I’ve decided to start up my newsletter again. It’s been so long, I can’t remember the last time I actually sent one out. If you were a subscriber and you have not received this month’s issue, please resubscribe. I changed back to Mailchimp and lost my old subscribers. Which was okay, as most of them were not legit anyway.
I’ll try and stay on top of this from now on, sending out one newsletter every month. If I don’t have anything new coming out, I’ll try and give you some insight into the making of my novels and or the models I build for the covers. Something new and original that you might not see here or on Twitter.
I hope you’ll subscribe and give me a quick read every month. Now to go figure out something to include for December’s issue before that month gets here.
I’ve had this idea of making a series of art books based on the old Aircraft in Profile series that my dad had when I was growing up. They were In-depth histories of fighters with multiple profiles in color of each aircraft.
The hardest part of doing a book like this is actually drawing all the different profiles needed. I was either going to have to figure it out myself or hire the task out to an artist. I decided to go ahead and learn how to do it myself. I don’t profess to be a great digital artist, but I’m learning. Here are some of the first and easiest profiles that I’ve done so far. These are all KiV-1 starfighters from my Star Saga series.
It all starts with a vector based line drawing like you see below. This one shows the fighter from the left, bottom, top and right side. I didn’t do a head-on shot. Mental note: do a head-on shot. The top and bottom sides are blended which will be more evident after this one is “painted”. The program I use for this is called InkScape and it’s free and open source.
After I have this sketch completed, I import it into Gimp, which is a free and Open Source Photoshop clone. That’s where all the magic happens. Below is another version of the above line drawing but with just a left/top/right orthographic view. This attempts to recreate the cardboard model of a KiV-1 that I built years ago.
By the way, the KiV-1 is about the same size as a P-51B Mustang, as seen in the models below.
The real point of doing this is to show multiple liveries on the same starfighter. I’ve started doing this with separate files as seen below. The first one is nearly complete. I still haven’t learned how to do shading, so I may come back to this one later and add that. But it does have decals and unit markings.
The Type 33 variant just has the main parts painted in but lacks any decals or unit badges. The Type 35 is still in the process of being painted. Each color has its own layer in Gimp so you can color outside the lines and then just use an eraser to clean them up. Once I realized this was the way to go, things go so much easier. You start with an insanely high resolution vector file and then lower it to about 1000 to import it into Gimp. The zoom in and out feature is your friend.
Because these are different types, there should be some visual different in the appearance other than just colors. I have not attempted that yet. Also, usually on these profiles the aircraft are weathered a bit. Again, have not learned how do to that yet. So I have a ways to go before these are ready for print. But at least now you can see where I’m heading with this project. Eventually I’ll move on to the Alliance fighters which will have readable unit names and numbers.
The unit markers were done seperately in InkScape and imported as a layer in Gimp. Inkscape is perfect for creating cool looking unit badges and other decal type markings.
One thing that surprised me when doing these profiles is how much fun they were to make. Listening to some jams and just coloring in Gimp was pretty relaxing. A nice creative break from writing novels and a good way to make art while the dumpster fire of 2020 burns in the backgroung.
DESTROYER: Declo Demons is the fourth book in the Starship Series that started with Corvette. If you have read the Corvette trilogy, you may need to jog your memory by reading the final chapter of Book 2 before diving into Declo Demons. There is no recap to catch you up. Declo Demons is the start of the second trilogy in the series and will be three books long.
The above image shows the released book covers in the series and the trilogy titles for each. The series starts with the CORVETTE trilogy, then the DESTROYER trilogy and finally, the EXPLORER trilogy. In each trilogy, the series hero, Captain Vance is on a different class of starship.
These are short books, none longer than 200 pages in length. They are intended to be read in order and no effort is made to recap what happened in the previous book. I will be bundling each trilogy into a book and selling it for much less than if you were to buy each book. But frankly, at $2.99 per book, these books are priced to buy and read quickly.
Each trilogy has it’s own arc and the main character, Armon Vance, has an arc that lasts all nine books. In Corvette, he’s a young, freshly minted commander and by the last book, he’s the bearded old star captain who’s seen more of the galaxy than anyone else. I’m currently writing the final trilogy where Vance comes out of retirement to help lead an inexperienced crew aboard a civilian exploration ship that will push the boundaries of known space and in the end, wind up right where the Star Saga begins.
I hope to finish writing this series next year and have them all available by the Spring of 2022. I hope you’ll stick with them until then.
You can purchase DESTROYER: Declo Demons right now, wherever ebooks are sold!
This one is the first of the middle trilogy of the Starship Series that started with Corvette. The new trilogy is known as the Destroyer Trilogy, because Captain Vance and crew are now on an old Destroyer. The starship model featured on this cover is the SS Truxtun.
Here are some close up shots of the model post-refit for this cover. Originally this model was to be a battleship, but over time I changed my mind and it became a destroyer. To make it look older and worn, I aged it with my hobby grinder and sandpaper. Evidence of a long career in the black. It also received a liberal amount of black ink washes.
The entire top of the engine section was rebuilt after the model took a tumble from a shelf in my garage to the concrete floor. I’m pretty pleased with how the refit came out.
My brother Bryon, put the model onto a NASA image of Earth and added navigation lights and some windows, and a butane flame out the engines. The end result is simple but eye catching. We had to ca-jigger the subtitle to make it pop against the lighter background. In the end, it looks pretty solid.
Destroyer: Declo Demons will be out in eBook format everywhere, 29 September 2020!
I have completed the first round of edits for Destroyer – Book 4 of the Starship Series. The name of the book is Declo Demons. It’s the first book of the middle trilogy of the series and it’s set about six years after the last Corvette trilogy book.
We’re still working on getting the cover art wrapped up. The next phase is a complete read through to catch any editing mistakes and then I’ll build the ebook version of the novella. Hopefully we can get it released in September.
Above is the actual photograph of the model that will appear on the book’s cover. Minus the tripod and C-stand.
I have two more novella’s in that trilogy that need edited and covers, so once we get them completed, we can release them pretty quickly. I’m writing the first book of the final trilogy of the series now, which takes place twenty years after the middle trilogy.
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.
It’s fall and the temperature here in Boise has finally come down to tollerable levels. This means it’s model building season at House McConnell. My workbench is already dirtied up with bits of plastic and a new model frame on the stand. I have to create two new starship models for an upcoming trilogy of Destroyer novellas.
I’m starting with a Sultran Warship which is loosely based on drawing a buddy of mine did when we were kids. Of course I’m improvising the build and using a bunch of kit bashing parts from the junk bins of the company I work at. I’m hoping that foks won’t recognize anything and that I have used and it will look unique in the universe for which it was built.
There is another warship, slightly smaller that I still haven’t worked out yet. I’m considering something more along the lines of a rocket or perhaps a submarine-like shape. The Sultran ship will be a matte green color, so I might do the opposing forces in silver or something completely different than what we’ve seen before. The stories are set in a distant star system that is not part of the main Federation, and can therefore be very different in just about every way imaginable.
Stay tuned for more progress posts on these models.
Sometimes the people I know find their way into my stories. I usually will honor a friend by naming a character after them but that character never looks or acts anything like the person they are named after. Such was the case for a friend who works with me at my day job. He has always been one of my best fans and has read many of my books. When I was writing Devon’s Blade I decided to honor him by creating a character named after him. That character was called Hank in the novel. For those of you who haven not read the novel, Hank dies in the end. But my friend always insisted that his death was never confirmed and that Hank lived!
This week is my friend’s last week with my work group. He’s moving on to bigger and better things and we’re all going to miss him around the office. To honor him, I wrote him a short story about Hank and what happened after Devon’s Blade finished. I hope you enjoy it as much as my friend did. Maybe someday I’ll include it in a new version of the ebook. But for now, you can read it right here, on the blog.
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!
Corvette 3, Pirate’s Lair is now available in 5×8 paperback, exclusively on Amazon. As of this writing, it has not been linked to the ebook offering page, but I expect that to change next week. When you buy the paperback, you will get the ebook for FREE. So if you like to have two versions of a book for convenience sake, like me, this is the better value.
I’m mulling the possibility of creating a Trilogy Paperback in a larger format, probably Trade Paperback. Let me know if this interests you. It would cost less than if you were to buy all three in paperback. I’m less likely to offer a similar ebook because Amazon already bundles it for me.
I’m done with this series for now. My immediate writing efforts are going towards completing Kill Dash Nine, the next Joshua Jones Mystery novel. Once that’s finished I can come back to Destroyer.