ASAP. I’m thinking come Christmas, it will be gone. The reason I’m taking it down is that I plan on sending the second mystery to an agent. It’s the second book of a six book series, so I’m hoping to sell it as a series. Anyway, sometime early next year I’ll be sending it to agents who work with mysteries and sci-fi.

Because, I also have a stand alone sci-fi novel that is nearly ready to be edited too. If I can snag an agent for the mystery, I’m hoping they will at least consider the sci-fi manuscript. Anyway, all that will be going on in the next few months behind the scenes. Meanwhile, I have a couple of series that I need to get back to.

First up is book 4 of the Starship Series which will be called Destroyer, Declo Demons. Follow Captain Armon Vance and his Destroyer crew into a seven planet star system in search of Trin Lestor. This is the first of the middle trilogy books and I hope to have it out in the Spring. The other book that I will write next year is Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX. I know, I’ve been talking about that one for a while. 2020 will be the year it gets written. Unless of course I sell a mystery series and suddenly have to write four more Joshua Jones novels. ;-)

I tried to make the writing of the Destroyer novella live on Google Docs, but I didn’t get the impression anyone cared. So I’ve taken it off line and loaded it into StoryShop. Not sure if I’ll like writing in this on-line IDE, but I’ll give it a go with that book. I do like the casting ability of this tool which lets you create character bios and pictures of your characters.

As for me personally, Fall is here and I’m still out there running three times a week and lifting in my garage and eating as best as I can. So my health is good physically. My mental health is being treated with books and less and less TV News. It’s the only way I can make it through this long National Nightmare. I’ve read far more books this year, than I have in a long time. Unfortunately, most of them are non-fiction books about politics and science. But the political books are nearly done and the science books will take over. In between them, I’m hoping to get back into more fiction. Both SF and mystery.

My trusty System76 laptop is still going strong, but will soon be retired from book writing. I’m passing it down to my son who will use it to write programs and web applications. Meanwhile, my primary writing laptop will be an HP Spectre x360. It just won’t run a crap OS. It will be running stock Ubuntu. ;-) As many of you may know, I write primarily on my lunch hour at work. My employer has mandated that we only use HP laptops while at work, so I’m towing the line. Luckily, HP makes some bad-ass laptops and I’ll be driving a pretty cool one. Here’s a picture of one, below.

 

That should get you up to speed regarding me and my writing. Next post I’ll let you know some of the books I’ve read this year and why I recommend them.

 

 

 

Short Stories Now On Kobo

Are you a fan of short fiction? Did you read the Star Saga books and wish there were more stories set in that universe? Really? Wow, I thought only I wanted that. Cool. Well, if you want more Devon Ardel, Red Allen and Thirty-seven, you’re in luck. Just head on over to your phone’s app store and get the Kobo ebook app. Then you can start downloading ebooks of all my short stories set in the Star Saga universe. Kobo is the exclusive publisher for my short fiction. You can’t get these stories on Amazon or anywhere else in ebook format.

Each short story ebook will set you back a whole US dollar! So choose wisely. Collect them all for hours of reading adventure.

There are eleven individual shorts and one anthology – Tales From Ocherva, that contains many of them. I’ll be adding more stories soon, and from now on when I write a new short story, they will appear on Kobo, and nowhere else!

What’s Next for Corvette?

The Corvette Trilogy is now complete with the publication of Pirate’s Lair. The next trilogy in this Starship Series, that’s what I’m calling it for lack of a better descriptor, is called the Destroyer Trilogy. Our hero, Captain Armon Vance is now on a Tin Can and on a new set of missions. I hope to start writing the first book, Declo Demons this fall. Look for it in the first half of 2019.

The series will take a dark and different turn with this middle trilogy as Vance searches for his former First Officer – Trin Lestor. Declo Demons will be a loose retelling of the literary classic, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Sort of like how Appocolapse Now retold the story in Vietnam, Declo Demons will retell the story on a distant planet.

  

Middle books of a trilogy are usually darker and this middle trilogy will be edgier and darker, right from the get-go. It takes place five years after the first trilogy and its set mostly on the jungle world of Declo where the dominant technology is diesel and the hunt for oil drives humans and aliens deeper into the darkest jungle. I’m super excited to write this book as I’ve already outlined it and the story is really going to be a fun read.

Above is a dirigible/boat that has inspired a craft in the story. Below are some aliens and humans that have also inspired the story.

    

It’s going to be a wild ride and I can’t wait to share it with you next year!

 

 

Welcome to the Center of the Universe

This summer my family and I visited the tiny scenic town of Wallace, Idaho. Wallace is primarily known for two things; it’s the town you see in Dante’s Peak that gets destroyed by a volcano and it’s the Center of the Universe. To be sure, you can stand in the middle of the town’s main street, right in the center of the universe and feel like you’re on a bonafide movie set.

Here’s the family selfie we shot with the famous manhole cover. I’ve wanted to come to Wallace and take this picture for years after my wife had done so on a business trip. How cool is it to say you’ve been to the center of the universe? Especially a Sci-Fi nerd like me!

Below is a close up that I think everyone takes in addition to the above selfie.

If you look down the street, this is the view you have, straight out of Dante’s Peak.

Now I’m a huge fan of Douglas Adams and it’s kind of hard to actually go to the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, but you can definitely go to Wallace and claim that you’ve been to the Center Of The Universe.

Needless to say, we had a great time in Wallace. We toured a silver mine with a retired miner, walked the Polaski Trail and had lots of Huckleberry desserts. If you ever get to Idaho, you simply have to visit Wallace. Find the Prime Minister of Wallace, Rick Shaffer, you can’t miss him, he’s the tallest human in town, and tell him Ken McConnell sent you. Oh, and get a selfie with Rick, because he’s a Hoopy Frood!

 

 

Seiko Prospex PADI

As regular followers of my Twitter account have no-doubt noticed, I tend to take pictures of my watches when I write or edit during my lunchtime sprints. Somehow the #WatchAndWords hashtag has never really caught on. Usually, I’m sporting my Hamilton Khaki Mechanical. But lately, I’ve been wearing a new Seiko diver.

I probably would not have gotten this watch had it not been offered to me for free through an employee gift program, but now that it’s in my rotation, I’m enjoying it. It sits on my wrist very comfortably and it looks good on either the included bracelet or any number of colorful NATO bands. Would I actually purchase one then? Yes, but not the PADI Pepsi. I’d probably go for the black dial version.

The one thing I have learned from wearing a diver for a month now is that I do appreciate the look more now. In the future, I could see getting a more upscale diver such at Tudor’s Black Bay 65 or heaven forbid, a Rolex Submariner.

I’m still not crazy about the arrow minute hand. The blue radiant dial is pretty in direct sunlight.

The watch wears colorful NATO’s really well, especially this patriotic tri-color one.

I also have a nicer bracelet but I found it to be too heavy and chunky for my tastes. Perhaps I can use it on another watch down the line. Getting a bracelet on this watch is not easy. I know watch geeks all faun over the SKX 007 Seiko diver, but if you don’t mind spending a bit more, I can heartily recommend this one instead. It has more features and still sports the classic Seiko diver features.

A Five Book Trilogy

There are five books in the first trilogy of my Star Saga series. It’s called the Starforgers Era or Trilogy but it really consists of five books and one anthology of related short stories. Each numbered book is a novel and each in between book is a novella focusing on the lead good and bad characters respectively.

Starforgers is Book 1 of the entire series and the first book of the Starforgers Trilogy. But before you go off and read book 2, take a gander at Devon’s Blade, a novella set between books one and two. Then you can carry on with The Rising, Book 2. Before rushing off to finish the trilogy, read The Blood Empress novella. Now finally, you have Counterattack, Book 3 of the trilogy. But wait, there’s more…

Did you enjoy the introduction of the heroin, Devon Ardel, when she was a Stellar Ranger in Starforgers? Then feast your eyes on this anthology set before book one. Silicants, Rangers, and Space Western goodness await you in Tales From Ocherva, Vol 1. Is there a Volume 2? Not at this time.

Okay, you got all of that? Good.

Now, here’s where the Corvette books come in.

Corvette is book one of a planned nine-book series of novella’s that follow the career of Armon Vance. This series consists of three trilogies, each set a number of years apart. The final book in the series takes place at the time of Starforgers, Book 1 of the Star Saga. The first book, Corvette takes place 20 + years before Corvette, for perspective. There is about a year between each book inside the trilogies.

Corvette Trilogy ~ 5 years ~ Destroyer Trilogy ~ 10 years ~  Explorer Trilogy  –>  Starforgers Trilogy

Clear as mud? Okay now go read, I’ve got a ton of books to write!

 

Ye Old Stellar Map

Twenty years ago I drew a map in MS Paint. It was based on the shape of a barred galaxy and it showed the Alliance planets and the Votainion Empire planets of what would become known as my Star Saga series of novels. Although at that time, I had yet to write even one novel, much less a series of them. But as the years progressed and my writing output increased, I always came back to this map to keep everything clear, at least in my mind.

If you’ve read any of the Star Saga novels or the novellas some of these places will be familiar to you. In looking at the map I have noticed the glaring absence of a very significant planet in the series – Ocherva. It should be located in the Outer Rim worlds near Negram and Alifax. I guess I need to update the old map. If I knew any talented artists who could render this map over a galaxy using cool fonts and other map making tools, I would commision a better version. But until then, I keep using this bit-mapped image from my youth as a guide to my future writings.

Above is a patched version of the map that now includes Ocherva.

Automated Paper Shredder

My son Spencer was given the task of shredding a big box of old financial papers for us. His response was to automate the task using his Arduino microcontroller. He built an auto feeder with a stepper motor and a wheel and some cardboard. Then he put a light sensor over the jam light panel to detect a jam, which then turns off the feeder and sounds an audible alarm.

I think this kid might be an Engineer. Also, I may be raising my replacement at HP.

In Between Time

Currently, I’m in between finishing the edits for Corvette 3 and finishing the last half of a Mystery novel. I can’t really do anything on the first and I don’t have time to get into the other one before I would inevitably be dragged back to finish the first one. So what do I do with my writing time? I’m plotting and world building for the next two novellas in the Corvette series. This is proving to be way more entertaining than I would have imagined. I love making stuff up. So glad I have an outlet to do it legally.

In other news, we’re currently remodeling the homestead. The kids have newly painted rooms and new carpet. Now we’re doing the same to the master bedroom. With any luck, we will be finished in the next week or so. Right now my wife and I are living in the family room while we paint. It’s like camping out at home.

The base color is a dark blue-gray with white trim.

This is what the kid’s rooms look like now. The same carpet will be in the master bedroom.

My son Spencer got a new desk in his room. He’s pretty happy with it. There is space for his computer and a second seat for building his electronics projects.

Here’s a #WordsAndWatch picture showing my latest ideas for a new character named, Desche.

That’s about it for now. The patriotic watch band is about it for me this 4th of July. Don’t feel up to celebrating the end of my democracy right now.