I’ve been thinking a lot about human lifespans and how generations interact over time. I blame Strauss and Howe and their book – The Fourth Turning. For a quick video summary, watch this YouTube. If you’re writing Epic Fantasy or Space Opera or Historical Fiction, it’s worth a read to help you understand your craft. If you’re a human being, it should be mandatory reading to help you understand your place in history.
I’m just getting started with the final trilogy of what I call the Starship Series. It’s three trilogies set during the starship career of one man. Each trilogy is named after the class of starship he’s commanding or serving on at different points in his career/life. In Corvette, he’s just starting out on his career and in Destroyer, he’s midway through it and by the final trilogy – Explorer, he’s the old wise man teaching a new generation what he has learned.
This past week I’ve created a rough, four part outline of the first Explorer’s book. I now understand where the story is going and how it should get there. I know how my hero will react and how the new, young crew of the ship he’s on, will ignore him, fight him and eventually listen to him in the end. They will need to learn the lessons he is teaching them, because they are about to face the greatest war in human history. A war that will last a millennium and define the character of the sentient species in the galaxy.
I’ve been having a hard time getting going on writing the first book of the Explorer Trilogy. Part of that is due to the pandemic, just like everyone else, it’s affected my creativity. Just today, I realized that as far as my story goes, I’ve been overlooking some basic world building. This has caused me to throttle back on the writing and do more research.
The Explorers are a civilian run exploration and discovery organization kind of like a NOAA ship. So there are some officers but most of the crew and passengers are scientists and grad students and researchers. So now I’m working out the structure of the Explorer Corps. What they do, who funds them and what the command structure looks like.
I don’t expect this will take long to make and then I can jump back into the writing.
Above is the SS Bourke on my desk. It’s modeled after a ship like the NOAASRonald H. Brown pictured below. Of course, the Bourke is a deep-space ship, not a blue-water ship. But they have similar crew and passenger specs and overall mission.
This week I finally got around to launching the last two Destroyer trilogy novellas as ebooks. They are now available just about wherever you buy ebooks. I’m currently working on paperback versions of all three books.
Looking forward, over that massive air scoop on my hood, not into my rear-view mirror.
I’ve always had better luck in odd numbered years. I was born, graduated HS, got married, and enjoyed my best book sales in odd numbered years. So I’m optimistic that with a new administration and a vaccine, 2021 can only be better, not worse than 2020. I’d like to start that trend by getting a day job!
I plan on releasing at least two books this year, completing the middle trilogy of the Starship Series. Next up is Destroyer: The Mutineers and hopefully by summer – Destroyer: Letting Go. Meanwhile, I’ll start writing the final trilogy and hopefully get through at least two of them before the end of the year.
I’ve already built the models needed for the Starship Series book covers, so my modeling hobby may continue to be somewhat dormant over the winter months. Warmer temps in my garage could lead to the continuation of the Franklin model. I’d like to finish it up for a cover redo of my first novel, Starstrikers. Below are the latest pictures taken of that model under construction.
Today we eat pork and black eyed peas and look forward to a time when we can let go of our masks and shake hands with strangers and hug our friends in person again. Happy New Years Day, 2021!
Every author has at least a few hits and maybe a few unknown gems, waiting to be discovered by readers. Below you’ll find my hits and my sleepers.
Destroyer is the latest novella about Captain Vance and the crew of the Corvette novella. It’s the start of a new trilogy and a wild adventure on the jungle world of Declo. Devon’s Blade is my ode to the Fighter Pilot. Pilot Devon Ardel arrives on a water world to take over a fighter squadron beset by a poor combat record. She struggles to turn the unit into a deadly force as they face the deadliest new starfighter from the Votainion Empire. Starforgers is the start of the Great War and the first book in the Star Saga. It’s an action packed Space Opera with terrific characters and epic action.
My sleeper books are two great stand alone stories that flesh out plot threads from the main Star Saga series. The Blood Empress is how Empress Nykostra rose to power and launched the Votainion Empire on a collision course with the Federation. K’Nat Trap is set just after Starstrikers and features Kiloe’s efforts to discover the secrets of a new enemy starfighter. Great combat action with plenty of Pew, Pew.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about how covers evolve using my latest novella. The covers for my Star Saga are usually designed by me and executed by my graphic designer brother. This is the most thought out series of novellas we’ve done since the original Star Saga coin books.
The color schemes for each book within the trilogies is: Blue, Gray, Orange. The Corvette trilogy used lighter colors for the titles: Light Blue, Gray and Orange. The Destroyer trilogy uses darker shades: Dark Blue, Black and Dark Red. The Explorer trilogy will use slightly brighter colors to signify coming back to service: Blue, Darker Gray and Red.
It all starts with a few thumbnail sketches and a search for the perfect background. Below is the sketch I made for Declo Demons. I imagined a darker, jungle planet and a smaller Truxtun streaking downward like a meteorite.
I found a blue planet shot and tried to make a demo cover with Gimp. It just didn’t have any motion or interest. I used a generic photo of the ship model that was not lit properly.
Not happy with this version, I found what was to become the perfect background image and then did a proper photographic session with the model, to closely match the original sketch. I didn’t have the proper font for the title, but the darker tone does come through. From this, Byron was able to make what became the final cover.
He added engine exhaust, navigation lights, porthole lights and proper fonts. The final product turned out exactly how I originally envisioned it when I sketched it out.
I hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes of what goes into the cover art of my books. You can download the eBook version of Declo Demons wherever they are sold. A paperback version will hopefully be available before the end of the year.
You can now purchase the latest eBook in the Starship Series featuring Captain Vance and his crew from the Corvette Trilogy. DESTROYER: Declo Demons is only $2.99 on just about every eBook platform available.
Captain Vance and his crew have been in the remote Ostrov system for years looking for the fugitive, Trin Lestor. Now they’ve come to Declo, a planet with frozen mountain top villages and humid jungle valleys to look for Spinnaker, Lestor’s First Mate. To find him, they must charter a riverboat that’s captained by a cantankerous alien named Eccers and travel downstream to the Land Of No Return. Declo is a harsh world, and it will leave a lasting toll on Vance and his crew, provided they make it out alive.
This novella has been a long time coming. It is the first book of the middle trilogy. Vance and his crew are in the very remote Ostrov system, looking for Trin Lestor and her pirates. Expect high adventure, and the unexpected for this series. Vance and his crew will be tested hard during this search. Dark days are ahead. I hope you weather the storms with me and complete this middle trilogy.
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.
As I begin to transition my IT skills into a more technical writing focus, I have begun to learn new tools and methods to document processes. I have decided to include this new learning in the makeup of this website by including a behind the scenes look into what it takes to write a Sci-Fi series.
If you are so inclined, you can follow along as I publish new documents to this corner of the website that I’m calling the Star Saga Universe. All the documents there are written in Markup and published to a static MkDocs website. The entire site is housed in a public Github account – https://github.com/KenMcConnell/star-saga. If you just want to read what’s published, you can access it here -> http://star-saga.ken-mcconnell.com.
This new area of the site lets me expound upon what inspired me to write the Star Saga and how I decided to structure it the way I did. This information is both useful to aspiring writers and interested fans. You can also get some useful graphics describing the series and get a look how the author imagined some of the main characters.
It’s a work in progress, so many pages are updated and added on a daily basis right now. Eventually, I will slow down as I get most of the framework of the site constructed. I hope you’ll join me in exploring a unique behind the scenes look at the Star Saga.