Trilogy Cover Art

Over the weekend my brother put the finishing touches on the cover for the first Star Saga trilogy. As soon as I can get the time I’ll stitch books 1-3 together and put them up for sale on Kobo, Nook and Kindle. Eventually, I’ll do a boxed set that includes all six books in the Starforgers Trilogy. Which is to say you’d get the Tales From Ocherva anthology and two novellas, Devon’s Blade and The Blood Empress. Not sure on the pricing of that one yet.

Two Novellas for a Buck Each

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Both of my Sci-Fi novellas are now only .99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Devon’s Blade and The Blood Empress both feature strong, independent female characters. They are quick, exciting stories that introduce you to my Star Saga universe. Devon’s Blade is the star of the first three novels and Empress Nykostra is the main villain. Both of these stories can be read independently of the Star Saga but if you want more, get Starforgers, Book One of the series – also only .99 cents.

The Rising, Now on Kindle

It’s been kinda crazy around the household these past few weeks and I completely forgot to mention here that I released a new novel on Kindle. You can now finally get Book Two of the Star Saga – The Rising, on Kindle. It’s only $2.99 and it’s available here. If you are new to the series, you can get Book One, Starforgers on Kindle, Nook and Kobo for .99 cents or snag it free here on the blog in the column to your right. As it happens, Book 3, Counterattack will be out in April. Just as soon as I finish proofing it and we get a cover completed.

So lots of reading ahead of you if you like my fiction. For the first time all three books of the Star Saga’s first trilogy will be available. I’ll be spending some time on advertising after Counterattack launches, so be ready for that media blitz. As a reminder, the reading order for the Star Saga is as follows:

  1. Tales From Ocherva, Volume One (anthology) – Devon Ardel’s days as a Stellar Ranger.
  2. Starforgers, Book One (novel) – Devon joins the Federation Stellar Fleet and helps start a war with the Votainion Empire.
  3. Devon’s Blade (novella) – Devon is assigned to a demoralized fighter squadron on a backwater world, to help turn it into a fighting unit.
  4. The Rising, Book Two (novel) – Devon goes home on leave when her mother, the President of the Alliance is blown up by a Silicant.
  5. The Blood Empress (novella) – About the rise in power of Empress Nykostra.
  6. Counterattack, Book Three (novel) – Devon commands a starship named for her mother and must stop a massive enemy counterattack.

These six books cover the career of my heroine, Devon Ardel, from a gun slinging Ranger to a gun shooting fighter pilot to a starship captain. There are lots of reoccurring characters throughout the series from Silicants to space pirates, politicians and military personnel. The overall story is of the beginning to a millennial war between the Alliance and the Votainion Empire. There is about a 500 year gap between Book Three and Book Four, so all the characters and the situations change in the second trilogy. You can read the first book of the second trilogy, Starstrikers, but I’ve yet to write Book Five and Book Six. If you really want to know how it all ends, skip to Book Seven and read Starveyors. I know, it’s complicated.

Cover Reveal – The Rising

This past weekend the cover for my next released novel, The Rising has been finalized. I thought I’d share with you some of the final little tweaks we did to it. Big thanks to my brother Byron McConnell for once again pulling all the elements together in Photoshop and making them shine!

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The above version had five important design changes. The First was the yellow flame out the back of the top fighter. The second was the new explosion. The third was the canopy glass on the bottom fighter, and the fourth change was the motion blur added to the green fighter and the bottom fighter. The fifth design change was to punch up the brightness of the stars.

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In the above version we changed the color of the top fighter’s exhaust back to blue, realizing that the yellow didn’t fit our stated blue and orange color guide and it conflicted with the yellow of the green fighter’s leading edge. The two lower models didn’t have motion blur and looked static to me. Also the canopy glass was not yet applied to the bottom fighter. The explosion in this version was not as dynamic as the first one either. The stars are not as bright in this version and it was determined that when you looked at the cover in smaller sizes, the stars faded away entirely. 

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For the final version of the cover we merged the best of the above versions into a single version. So now you have the blue flame of the top fighter, the more dynamic explosion and the motion blur of the middle and bottom fighters. The canopy glass on the bottom fighter is reflecting the explosion which makes it more realistic.

Here’s a quick look back at how the cover evolved over time from my original sketch.

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My original sketch was inspired by model airplane box cover art from WWII which usually depicted aircraft dog fighting in dramatic fashion. I still had the series banner at the top the same way it appeared on the older coin covers.

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Above we see a finished version of the initial sketch. We decided that the title should be on one line and that we didn’t need to keep the series banner. 

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So I did this format change to make the textual parts more clean. All of the books in the Star Saga would now conform to this template for the cover title, saga title and author name.

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I added a third fighter in the foreground to help add interest and show the fighter who shot down the green fighter. Now the battle depicts the good guys winning the engagement. The bottom fighter was eventually swapped out for a better model of the Vicker’s Victory fighter. Actually, both Alliance fighters would eventually be the same newly created plastic version with more details.

You can see what was involved with building the two models used on this cover in the Model Builds section of this blog.

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Writing Bits and Pieces – Second Act Conflict

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The above scene from my WIP is a perfect example of a Second Act hurdle that your main characters must face and eventually overcome. I’ve raised the stakes a bit and made Kiloe’s fighter completely disappear right when he was supposed to be picked up by Tamia. It was a relatively simple mission, made more difficult by my First Act problems that were eventually solved by Kiloe and his partner, Tamia. The reader was all set to have them reunited and the mission be a success. But it’s only the second act. You just know things are going go awry or what would the rest of the book be about?

Indeed.

In the Second Act, the hero is given an even more difficult problem to deal with. Something that will force him or her to work harder than before to survive and overcome. It’s up to the writer to ensure that this second act builds drama and suspense by putting the hero in ever deeper water until he either learns to swim or drowns. Sometimes writers call this chasing your hero up a tree and then setting the tree on fire. Now how are you going to get out alive? Easy, giant Eagles will come to my rescue. 

I know what’s going to happen next. I know about the surprise guest appearance, I know about the harrowing fight that’s coming and I know who wins in the end.

 

Triak Starfighter Build, Part 3

All of the parts and pieces finally come together in this post. This has been a fairly quick and dirty build for me. I’ve never done a kit bashed starfighter before and in many ways it felt like cheating. I even spaced putting a mount in it and had to screw one in last minute and epoxy it. Not ideal for a working model. There are no lights and only the one mount. I do have a pilot figure, but he’s not very detailed.

Still, it does look pretty cool and I’m glad I did it for the experience. It’s not exactly like what I drew but it’s close enough to give the feeling that there are more than one kind of starfighter in the Votainion livery.

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Above you can see the body with the blaster masts in place. Simple plastic tubing was used for that. You can also see some of the scratch built details on the top and at the canopy.

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These over sized tips of the guns were from the loose pieces bin and matched the original drawing pretty good.

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Here is a side view of what I believe were some kind of rocket launcher that were wing mounted. No idea what kit they were from.

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This belly view shows the tips of the guns in place and the panel covering what I assume would be the nose landing gear.

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Here you can see the mount point, big and nasty, as well as some new details from the parts bin.

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Top side details are visible above. Not sure why I painted the blue-gray interior color here, before I sprayed on the primer. Dumb move.

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Some putty and sanding was required on the blaster canon tips.

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I like this shot above of all three Votainion starfighters from the Starstrikers Era of the Star Saga. The white one is a card board prototype of the next one I will build, the K’nat fighter.

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All ready for primer, the cockpit is masked off to preserve it’s paint job.

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Rare side view.

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Here you can see the final details of the engine area and the top. 

20151228_141713And here you can see the final details on the bottom. A few panels added and various other doodads. 

She’s finally ready for primer and then paint, next time on the blog.

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.

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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.

Writing Update, December 2015

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As 2015 winds down I thought I’d update you all on my writing adventures. 2014 and 2015 saw me producing two novels and two novellas. The novellas (Devon’s Blade and The Blood Empress) have been published as ebooks on Kindle, but the novels are still being edited. I hope to release them in January or February of 2016. The first one out will be The Rising, Book 2 of the Star Saga and the second one will be Counterattack, Book 3 of the Star Saga.

Currently both are being edited and both are waiting for cover art to be completed. Since I have to rely on others to provide me with both editing and cover art, I can only move as fast as my partners. In the mean time, I’m currently writing a novella that takes place between Starstrikers, Book 4 of the Star Saga and XiniX, Book 5. The novella is called K’nat Trap and if focuses on Kiloe and Tamia, two Starstrikers Special Forces personnel on a mission to steal a new Votainion starfighter. I’m having fun with this one which is a bit like Devon’s Blade in that it focuses on starfighters and those who pilot them. It’s just set in the middle of the Great War and takes place a year or so after Starstrikers.

After I finish that novella, I’ll be diving into XiniX which takes place a few years after Starstrikers and will star all four Alpha Team members and various other characters introduced in Starstrikers. Unlike last time, I’ll make an effort to get both K’nat Trap and XiniX out in ebook format before the end of the year.

I recently switched laptops from an aging Dell XPS 13 to a new System 76 Lemur. I’m loving the Lemur and of course, still using Ubuntu Linux as my operating system and Plume Creator as my first draft tool of choice. I’ve started transitioning away from Sigil and over to Calibre for my primary ebook editor. Sigil is no longer supported on Linux so that’s why I’m moving to Calibre. I’m still using LibreOffice 5 for my editing software.

 

 

 

Triak Starfighter Build, Part 2

As with any airplane model, you start with the insides. Here I used the wheel well turned upside down for the seat bucket. Then added details to the side walls as needed. In looking back at this build after I put the fuselage together, I completely forgot to include a block of aluminum tapped for the 1/4 20 screw mounts. I would up just super gluing a mount into a huge hole I drilled on the bottom. Completely crude, but it can be photo shopped out.

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I fixed the engine nacelles to the air intakes from the Tomcat model with simple wood screws inside. Then covered the screw heads with air intake pieces from the F-104 model. As with any scratch built model, I’m always taking greeblies and trying them in different ways until I find what looks right for each section of the model. At the time I started, I only had the purple nacelle cover so I made the other one as if the cover were removed. Then I found the red one in my parts box. Too late. I like the detail on display with the cover removed.

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Cockpit halves cemented together and then I start detailing the top of the nose and behind the pilot’s seat.

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I used yellow clear pieces here, but it will all get painted blue-gray when I’m done. Actually, these will probably be black.

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I need to cut out some sheet styrene for the back of the air intakes. I already decided to include a car radiator to cover the back of the fuselage. Why? Because what famous Star Wars ship didn’t have a radiator?

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I also used some engine parts from a large scale car model for the back end. 

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Nice shot of the radiator.

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Time to fill the major gaps with modelling putty. This was a big, multi-night task. Lots of sanding.

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I won’t know if the sanding job is good until I primer. But It should suffice for a beat up fighter plane.

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Back cover plates on and some other details added. I really like the shocks here. 

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For some reason, I’m putting lots of car parts on this fighter. It seems to work so far.

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Little by little, more greeblies find their way onto the model. This is actually one of my favorite parts of modeling. Detailing.

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More details added to the top and back of the fighter. I also added some strakes above and below where the engines are mounted. A few more details and then it will be time to do the panel scoring.

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Terrox Starfighter Build, Part 1

This Votainion starfighter has it’s roots back in the early 1980’s when it was known as the Triak. I think “Tri” referred to the middle energy thing coming out the back of the fuselage. I thought about doing that with this model but then quickly scratched it. Some of the things I liked about this fighter were the jagged lines of the fuselage and the wings. Both were retained and the twin engine design which was reproduced pretty faithfully.

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I started the build with the engines. Painted green and white from over spray on other builds are 1/2″ PVC pipes run through one inch pipe. I used the engine of a 1/32 scale F-104 Starfighter jet for the gap between the one inch pipes. On the ends of the engines I put some PVC connectors for the exhausts.

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Below you see I decided to cut the F-104 engine in half and stick to the one inch PVC for the covered parts of the engines. You can also see the beginnings of the cockpit, starting with an old get pilot sitting on a gas tank. Heh. I also have a paper cut out of the wing for scale.

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Below I used more paper to flesh out the cockpit, fuselage and a gun idea. The cockpit is closer to what I had originally drawn. It’s been reborn for the K’nat fighter.

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Here we have the two primary starfighters for the middle trilogy of the Star Saga. The Alliance Spieron on the left and the Terrox on the right. These are the Swift and KIV-3 for the middle of the war. Man the Spieron’s nose is huge. Like, Klinger large.

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After cutting up some plastic and positioning the cockpit I start building the mounting bracket for the aluminum block used for the mount. I wrapped plastic around the 1/2 inch tube to center it inside the one inch tube. You can see it sticking out in the image below. The cockpit is from a Tamiya F-14 Tomcat 1/32 scale.

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Here I use camera tape to hold together the plastic so I can see the angles I’m dealing with. They are quite unique.

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But that’s what I like about this model, it is all kinds of unique and different. It also has some call backs to familiar starfighters from Hollywood. Such as the Y-Wing from Star Wars and the Cylon Interceptor from the original Battlestar Galactica.

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Here’s a look at the tail end. I still haven’t taken glue to it yet, but you can start to see the final shape a bit clearer. 

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Here’s a close up of the cockpit details. I used a third party ejection seat from an F-4 Phantom in 1/32 scale. The top piece there is from the F-104 kit.

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Next up we’ll start gluing things down and moving forward on the details.