2020 Now A Meme

When you’re just halfway through the year and so much bad has happened, I guess it’s inevitable that the year itself has become a meme. A shortcut for all the calamity and suffering that has happened of late. All I can do is sympathize with those who have been hit hardest and try to carry on in hopes of better times ahead. Which is what I’ve been doing not just this year, but for many years now.

I’ve been working on edits for a couple of my novels and writing the Explorer trilogy. In relation to the later, I have also built the Explorer starship model – SS Bourke. I will eventually get around to adding this model to the web site, but a teaser image of it below shows what it looks like after a coat of primer.

My other hobby of late is learning to play the electric guitar. My progress has been slowed by RSI injury to my fret fingers. Even with that pain, I’ve managed to play my first song – Act Naturally, by Buck Owens. I’m moving on now to learning CCR’s Bad Moon Rising, a song that could be the anthem for 2020.

Along with learning to play, I’ve also been messing around building a parts Stratocaster. That is now complete and can be seen below along with my first guitar, an HSS hard tail Strat. The new guitar plays great and I’m using it more than the other for now. My tinkering plans include eventually modding the heck out of the black instrument to learn as much as I can about pickups and caps.

Stay safe out there, the COVID-19 virus has not gone away. It will be with us until everyone is vaccinated. Probably next year. If you’re white, try to come to terms with your privilege and show some empathy for the other. Be respectful to others, both their property and their political, religious views. Getting along is how we get through this, not by feeding the divisions among us.

Above: my current guitars. Below, my current scratch built model.

Quarentine Days

So what to do when you’re trapped at home and can’t get out to explore one of the prettiest states in the union? Sit at home and start wriitng another book, I guess. I took a few weeks to plot out the final trilogy of the Starship Series and decided to go ahead and write them this year. I should be able to finish three more novellas this year and then just start releasing them as they are edited and their covers are created.

The other manuscripts I have written, still require editing but frankly, I’m in the mindset needed to write Captain Vance stories, so might as well plow through the final trilogy. When I finish them, you will be right where the Star Saga starts at Starforgers. So that makes 14 or 15 possible ebooks to read before you get to where I’m at in that saga.

I’m keeping busy at least. Along with learning to play guitar, I’m in a good place now, despite the worst this year can fling at me, which now includes earth quakes, an incompentant President, and a deadly pandemic. Stay at home, and stay safe out there! And a big THANK YOU, to everyone working to keep us safe and fed during this crisis!

Ostrov Warship Build, Part 3

Because this starship was going to be white, I used gray primer on it. This was done with common, everyday car primer from a spray can. Nothing fancy. I use a drop cloth on my driveway and wear a mask when spraying. This is when a pile of glued together, miss-matched pieces of plastic, starts to look like a model of something real.

Below you see the model back on the work bench, ready to be weathered or aged.

Below, the top and front of the model have already been wet brushed with India Ink. It’s a slow process, but the results are often fantastic. Especially if you’re going for that used machinery look made so popular by Star Wars and ILM.

Here is the bottom of the model during one of the many passes of the black wash.

All the details of the back of the model really pop when they are high lighted by the black wash.

Here’s the finished model, after it was dry brushed with black pastels. Again, to me anyways, this is very influenced by Star Trek TOS, as well as Star Wars.

Below we see the Ostrov Warship on the C-stand, being photographed for the book covers. Another job well done.

Ostrov Warship Build, Part 2

The large white colored pieces used as the bridge and forward hull are discarded 3D printed parts from our model lab at work. No idea what they were intended to be for. If you work on computers, you will see parts you can readily identify on this model. I didn’t restrict myself to the junk bins for parts, like on the Sultran warship, so you will see some model parts mixed in there too.

This model has a solid block of RenShape for the mount. It can be mounted from behind and underneath and locked off with the set screw shown below. I made no effort to hide the set screw. Primarily because it won’t ever be seen in the final book cover image. I even left the RenShape as part of the ship’s hull. Sloppy. But worst of all, the mount is too far stern so it doesn’t really stand up nicely on a the mount. It leans forward due to gravity. Terrible modeling skilz.

Working out the smaller details along the top of the ship. As you can see, I used some pill bottles for the engines.

The bridge on the top is also very Star Trek looking. Consider them homages. ;-) In the image below you can see the RJ45 plugs and other various electronic connectors used for details.

Here are the side details before getting painted. This is my favorite part of space ship model building. My second favorite is ageing or weathering. And that’s what’s coming up in Part 3!

Sultran Warship Build, Part 3

I decided to paint this model silver, to make it different from all the other ships in this universe. Silver models start off life with a flat black primer. For this one I used a rattle can. Below is the finished model in primer black.

I next painted the whole model in silver using my airbrush and acrylic model paint.

This is the top of the model getting painted silver.

After the silver was good and dry, I mixed some India Ink black with water and used it to wet brush all over the model and then wiped off the excess. This is a tried and true weathering technique and it really does work. It puts black into the cracks and sometimes tarnishes the base color of the model.

It was decided to make the head removable so that I could model the ship as it appears in the story. Thus I had to make some interior pipes and details and then paint them up.

In the below image, I’m using a dry brush method with dusted pastels. The brass coloring on the engine shields was an attempt to add some interest to an otherwise pretty dull paint job.

below are the finished versions of both the Sultran warship and the Ostrov warship. The tiny X-Wing is very close to the 1/350 scale of these models.


Sultran Warship Build, Part 2

At some point I decided that I really needed a way to mount this model, if it was going to be used for a book cover. So I had to cut a block of RenShape and fit it inside the model after it had been built. Not the way I normally do business. The hull of this ship was built for some other purpose, and I didn’t want to take it apart, so that dictated the order of things a bit.

The model could be mounted from behind, going all the way through it with a metal rod or from underneath with same rod.

The head of this ship was from a teleconferencing unit and after putting them together I realized it looked like a frog. Oh, well. I actually retrofitted that description into the novellas.

The engines were to be mounted to pylons similar to Star Trek ships. Here I am gluing the pylon mounts and shields.

The stern section gets details. All of the details on this model were taken from the garbage bins where I work. So parts of computers and other electronic equipment. I’ve trained some of the guys I work with to look for interesting plastic parts and every day I get offerings on my desk. This helped immensely and I’d like to shout out a big THANK YOU to Johnathon and the other bin divers!

Here’s the model with the pylons attached to the main body. I use Gorilla glue for this kind of job. Also, I’ve filled gaps on the head with car Bondo and sanded.

Here’s the frog on the examination table. Heh! The engine tubes are on, just PVC pipes in 1/2 inch. Again, all details are either sheet plastic or bits of computers. No model parts were used on this ship.

Here she is right side up on the bench and ready for primer. Next post is all about painting and ageing the model.


Writing Progress Report

It took me two and half months to finish the final novella of the Destroyer Trilogy – Letting Go. My goal is to finish the draft by March. Now I’m cleaning up and editing all three Destroyer books. My brother has started working on covers for the trilogy. A busy time indeed. Hopefully, I’ll have all three novellas ready to publish this summer. Then I can go back and start cleaning up two novels I wrote in the last year or two, both of which I’ll use to try and find an agent.

I was going to try and write another novel, but I need to get these two I’ve already completed out the door. One of them will require some extensive editing before I can present it. So I’ll probably only write the one novella and then edit and publish the rest of the year. Next year I’ll start in on XiniX and return to the Star Saga. I’m looking forward to getting back to the Starstrikers team.

I’ve been working from home for two weeks now and I think we’re settling into the Social Distancing lifestyle needed to beat this COVID-19 virus. You can follow me on Twitter for pictures and thoughts in quarantine.

I’ve also been spending time learning to play the electric guitar. It’s fun and it’s not related to writing or work. 

Sultran Warship Build – Part 1

Just as I’m crazy enough to write an entire trilogy at once, I’m building two book cover models at the same time. This one being the Sultran Warship from the Destroyer Trilogy. The Ostrov system is where our heroes are stranded, looking for the pirate ship Black Star and it’s captain – Trin Lestor. Ostrov is the largest populated planet in a system of seven planets.

I started with this old attempt at some kind of ship that I found in my parts bins. I started fitting various parts to it and before you know it, I had the makings of a ship that didn’t look anything like the usual designs of the Star Saga.

I had to match the panels on one side of the triangle body. Then I just started adding more greeblies to the back side.

The head was taken from a common meeting room microphone system. If you work in corporate America, you may even recognize it. The plan is to glue some engine nacelles onto the sides and then start adding smaller details and panel lines. I expect this will be a quick build and might even be finished before the Sultran warship seen in the background.

Ostrov Warship Build, Part 1

For the Destroyer Trilogy of novellas, I needed to create a new starship model. With the crew of the Truxtun stranded in the Ostrov System, one of their chief antagonists are the Sultran warships. My plan was to build one and bascially use it to create as many of them as possible. I struggles with a design for them and finally settled on a drawing done in my youth by my friend Ed Halbig. I wouldn’t be following it verbatim though, I would be using scraps of plastic from my day job in a kit-less version of Kit Bashing.

I work for a tech giant and I have friends who like to dig through the company garbage bins for old equipment to salvage. I’ve trained them to find interesting plastic bits of junk for me to use on my models. I now have several plastic storage bins filled with such greeblie goodness. So I thought I’d use them to build this model in a piece mill sort of fashion.

Heres the original drawing. I’ve long forgotten the circumstances that led to these ships being pelted with asteroids, but I like their look. It’s important for the warship to not look like anything in the Federation or the Votainion armada. Both of these ships fit that bill.

One of the first things I do for a build like this is try and find parts taht match what I want for engines or the main body. In this case I started with the engine which in part are Airborne medicine bottles.

For the main body, I started with a block of RenShape for the mount, then built up two black plastic pieces for sides and some plastic core board for the top. At this point, I still don’t know how I will shape the body from the parts I have. But I do know that the engines will attach to those brackets on the black pieces.

The above picture shows the RenShape with mount inserted and the set screw protruding from the side. The metal blocks are being used to hold things down when they glue. Those blocks and various clamps are a scratch modeler’s best friend. Also – Gorilla Glue and Testers tube glue are my cements of choice when scratch buidling. I also use Super Glue, but less than the other two.

Here’s a close up of the engine parts made from varous parts found in my boxes.The white parts are 3D printed in the model shop at work and the clear part shown here is a soap dispenser pump.

Above you can see the 3D printed boxes that I settled on for the bridge and lower front body of the starship. They were light weight and simple shapes that sort of look like the drawing.

This angle shows the sheet styrene used to fill in the boxes and shape the main body of the ship. I expect detailing to commence shortly after this initial boxing in of the main shape.

This angle shows how the engine nacelles will sit on the mount racks. She’s beginning to take shape. Next time we’ll have plenty of greebly detailing to show off.

Ten Creative Goals For 2020

Some creative things I’ll be looking to accomplish in 2020. No particular order, after zero.

0. Vote Trump out of office.
1. Continue learning to play guitar, get an acuistic guitar.
2. Finish some new starship models for my book covers.
3. Read more fiction/non-fiction.
4. Finish and publish the Destroyer Trilogy of novellas.
5. Write XiniX, Book 5 of the Star Saga.
6. Get an agent for my Mystery Novel.
7. Go to a writer’s conference again. Been a while.
8. Watch all the new TV Star Treks.
9. Watch all of Lost in Space Seaason 2.
10. Promote my writing.