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 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!

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. 


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.

Writing Accomplishments – 2019

This year was the first year in over a decade that I didn’t actually publish anything. My initial goals were to finish three novellas so that I could begin publishing them next year. I managed to write two of them in a year. I’m still many months away from finishing the third novella and from publishing any of them. So that goal will extend deeper into 2020 than I anticipated.

The first novella of the Destroyer Trilogy was written quite fast and cording to my Beta Readers, is one of their favorite things I’ve ever written. But getting that second novella done took most of the year and was a real pain in my ass. I managed to finish it just a few days before the end of 2019. It still needs a good edit, but I think it allowed me to move the story arc along nicely, for a great final book. I’m already 1400 words into book three as of this writing and I have a renewed enthusiasm for the series.

My writing output has been slow this year, and I think the biggest reason is all the time I’ve spent volunteering with Civil Air Patrol. I took over as the Squadron Commander for the Boise Composite Squadron in October of 2018 and CAP has become something akin to a full time second job this year. Time spent at activities and worrying about personnel issues has drained me quite a bit this year. Hopefully I can manage that position a bit better in the next three years, until I hand it over to someone else.

New Starship 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.

What I’ve Been Doing This Year

I have to be honest. I keep forgetting I even have a blog. I just don’t have much time to tend to it these days. Well, let’s just say I’ve got other priorities right now. This has been the only year in the past ten years, that I have not published a novel or novella or even a short story. Nothing. Dead air. Only two blog posts in six months.

So have I quite writing fiction then? No. Not entirely. My goal is to write three novellas this year. I’m at 1.2 so far, so I need to keep typing as the year’s more than half over now. Can I finish one and a half novella’s before the end of 2019? Possibly. Usually I finish a book and publish it, but this time I’m planning on releasing an entire trilogy in like a few week’s time next year. Just to see what happens. Then it’s back to a book or two a year again.

These last few weeks it’s been a slog getting through book two of the Destroyer Trilogy. Part of that is due to my plot being not exactly clear to me and part of it is due to lack of interest in writing. Maybe I’ve hit some kind of wall, maybe it’s plot related and maybe I’m just tired of it all and my creativity is hibernating. Whatever it is, I need to kick myself in the butt and get writing.

I have a Mystery and a stand alone SF novel in editing, but those are both being reserved for traditional publishing. So you might not see them for years. In the meantime, I should have this trilogy out early next year.

Final Draft Editing

The rest of December is pretty much all about me polishing the final drafts of two novels that may not see the light of day for years to come. I was recently pointed to a new book called Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. I’m using it as a guide to make sure my novels stay on track and in addition to Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, it’s proving to be a big help in that department.

In the above image you can also see the new laptop that I purchased for writing. It’s proving to be a really good platform. For the curious, it’s an HP Spectre 13″ running Ubuntu 18.10. I normally use Google Docs for drafting, but I switch to LibreOffice Write for editing.

I’m hoping to have my SF novel to my editor by the end of this week or next and then follow that up with the new Mystery novel. Hopefully sometime in mid-January I’ll be ready to start sending them both out to agents. They each represent the best writing that I’ve done to this date. I don’t expect to have too much trouble selling either one or both of them. Unfortunately, until they get rejected by everyone under the sun, they won’t see the light of day. 

In the mean time, I’m back to writing the fourth Starship Series book, entitled Destroyer: Declo Demons. That will be published next year. My second book for 2019 will in all likelihood be Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX. 

Next post I promise to write about the books I’ve read this year and recommend. 

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!