Novel Bits and Pieces – Re-Reading Before Writing


This is my first week back from break and I often feel out of touch with my WIP. So I take some time to re-read what I have already written to get back into the ebb and flow of the story. Sometimes I find glaring errors that I need to fix before moving on. Sometimes I just marvel at how well the story is moving, or cringe in horror if it’s not going anywhere. I’d rather catch plotting errors earlier rather than later.

All this week my daily lunch hour writing sessions have been spent reading what I have already written for K’nat Trap. Above is a screen capture from my Plume Creator from chapter 8. The writing’s not that amazing, but I reintroduce the stakes involved so the reader knows the hero has to get moving. I’m not so much examining the writing at this point, just making sure it makes sense and things are moving. I know the story is wavering a bit from the outline and that will take some adjustments. But this happens all the way through the first draft for me. I write strong for days and then wander back and forth as I try to find the correct path forward in the high grass.

Because this is a novella and not a full length novel, I may need to pare down some characters and maintain focus on just a few. There was at least one subplot that I can’t remember where it was going. I hope today’s reading offers some clues, otherwise I may need to edit that one out. See how important it is to re-read before you dive back in?

Triak Starfighter Build, Part 5


This is one of my favorite steps in modeling. I love making a model look like it just came out of the real world where it has lived a long and hard life. Weathering sounds like it should only be for machines that live inside an atmosphere, but all machines get worn and used, even in space. So it really refers to damage, chipping of paint, fading of paint, grease and oil leaks and sometimes dirt and grime.

All of my models have that George Lucas look of being in a well-used universe. Because my models are also built specifically for my book covers, sometimes I don’t put unit marking on them or anything too unique, so that they can be copy and pasted into many fighters for cover art. But with this particular model, I decided to get individual. Which meant I could do unit badges and make unique mods like the starboard engine nacelle being removed.


In this wide shot you see the whole model as it stands now. Decals are applied and paint chipping has occurred on the painted areas and we have some dusting with artist’s charcoal.


I applied a light wash to the stern details but I will be going back over this area with more grime and oil as it looks too clean for my tastes.


The paint chipping was achieved by – wait for it, actually chipping the paint. I used my finger nail and a hobby knife. 


I think the nose art is from a WWII airplane kit. I just have a stack of decals and pick and chose from it randomly.


You can see the chipping details around the black area behind the pilot. Panels get chipped by ground crew constantly removing them and handling them with dirty fingers.


I think this engine art decal was from a Japanese F-1 kit.


I painted the blaster tips a darker gray since I had to do some gap filling on them post primer. I also made some of the raised panels different shades of gray.




Below we see a more extensive wash of black for the back details.




More wash applied to the intakes and exterior. 


Oily stains on the bottom are a bit of a trademark for me.


Another look at the bottom details. Even if I don’t model landing gear, I include the landing gear doors.


And here she is, complete. I don’t have any Votainion Empire symbols on it or any of my models, actually. That’s because I don’t have the ability to make my own decals. Easier to let graphic artists apply them in post.


This might be the last model I work on until winter releases it’s icy grip on my garage. Right now the temps are in the teens and my garage is just too cold to be in, even with an electric heater at my feet.

Year End Giveaway – The Blood Empress

Since nobody seems interested in this action packed Space Opera, I’ve decided to set it free on Kindle for the last three days of 2015. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you like to read, you’ll enjoy this book. What if the villain of a story was actually the heroine? The Blood Empress is a coming of age story for the Empress of the Votainion Empire. Filled with love interest, intrigue, revenge and epic battles, The Blood Empress won’t let you down on action and adventure.

It’s got battles, love interest and a sweeping scale in a relatively short novella. It reads like an epic but it won’t take you months to read. Probably a few hours at best. Perfect for reading on your phone as you find the time.


If you liked this book, check out Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga and learn how Empress Nykostra started the Great War with the Alliance.

The Blood Empress – Big Picture


My latest novella is quite different than the last one. It’s not about a starfighter squadron, in fact it’s not even about the good guys. The Blood Empress is about Empress Nykostra, ruler of the Votainion Empire. In Starforgers, Book 1 of the Star Saga, you are first introduced to the young Empress who has sent her military off to the far side of the galaxy looking for Kerra-Jorro, the home world of the Votainions. In that novel Nykostra beheads her Soothsayer and drinks his blood because he didn’t approve of her holy mission to find the Kerra-Jorro. After having done that the Soothsayer’s blood changes her and she begins to see her own future and the future of the Empire. From that point on she is known as the Blood Empress.

This novella is about what happens when she decides to leave Voton, the seat of Votainion power and venture out into space against her handler’s and a new Soothsayer’s wishes. It’s a coming of age story in which a sheltered young girl finds her destiny on a far off world and returns to shape the Empire into her own vision. I had a great time writing this story and it’s packed with adventure and action. Nykostra’s story was originally going to be in the second book of the series, The Rising. But while I was outlining that book, I realized her story was too big for one novel. So I created a novella that comes between books 2 and 3 of the series.

I later realized that there was room for a second novella in between book 1 and 2 and thus was born Devon’s Blade. So if you are reading the Star Saga in order here is the chronological order of the books:

Starforgers, Book 1 | Devon’s Blade | The Rising, Book 2 | The Blood Empress | Counterattack, Book 3

Fortunately, I’ve written the two novellas to be stand alone stories. Some characters in the novellas appear in the main books or are mentioned for narrative flow. But you can read each novella as a stand alone story. This novel, novella, novel, novella, novel pattern is also being used by Disney for the new Star Wars movies. Disney calls the in-between films Anthology Movies. So I think the idea is catching on in both literature and film.

I’m already hard at work writing the novella that will come after Book 4, Starstrikers in the second trilogy of the Star Saga. It’s another strarfighter type story called Knat Trap. I hope to have it out next summer. I’m also plotting and preparing to write Book 5, XiniX. So there will be the same pattern of novel, novella in the next “trilogy” of the series.

All of the first trilogy books will be out by January of next year. So in a couple of months, readers will have a clear path from which to read while they wait for me to write the next “trilogy”.

You can pre-order The Blood Empress today, it will appear on your Kindle the day before Thanksgiving. That’s about a week from now.



Renoke Model Update

Over the Labor Day weekend the Renoke model got some weathering. I started with an oil paint wash using burnt sienna and black. It gives the model a warm tone and makes the machinery look more realistic. It also makes it smell like an oil painting. I won’t be bringing it to work until that dries.

The next stage of weathering will be black pastel chalk, sandpaper and some miscellaneous things like oil leaks and rust. Do starships rust in space? No. But starships that land on planets and stay for a while, do.




Outlining K’nat Trap Novella

Work has commenced on the initial outline of K’nat Trap. I use Plume Creator for all my first drafts and below is a screenshot of Plume and the outline. Plume has a spreadsheet view for outlining, but lately I’ve taken to just using the editor’s tree view.

This story is set in the Starstrikers Era or the second trilogy of the Star Saga. It features Tamiya and Kiloe from Starstrikers and is essentially, a smaller strike mission.

I finished a first pass and now I need to go back through and make sure character arcs are there and drop in the tags for plot points. Kiloe is the main character in this one, but Tamiya gets plenty of page time too.

Votainion K’nat Starfighter

The next novella I’ll write is called K’nat Trap and it takes place between Starstrikers and XiniX. It’s about a Starstriker mission, led by Kiloe, to secure a new Votainion starfighter that has the NexGen stardrive.

There are currently only two drawings of this fighter in the Star Saga vault. They are shown below. These fighters are mentioned briefly in Starstrikers but were not described in any detail.

Tiny ships, like black winged gnats, wound in and around the mother ship picking off escape modules with deadly accuracy. After further reducing the ruins, the gnats returned to the safe belly of the dark beast. Perhaps relieved at having been given the chance to exercise their agility.

It didn’t have a name, other than the annoying but harmless gnat insect reference. At this time, I’m pretty sure the K’nat designation is either an Alliance code word or a Votainion nick name. I still have to figure out the proper lineage of the fighter. It is an evolutionary iteration of the basic Votainion starfighters of the Second Generation or Starstrikers Era.

Looking at these pretty old drawings I did of it you can see the basic shape is not quite correct. I’ll have to do some more drawings and perhaps build a cardboard version to finalize the design. Eventually, I’ll be building a 1/32 scale plastic model for use on the novella’s cover. It will be quite a challenge to paint it black and photograph it well enough to actually be seen.



Devon’s Blade Draft Two

I just completed my read through for Draft Two of the Devon’s Blade novella. All issues raised by the Beta Readers have been addressed. It reads fast and the story is pretty tight. No wasted space, as usual for my first drafts. I’ll go back through it again before handing it over to my editor, but right now, I’m pretty happy with it. If you like pilot stories this one is pretty good. Nothing deep, just a great tale of pilots jousting in the skies.

Screenshot from 2015-08-07 12:01:51

It features my all purpose hero of the Starforgers Trilogy, Devon Ardel and is set during the time between Starforgers and The Rising. At just shy of 200 pages long, you can easily read it in a couple of hours. It was really fun to write and after having just read it, I’d say the same applies to reading it.

I upgraded to the latest version of Libre Office during this draft and I have to say, I love the new changes in edit mode. Especially when you turn on the non-printing characters which are now blue and easily stand out against the black font. Shinny. I also like the smaller footprint of the Navigator bar to the right. When you go back to regular mode, you no longer see the blue rectangle that defines the writing area. I really like that too. Hopefully my epub converter plugin works, I have yet to try that.

Screenshot from 2015-08-07 12:07:25


Well, back to my vacation. I’ll post again soon.

Progress Report on Counterattack

I didn’t get to write every day this week as I kept a few lunch dates with coworkers. Sometimes the writing that I did get to do went smoothly and sometimes I struggled to imagine the scene I was writing, and at least once I went completely off course. Today’s writing session will be about getting back on course and wrapping up the first chapter. I’m sitting around 4K words at the moment but that will get chopped by about a thousand, I’m guessing. I don’t really want to add another chapter, so clipping and sanding is in order until it fits.

Then it’s onto chapter 2 next week. Bring on the bad guys! It should be fun to get back into the head of Empress Nykostra and see how she is running the war. Having just wrote a complete novel about the child empress that pretty much sets up Counterattack, I’m looking forward to continuing her story. Counterattack will mark my third novel written in Plume Creator. Unless someone comments that they have done more, I’m pretty sure this is a new record for that piece of Open Source writing software. Which is cool. If you get lost in all the options of Scrivener or are outgrowing Word, do give Plume a try. It’s free and it works great on all three operating systems. Oh, and it looks flipping awesome on Ubuntu.

I’m going to try and do a Progress Report every Friday to let you know my status. Not sure if I can keep that schedule, but it might provide me some added incentive to you know, write more.




What I’ve Been Reading and Listening to Lately

I’m always reading fiction and non-fiction when not writing or modeling. Reading non-fiction for me is about improving my craft, research and getting new ideas. Show Your Work by Ausitn Kleon is about how to relate to your audience by letting them see you working on the stuff you do. A behind the scenes look at the creation of your art. That’s been easy for me when it comes to modeling. I document my builds with pictures and blog posts on this site and on Google Plus.

But showing my writing has been harder to do. You don’t want to give away plot points, but you do want to let your readers know that you are working, making progress and some of the things you deal with as a writer. I don’t like to preach about craft here, because this site is not about  how to be a fiction writer. There are plenty of sites like that around the web. This site focuses on just how I do things. If that proves useful to you, great. Otherwise, it helps give my readers a glimpse behind the curtain of being a writer.

Kleon’s book helps you think about how to show off the creative work you are doing in order to build social awareness and spread your reach. I highly recommend it to all artists and writers.

I also try and read the books that my personal friends publish whenever possible. Lately I’ve been reading Aurum, The Golden Planet by my writer buddy, Sharon Joss. Sharon recently moved away from our local writer’s group in Boise, Idaho to Oregon. So I don’t get to talk with her much these days. But she’s putting out some awesome work and Aurum is one of them.

I’ve also been sampling other genre books similar to mine that have been indie published. There are a few of them that look promising and are in my stack to be read. I also read traditionally published books but I rarely mention them here. I figure they already have the attentions of fans and don’t need the boost. Unless of course they are my absolute favorite writers. Then I’ll indulge you with their latest.

I’ve also added a few new podcasts to my phone lately, all of them concern writing. Kobo’s Podcast hosted by Mark Lefebvre. If you are a writer and you sell your wares on Kobo, this podcast is well worth the listen.

The second new program I’m listening to is The Creative Penn hosted by Joanna Penn. If you don’t know who Joanna is, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years. She’s a best selling indie author and all around great champion of writer’s everywhere. I’ve tuned in on occasion, but now her s how is in my phone and ready to listen to.

The final new show I’ve been listening to since it started is Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. Simon’s show is well executed and he brings a wide range of guests who are doing the self publishing thing in some way. A well produced and professional look at the people behind the maker revolution in books.

There are lots more podcasts that I listen too, but these I’ve recently added. Two more I’ll recommend in passing are Writing Excuses and The Self Publishing Podcast. Go and seek those out too.