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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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What’s Coming Next

With the release of the third Corvette starship novella coming in just a few short weeks, I thought I’d take a moment to let you know what’s coming up next. The Corvette Trilogy is just the first of three planned trilogies with the same main character – Armon Vance. His story started with Corvette, then advanced with Corvette: Seer of the Black Star and finishes with Corvette: Pirate’s Lair.

          

The next book I will write for this series will be called – Destroyer: Declo Demons. Look for it in the Spring of 2019. Following along on the heels of that will be book 2, Destroyer: The Mutineers, which should ship for Christmas in 2019. The trilogy will finish in the Spring of 2020 with Destroyer: Letting Go. The Destroyer Trilogy will be darker and all the books will take place in a single system with seven habitable worlds, none of which are in the Federation.

I have one final starship trilogy planned. It will be called the Explorer Trilogy. The names of those books are still subject to change, but chronologically speaking, will end with the events that take place in Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga. That will complete the Captain Vance starship series and take you right into the Star Saga.

Speaking of the Star Saga, I need to get back into that middle trilogy starting with Book 5 – XiniX. The Starstrikers trilogy will continue in parallel with the Starship Series. After XiniX comes out, there will be a novella – Dark Wind, followed by the final book in that trilogy: Nex Gen. Now the Star Saga books take longer to write because they are closer to 300 pages long and usually have more involved plots. So it’s going to take me longer to write them. But when the Starstriker Trilogy is over, it will have three novels and two novellas, just like the Starforgers Trilogy.

Needless to say, my lunchtime writing sprints are spoken for well into the near future. I should continue to have two books come out every year for the next decade or so.

 

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Cover Art

We’ve put together a new cover, this time for the Corvette 3 novella. It will be the third book in the Corvette Trilogy and the first and only to feature the new Corvette model. Well, never say never. I mean it could return for a later series appearance. Once again, this cover is put together by my brother, Byron McConnell. Another awesome job by him!

I created the new Corvette a year ago, that’s how far ahead I think. It started with a sketch and finished with a model.

The Kootenai is named for a town in my home state of Idaho. So was Weippe, now that I think about it.

 

 

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Airborne Again

Those of you familiar with my novels or with me personally, know that I’m a big fan of aviation. From a young age, I’ve always liked airplanes and flying. When I was a teenager, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and got to ride in small planes as a cadet. When I got to High School, my dad bought a Cessna 150 and I learned to fly in it. I never did complete my license, but I racked up lots of time in that old trainer.

Skip forward thirty years and now I have kids in CAP and I’m an adult member. This past weekend I finally got to train as a Mission Scanner for CAP. It was my first time back on a small plane in three decades. For at least one sortie, I even got to fly search grids in the Cessna 182 assigned to my CAP Squadron. It was a fun day of classroom work and actual flying.

I spend many hours a month attending CAP meetings, training and activities. For someone like me who writes about imaginary starfighter pilots, being able to fly with an actual civilian auxiliary of the USAF, is invaluable writer fuel. I never got to fly in the Air Force, but in CAP I can be part of an aircrew and help my fellow citizens by finding downed aircraft, missing persons or helping to assist the AF with air intercept missions.

If you’ve always wanted to do something like that, look up the nearest CAP squadron near you and attend their meetings. It’s a great organization for aviation-minded students and adults.

 

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Cover Models, Corvette 3

The Corvette 3 manuscript is being scrutinized by Beta Readers at the moment, so I have some time to prep the starship models I built for the cover shoot. This began by using canned air to blow the dust off of both the pirate ship and the new corvette. More time was taken on the Kootenai to ensure dust and hairs were removed as it would probably be in the foreground. I had to glue a piece back on that the air can blew off, but other than that, they were good to go.

I still don’t have an exact idea how the ships will be positioned on the cover. I’ll try and replicate a scene from the novella and make it look visually interesting. But the end cover will come alive after a decent Photoshop session from Byron, my cover artist. The color scheme will include mostly blues and oranges. No more black and white covers like Corvette 2.

The title will be orange and the nebula and twin black holes in the background will be blue. I’m going to rely on Byron to make all that. I think the end product will be engaging and fit with the previous covers of the series. Since this is a trilogy and the next books will be called Destroyer, I’ll probably combine three novellas into a single book and charge $1.99 for it. That cover might be just a collage of the other covers.

The ebook should be out at the start of this summer with the paperback version probably coming out in the fall.

 

 

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Writing Update

Corvette 3, Pirate’s Lair is heading out to Beta Readers and will then go to my Editor. I’m hoping to have it out in ebook format in May. I still have to make a cover for it. At this late date, I have no idea what that cover will look like. I think it will be orange titles and mostly blue nebula. Probably have some “laser beams” on it because, hell yeah, lasers!

Meanwhile I’m well into my next Mystery novel written under my alter ego’s name, Johnny Batch. It’s called Kill Dash Nine and I hope to have it out before Christmas of this year. So if you’re one of the one percent my readers who have read Null Pointer and are still waiting for another Joshua Jones mystery, this is your year.

So what’s on tap after I finish KD9? I had planned to dive into the fifth Star Saga novel – XiniX. But looking at my book sales numbers tells me I need to keep writing Corvette books like there’s no tomorrow. I’m selling far and away more copies of them than any of the Star Saga books. So XiniX is going to the back burner for a while. I’ll probably start writing the first of a trilogy called Destroyer using the same characters from Corvette trilogy. I’d like to plan out all three books and then start writing the first one in the fall of this year.

So in 2018 you will get the third Corvette novella and a new Mystery novel. Next year you’ll probably get two new Destroyer books. I have three novella trilogies with the same cast from Corvette. The ninth novella in that series will end right before the events in Starforgers, Book 1 of the Star Saga. If I continue with at least two novellas per year, then in 2021 I’ll finally be working on XiniX.

That’s all for now. I’ll try and do another post before the end of the year.

 

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