Inspirations – Marty Robbins

A few years ago I wrote a bunch of short stories about a Stellar Ranger company stationed on a small, desert world named Ocherva. Those stories eventually culminated in book one of the Star Saga – Starforgers. The western style hero of my stories was a blonde woman named Devon Ardel. Devon went on to become the central character in the first three Star Saga novels and a huge reader favorite.

But she was born from a long and masculine tradition of the American cowboy and more specifically the Texas Rangers. Pictured above are some actual Rangers posing with their weapons. Pretty much the quintessential western bad asses. So I created the Stellar Rangers in their image. But in my research about the west and lawmen I came across a 1950’s album called Gunfighter Ballads by Marty Robbins.

I loved the gunslinger pose Robbins did for the album cover and specifically I liked the flat brimmed hat he wore. That became the look of my my Stellar Rangers. As I listened to the album I quickly became a fan of Marty’s music. Some of my short stories make references to songs on that album that probably only a Marty Robbins fan would pick up on.

I’m not a fan of today’s Country music but I really enjoy these Western songs from the 1950’s. If you’ve never listened to this album you owe it to yourself to give it a spin. Great stuff and great musical story telling by Marty Robbins.


Two Novellas for a Buck Each

Devons Blade Cover_ReadersFavoriteFiveStars_MedSize    Starforgers_Cover_Small

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.

3-D KiV-1 Model

My son Spencer is getting real good at using Blender. He’s been iterating through models of the KiV-1 from my Star Saga Starforgers Trilogy. You might remember the plastic models I did for my book covers. He’s taken an earlier version of the KiV, the KiV-1 which has more square wings and built it in Blender. Here are some screenshots of his model. Couldn’t be more proud of him.

Kiv 1 everything but wings

Above he’s removed the wings so you can see the fins.

Kiv 1 everything

Above is the whole model from underneath, complete with landing gear doors.

Kiv 1 body with fins

Below are the strakes under the conical nose. He’s doing all the details I had on my old model

Kiv 1 Fins with body

I’d show you the card board model that he’s using as a reference, but his Blender model is sooooo much better! Calling ILM, need some modelers for Star Wars Episode 9?

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.

Ebook Creation


This week work on the WIP has been suspended until I can finish making the ebook of The Rising for my Newsletter subscribers. It’s nearly complete, so only a few days will be spent polishing it up. This is a special release that will only be available to the subscribers. It is not the final release of the book. That will happen later this year. So if you are a subscriber, enjoy this sneak peek at the ebook and please inform me if you find errors.

When I make an ebook I use Sigil. This time around I converted my manuscript to html using LibreOffice and then sucked that into Calibre to make the ebook. After all that, I loaded the epub into Sigil and added all the other pages required for an ebook. Experimenting with workflow is just part of the job when you do things yourself. In Sigil I ensure the epub has all the pages that my other ebooks have for consistency.  For the reader, once they upload it into their reader, The Rising should match all the other books in the series. There will be a few new things in the title though, noting that it’s book 2 of the Star Saga.


The Blood Empress Writing Update

It’s been a while since I posted about my WIP. I’m about 65% finished with the first draft for a novella titled The Blood Empress. It’s about the young woman who leads the Votainion Empire to war with the Alliance. This novella takes place right after the events in Book 2, The Rising. That novel will be out early next year and followed closely by The Blood Empress.

Initially I was only going to write Books 1-3 in the first trilogy of the Star Saga. The so called, First Generation trilogy of a nine book saga. But then I started realizing that there was an opportunity to fill in the gaps between the books and so I decided to write two novellas. One in between Book’s 1 and 2 and one in between Books 2 and 3. So as a reader you’re going to get five books instead of three, all set in the same time period of the Star Saga. Oh, and you also have a bunch of short stories set before the war, about Devon and the Silicants. That’s the anthology, Tales From Ocherva, Volume One.

By the time I finish all of that, I’ll be ready for a break. In all likelihood I’ll write something completely different. Either another Mystery or another SF book not related to the Star Saga or maybe a Vampire tale. Eventually I’ll come back to the Star Saga and start working on the remaining two books of the middle trilogy and a couple of novellas set in that time period.

Getting back to the WIP, I’ve recently gone off the outline in Act Three and now I’m writing as a Pantser for the last two acts. The good news about all that is that because it’s a smaller story, I can keep all the plot elements and some scenes in my head without a serious outline. Every time I sit down at lunch to write, I walk away with another thousand words on it. So the momentum is still there and building. My goal is to finish this first draft by the end of the year. That way I can start 2014 with revising both Book 2 The Rising and the novella, The Blood Empress.

Oh and here’s the latest cover idea for the novella. Again, just a thumbnail, but I like where it’s going.




Starforgers Free on Kobo


You read that right. You can now get the first Star Saga ebook, Starforgers for FREE on Kobo. Free as in free beer, and you can pull it down from this website for free, as in free speech. You just won’t get it in epub format. The Free version you download from this site is in plain text. Not sure how long this will last, so you might want to download it sooner than later.

PS  You can also get the text of all my books here on this website. Because that’s the way I roll.

PPS  Anyone know how to tell if you’ve given away any ebooks on Kobo? I don’t see a column for that free downloads. Probably because nobody has taken advantage of this yet. Maybe I should try it on my Kobo app.


Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward

I was moving right along on my latest novel when suddenly the brakes came on and the next thing I knew I had lost about four thousand words. Reading books on plot and structure and some heart-to-heart chats with a writer friend convinced me that whole sections needed to be sucked out of the novel and thrown into the next book. Those sections concerned the Votainion Empress Nykostra and were perfectly fine in the next book, but out of place in this book.

So Starforgers Book 2, The Rising is going to just be about how the new Alliance deals with the Silicant threat and internal strife. Before you can gear up and fight your enemy, you have to clean house. The Rising is about the house cleaning needed before the war can really get going. This means it’s back to the drawing board for me. I’m restructuring the second half of this book before I can continue writing.

The upshot of all this is that I probably won’t get the book out before next year. This will be the first time in like five years that I have not published a new book in the fall. I don’t have millions of fans waiting for me, so I probably won’t hear a peep out of anyone. But the professional side of me hates to miss deadlines. Even self imposed ones. But this is also a part of the learning process that all writers go through. Time spent getting my outline in order now, means I can write faster down the line.

I just finished reading the Save The Cat book about Screenplays and the author talks about using a cork board and index cards to lay out your story. Brooks advocates the same approach for novels. I’ll be building my Board this weekend for Book 2 and seeing where I need to tighten things up now that I have an entire plot thread yanked out of the book. I also need to focus the book more on the hero and the true villain of the book. Who until this point was largely unseen. After the book is published, I’ll do a spoiler filled post about what exactly happened. It should prove useful to my fellow writers.

Lastly, Book 2 now has a cover thumbnail! You’ve probably already noticed it up there at the top of the post. I don’t claim to be an artist, but I think you can see where we’re going with it. Exciting WWII era model airplane box art is the inspiration for this cover. The Starforgers coin will go to the back cover. Since we’re doing battle scenes on the front now, things are getting more dynamic and exciting. Hopefully I’ll lure in some new readers with this new cover.

Before you ask, yes, I’ll be building new models to be featured in this art and they’ll be doctored up by my brother in Photoshop. The effect will be more like a scene from a space opera movie than the CG inspired coins. I’ll start up a blog page for the model build for this cover soon. So stay tuned if scratch building starship models is your thing.

Starveyors Paperback Update

Thought I’d take a moment and update you on the Starveyors paperback. I should be receiving the final paper proof of the book this week. After one last going over it should go on sale sometime next week. This will be the third Star Saga book available in print. So those of you who love paperbacks, now is your chance to own them all.

The above wrap around cover art is nearly final. There is a capitalization offense in the back cover blurb. Can you find it?

There is one final novel left to convert to paperback, but I just don’t have the bandwidth to work on it yet. That would be Tyrmia. It requires an extensive edit and its a very long book, meaning it won’t be selling for less than ten dollars like the other four books I’ve written. Given that I’ve sold a grand total of four paperbacks to this date, there is absolutely no reason to rush any more of my books into print.

June is turning out to be a dismal month in sales for me. Not entirely unexpected given that I don’t advertise or send out review copies of my work. But it would be a hoot if I make it through the month with absolutely no Amazon sales. It would be the first time that has happened in about three years.

Some writers would be mortified by that but fortunately I have a very good day job and don’t rely on my writing to make a living. So basically I don’t care about sales much. At least not yet. Right now all I care about is getting at least one book out each year for the next couple of years. I’d like to get the second and third Star Saga novels out and then I’ll probably write something different. I’ve been in the same universe for three years now and I’d like a change of pace.

There’s another SF book that I would like to write that’s not set in the Star Saga universe. I may finally write that book. Or I could go back to Mystery and write the second Joshua Jones novel. Either one would be a break and would be keep me writing and learning. Which at this pre-discovered time, is just what I need.

Weekend Update 16 June 2013

In an unusually rare moment for me, I actually got in several hours of writing time this weekend. I used the time not to work on word count, but to finish the outline for my WIP. I’m not sure how good the outline is, but I know it will change as I write so it doesn’t have to be spot on. Just close enough to keep me going once I start up again. Hopefully this week I can get the word count back on track and get this book moving again.

I don’t have any specific time based goals other than I’d like to get the ebook out this year. For that to happen I need to finish this draft by the end of summer. When you have a day job and a family it’s often difficult to judge how long a first draft will take you. But a month and a half for 2/3’s of a draft is a very short amount of time. So that will probably slip to September.

In other news, I saw the Man of Steel movie with my oldest on Sunday. It was good overall, although I feel it could have been about a half hour shorter if they cut out all the gratuitous building destroying. Also, I don’t recall Superman killing this much before. Perhaps my memory is going on comic book lore. But overall, I really enjoyed it.

Now we’re looking forward to the Lone Ranger movie and the Monsters University movie.

I’m coming down to the last third of The Help novel. Reading it primarily to understand the craft mechanics of the book, but finding that I’m enjoying the story along the way. Go figure. Anyway, very interesting how she writes from three points of view and then switched to omnipresent. Lots to learn here for newbie writers about craft on this book. I need to get it in paperback soon.

Continuing to watch my favorite TV shows on Netflix. I don’t have the time to binge watch, so I catch an episode when I can. This weekend I watched episode 3 of House of Cards and 4 of Longmire and I think 4 of Sherlock. All excellent. I’ve literally tuned out TV in the last half decade. Kids will do that to you. It’s interesting to me how the best dramas appear to be on cable or Netflix now. When will that make a shift to YouTube?

All for now. Big baseball tournament this week here in East Boise, so lots of my time not at work will be at the ball fields. That’s my  son above, at bat this weekend over in Meridian for the Dairy Days tournament.