Long Overdue Writing Update


Fans of the Corvette novella will be pleased to know that the first draft is complete and in the hands of a few select beta readers. A second draft or pass at the manuscript will occur after I get some comments from the betas. Then it’s off to the editor and copy editor and finally, it will get released. When will that last part happen, you ask? Probably in late October.

In the meantime, I’ve already started writing book 3 and the final Corvette novella. If I finish it before winter you can look for that one to be released late winter or early next year. By that time I will be well engaged in writing Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX.

The only book on the schedule for next year is XiniX but that could change. If the Corvette trilogy continues to sell well and the demand is there, I could do the first book of a second trilogy in that series probably called Destroyer. As you can guess, Captain Vance progresses to a bigger ship in that trilogy.


Corvette sales have slumped in the last month but sales of the other Star Saga books are steady as new fans make their way through the back list. I average about two thousand US dollars per month which is not too shabby for no advertising and no big publisher backing. Last month I did a reading at one of my local libraries and enjoyed hearing what other local writers were doing and meeting them to talk shop.


On the modeling side of the house or more appropriately the garage, I’m trying to finish detailing the Black Star pirate ship for the Corvette 2 and 3 covers. Another week or so of fiddling with greeblies and then I can get her primer coat applied. From there it’s a base coat of flat black and then a bit of weathering and battle damage to finish her off.

I have drawn up plans for a second corvette model, this one a bit newer in design that will be featured on the third Corvette book cover. I probably won’t light it and will knock it out as soon as the pirate ship is finished and photographed.


Summer is another scorcher here in Idaho and now the area forest fires are making the air hard to breathe. It’s my least favorite time of year in the western US. The temperatures are hovering in the high nineties and hundreds Fahrenheit.  Which means I have to do my model building in the mornings and writing in the afternoons when I’m confined to the air conditioning.

We did a short family vacation last week in McCall Idaho and had a blast. Hiking, boating and canoeing were some of the fun things we did in the local resort community.

Hope you summer is going well and I’ll check in again when I have some updates.


Adventures in Modeling – Bard Parker #6

Ever since I started watching Paul Budzik’s videos on YouTube I’ve coveted the Bard Parker #6 scalpel handle. It’s the one dentists use and he recommends it for modeling. I went out and purchased the 25A Swan Morton blades he uses and they came in the mail pretty quickly. But I was not able to get the illusive BP #6 handle. I ordered a cheapo handle so that I could at least use the blades. I didn’t really care for the scalpel over my regular X-Acto blades for most of my cutting tasks. It was awkward in my hand and too small. Much of my cutting needs were better suited to the shape of the X-Acto blades.

The Bark Parker handle is larger and much better made than the cheapo handle. So I’m looking forward to using it on my bench. Here are some images of the two scalpels together. I’ll do a follow up post after I use the new handle for a while.



Modeling Update

Just finished the primer coat on the GCU Griffin model this weekend. I still have some bits and pieces that need to be added, so will have to coat again next weekend. But you can start to see the general shape and fit of the ship now. I’ll admit that the design is a bit unconventional, but I still think it looks awesome. I originally designed this one back when I was a kid. Even built it in cardboard in almost the same scale. If you read Starstrikers, you’ll learn all about this important starship.


This new acrylic primer I’m using is much darker and bluer than the auto car body primer I was using. But it doesn’t stink near as bad.


The other side of the model for reference.


I used the whole bottle on the model, so will have to order a case of it or something. I also need to find some gloss coat and dull coat for decals. Probably use whatever I can find at Home Depot.



This is where I hid the slider switch for the internal lights. Sometimes you have to be sneaky. I didn’t plan this nice over hang, but it turned out to be the perfect spot to hide the switch. It’s starting to get warmer out in the garage studio, so eventually I’ll have to move operations inside or suspend the modeling until fall. I’ll be building smaller stuff until it cools off again. 


Spieron Starfighter Build, Part 1

This is the primary starfighter during the Starstrikers Trilogy or middle time period of my Star Saga series. It was first sketched on paper by myself probably twenty years ago. I built a cardboard model of it about a decade ago and was not completely satisfied with it, so now is the time to do it in styrene and up the scale to 1/32.


Scaling up the 1/48 card board model using PVC for the engine and a fabric stain remover cap for the engine exhaust. The seat is from the Renoke model and is just to help suss out the scale. I make a paper model blueprint to start with and then use it as a pattern to cut the more expensive styrene.


Above we see the paper model with a four sides to the fuselage. The gun will be a push-pump soap dispenser.


The engines get LED lights. I used a car wheel and a tank wheel to mount the LEDs inside the bottle cap funnels and PVC engine tube.


Above you can see the parts before gluing them together.


Next I started with the bottom of the fuselage to anchor the mount. I still had a tapped block of aluminum with two mount points on it so I didn’t have to do that part again.


The bracing for the mount is basically a bunch of plastic.


The fuselage sides when up pretty fast. The area behind the pilot is raised a bit and so is braces accordingly.


The top area is cut out, but not glued in place yet. I have to cut out the cockpit area and detail and light it before I close it up. The battery and circuit board will go in the area between and above the engines.


The nose cone for lack of a better name, was walled off at the last minute and the cone inside the tube was left inside. Not so smart. I know the nose is flat, but the original design is that way and I figured that a space fighter didn’t need a pointy nose.


Detailing inside the nose before attaching it to the main body.


Also took the time to detail the nose extension piece. This is probably an area that has had the covers removed on a regular basis, so I’m making it look like you could have it covered if needed.


You can still see the cone coming through the cylinder. Ugh. Good thing that will be covered.


My stand in 1/32 scale pilot as the cockpit comes together. Actually using the base from a resin seat behind him.


Some cockpit details coming along, including the metal Imperial Walker model that a friend donated.


The canopy frame is coming together next.


Starting to look like a Y-wing or a Snow Speeder now.


Here’s everything sitting together on the bench. She’s big!


The Martin Baker ejection seat is from an F-4 Phantom resin mold. Very detailed.


This is looking pretty cool about now. Next up: lights!

Building the GCU Sokol, Part 16

Primer and Primping

Much change on the model during the week off for the holidays. Finished the top decks and the main deck above the star drives. Also finished up the top of the gun decks. Then I finally sprayed on the Flat Gull Gray and magically transformed the model from a rainbow of parts to a battleship.

This is the upper decks and the poop deck getting the detail treatment. I really like how the back of the poop deck turned out. Just a few more details were added to it after this picture was taken.

I had to move operations inside as the weather got very, very cold this week.


This view shows the front of the main deck and the top of the gun deck. I also like the front of the mast or communications decks at the top of the model. Turned out pretty nice.

I took the model outside on a sunny day and took some pics of it against an old black sheet. The key light was a bit harsh and thus most of the details are washed out. But they are cool anyway, so there you go. Enjoy them.

Nice view of the bottom details. I wasn’t sure about the non-symmetrical greeblies, but now I really like it.


This view is of the monster coming right off your bow. Can’t wait to paint up this beast and add me some battle damage. Going to look absolutely awesome.


Moving away in this beauty pass. The main stardrive tubes will have panels when I’m done. Another detail I need to add are the port holes.


Coming right at you, guns blazing. Hard to separate the head from the body in this shot. Darn sun light, I need to make me a screen.


I love this shot. Looking pretty menacing.


This is the start of the hangar deck just aft of the poop deck. This will house a squadron of  starfighters and a shuttle craft. I’m building this one up from scratch so as to have the hangar doors open. Not going to put in the starfighters, but still want to make it interesting to look at.

I believe we are all caught up for now. Next post will be the second to last. I’ll have finished the hangar deck and covered the star drive tubes. I’ll save the final post for painting the details.




Building the GCU Sokol, Part 12

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13

Details, Details

This weekend I had enough time to detail the main port guns and the stern gun pod. I also detailed inside the main gun superstructure behind the guns. The only thing left to detail on the stern gun pod is the bottom. I also have to mount a gun turret on the top and bottom of the pod.

I’ve taken stock of my remaining gun turrets and built up all the remaining guns that I have. I could probably use some more guns, but at this moment, I only have what I have to play with.

On with the pictures.

This is what the ship looked like on Saturday morning before I got under way. A fresh cup of Joe and the last scraps of my plastic bits.

I’m not completely happy with how this turned out, so I will hold off on painting it gray with primer for now. I’ve set some precedent here with zip ties and U shaped plastic above and below the main guns. I carried the same look over to the stern gun pod. Actually, I think I started that look on the head.

This is the stern gun pod on the port side. Like my gratuitous use of naval terms? Comes in handy sometimes to describe ship details. This pod is almost finished. It needs some bottom details. That will have to come another day.

Here’s a step back to see the big picture. Looks busy to me. But then without a primer, it all looks a bit like what the TI’s used to call us on the first day of Basic Training – Rainbows.

Here we have a starship mounted on a vise for easy access to the back of the gun pods. A vise is a handy thing to have on your work bench.

This new turret housing is the top of a prescription bottle. I think I can get a few more bottles that size. Put some shields around it and it will be good to go.

Messing around with gun turret positioning. Nothing final yet. Have to think defensively for this to work right.

A final beauty shot with the head attached. She’s starting to look aggressive. All for now, thanks for looking.

Building the GCU Sokol Part 8

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Part 11 | Part 12

Boxing Weekend

This weekend most of the model was boxed up. Boxing is the process of building up the many sections of the model and giving it shape. For this model, it’s a big task. This weekend I finished boxing the keel and the head. I also started adding details to the area of the main body right behind the head.

I’ve said it before, but I dislike boxing. When you work in plastic, it usually involves lots of cutting with a blade along a metal ruler. Not my favorite activity. I usually c-clamp down the ruler and score away until I can snap the piece off. If I do much more modeling in this fashion, I will be best served in purchasing a proper cutting device.

I did make some progress on ensuring the head does not spin around on the neck cylinder. I did this by making two exterior pipes that extend from the back of the head to the main body. This was not in my original 1980 drawing, but I like it.

I used the plastic lids from some plastic boxes that screws come in for the base plates on the front of the main body. Inside these areas I added various greeblies and some cut model trees for piping. This is my favorite part, adding details. The trick is to make it look as if the parts have a purpose and are not just stuck on random. For an example of good details see – any Star Wars model. For an example of bad, see Star Crash.

That’s enough fun for this weekend. Next up I’ll box out the upper main body and start scratch-building the hangar deck.

Building the GCU Sokol Part 7

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Part 11 | Part 12

Coming Together

Spent pretty much all day in the garage building this beast Sunday. Thanks to super glue and sharp knifes, I made some decent progress. Built up the head of the starship and most of the main superstructure. The biggest parts are done, but there are more large parts that still remain.

This is the head going together. The hole for the neck was drilled out with my new variable speed hobby grinder. Can’t recommend one of those enough for scratch building models like this. That’s the grinder holding up the parts drying.

This is the damage you can do with the grinder, when you need to get those large holes bored out of the thick plastic. Nothing like burning, grinding plastic to get you going in the morning.

The main body needed some modeling putty and then a good sanding. That washer is surrounding a hole cut out for a main gun. Most of the guns are closed or covered, this one and one on the other side are open to reveal the canon barrel inside. Detail. Love it.

This is looking at the mains and the details therein. Three parts make up the nozzles; OJ bottle lid, Scotch tape center and the cap to Vitamin C tablets. There will probably be more details added later, but since I had these already built, I glued them in place.

Here’s the finished head attached to the body. The last thing I glued on was the cover on the front of the superstructure. I’m trying to get the body blocked out before the cold chases me out of the garage. I can detail the model inside.

The next thing I need to work on is figuring out how to mount it and building a jig for it to set in while I’m detailing it. Thinking of using a wooden jig that could end up being the base for the model. Always something.


One of the last frontiers in computer use for me is becoming proficient in using Blender. Blender is a program that lets you do 3D rendering and animations. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make computer models, especially useful as I really enjoy modeling in traditional mediums like plastic.

The problem has always been the complexity of the Blender program itself. Staring at all those controls you quickly feel intimidated and realize that you’re never going to be able to just feel your way around and actually create anything useful. You have to commit to learning it. Kind of like what you had to do with Photoshop and or The Gimp. Learning a program by following tutorials always takes time and effort that in this busy world is hard to justify for what arguably is just a hobby.

But now I’ve developed a business need for knowing how to render my starship designs. It will be much easier for my cover designer to incorperate 3D images into the back cover designs of my novels than for him to use images that I’ve taken of real world plastic models. So then I have to wiegh the time spent making those models in plastic versus making them in Blender.

I’m pretty sure that making them in Blender will take more time, until I become proficiant at rendering them. So I’ll probably do a bit of both. Learn the program by making some simple models and building more complex models in the real world with plastic and glue.

I have to say, I’ve always enjoyed using my hands and you know, sniffing the glue and breathing in the dust from sanding that traditional modeling has involved. It gets me off the computer and into the real world for a while. So making the transition from old school modeler to computer modeler will not be easy for me.

On the other hand, I love learning new things and as any Self Published author will tell you, that’s part of the challenge of doing things yourself. You get to learn new tools and new processes. Blender is just the latest tool in my vast tool box as a published author.

KIV-3 Starfighter Part 3

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

The KIV-3 model is nearly complete now. I’ve added a few panels using poster board and matte board, added the wing mounted guns and painted on the base coat of olive drab paint. The guns are actually wooden toothpicks and even have slightly hollowed out barrels. I used matte board to layer up wing tip pylons behind the guns.

Normally at this stage of construction I’d be pushing my fingers around inside boxes of spare plastic model pieces, looking for details to add to the outside of the model. But I have not had such hell boxes in a long, long time. So the details of this model are more subtle. More panels and clean lines than bumpy pipes and fixtures. In a way, it contrasts enough to the Alliance starfighters to make the two more believable.


The last detail to finish up is the cockpit canopy. I’m still not sure how to pull it off. I might give up and just paint it on. I think that would lend itself to the clean lines anyway. I’ve experimented with putting WWII style invasion stripes on the bottoms of the wings. Five alternating white, black lines intended to call out allied aircraft so their own forces don’t confuse them with German planes and shoot them down. My invasion stripes are set at an angle and as such break up the pattern of the wings quite nicely, which is an added benefit I had not anticipated.

Another nod to WWII aircraft are the yellow leading edge of the wings. The Japanese and British aircraft used this technique to identify their friendly aircraft, to ground troops. In this case, it just looks extra bad ass. So there.


Since I’m not in any hurry to complete the model, I may let it simmer in the wings for a while before attempting to weather it. Even ships that fight in a vacuum have some weathering. Especially if they enter atmospheres of planets. Weathering was always my favorite part of modeling. Making the vehicle look like you pulled it out of its environment.

KIV-3 Underside.

All in all this little starfighter has been a joy to build from scratch. The design is very iconic and just as cool looking today as it was nearly thirty years ago when I first sketched it out in my middle school notebooks.