Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Feb 16 2017

Price drop!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So, in anticipation of the long-delayed third book in my T-Space Carson & Roberts series (or if you prefer, the Starship Sophie series), we’re dropping the price on the e-book of the first, The Chara Talisman. Price is now $2.99, down from $4.99 (40% savings).

By the way, each of my T-Space novels is available on e-book for only $0.99 if you’ve bought the paperback version through Amazon, as part of their Match Book program.

You can start reading Chara Talisman at Amazon. One reviewer called it “A delightful mix of Indiana Jones and space opera.” Enjoy!

(The third in the series, The Eridani Convergence will be out later this year. If you’re interested in an advance review copy, let me know by replying below.)

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Jan 23 2017

Rolling into 2017.

Published by under T-Space,Writing

S-class ship
So, 2017 is well under way, and I’ve been adding stuff to the T-Space wiki. Mostly background but also some starship pictures (see right).

The publishing schedule this year includes both Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World and The Eridani Convergence, sequels in the two T-Space series out so far. (Dates when I know them, but I expect early summer and late fall.) I also hope to break my logjam with short stories (entirely my own fault, the magazines can’t publish what I don’t submit), a mix of T-Space shorts and unrelated stories.

And it being almost the end of January, I’m starting to see royalty statements coming in for last year. A big thank you to those of you who have been buying my books, and another thank you for those who have left reviews on Good Reads and especially Amazon. It all encourages me to get more stories out sooner. 😉

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Dec 31 2016

2016 – I’ve had worse

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

Speaking of reviews (see below), this seems like as good a time as any to do a “year in review” entry.

A lot of people are moaning about how awful 2016 was. (It’s worse than you thought — not only was it a leap year, meaning it was 366 days, we also get a leap second just before midnight, so it’s 366 days and one second long.)

Yes, a lot of well-loved celebrities died (as did my ex’s mom), but so did a few not-so-well-loved folks did too. Fidel Castro comes to mind, for one.

And yeah, a lot of folks griped about the results of various elections. Face it, in any presidential election there are going to be millions unhappy with the outcome, whoever wins. I’ve got no particular brief on Brexit — I left Britain long before it became part of the EU, so in some ways for me it’s just a return to the status quo ante.

But now for the good stuff.

After their first brief successes at the end of 2015, both SpaceX and Blue Origin went on to successfully launch vehicles to space and return them intact several times in 2016. SpaceX did their first, second and third successful ocean landings on their drone ship Of Course I Still Love You as well as a couple more on land. (Alas, the unfortunate cryo tank detonation in September put a damper on that for the rest of the year, the good news is that they’ve figured out the problem and will be flying again as early as before January is out. Blue Origin, while facing a much easier flight regime (they’re not trying to put something in orbit) not only had several successful landings, but they reflew the same vehicle several times. SpaceX is still working towards this, and while DC-X did it twenty-five years ago, DC-X didn’t get anywhere near space, unlike Blue Origin’s New Shepard. So, in general a very good year for reusable spacecraft.

On the exploration front, NASA’s Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in July, and has sent back some great new data on the gas giant’s atmosphere and magnetosphere. The Asteroid Sample Return mission, OSIRIS-Rex, is successfully on its way to asteroid Bennu (expected return in 2023). The James Webb Space Telescope was completed this November, and will undergo a year of testing with expected launch in 2018. And by no means least, especially considering the fiction I write, in May of 2016 the Kepler team announced 1,284 additional exoplanets found, of which at least nine are in their stars’ habitable zones. (That’s 1,284 more than the 951 already discovered by Kepler and brings the total to about 3,200.)

Also in 2016, the New Horizons probe spent most of the year (up to October) sending back the data it gathered in its fast flyby of Pluto et al. back last December. The tough little robot is now on its way to a rendezvous with Kuiper Belt Object “2014 MU69” in 2019.

So while 2016 may have sucked for some here on Earth, it’s looking good as far as us becoming a spacefaring species. Ad astra!

Cover image: Alpha Centauri: First Landing
And oh yeah, speaking of spacefaring species, this year I had another book published, Alpha Centauri: First Landing. If you’re still bummed about 2016, or even if you’re not, you may enjoy it. I promise, no mention at all is made of the events of this past year. Available from, among other places, Amazon.

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Nov 14 2016


Published by under Writing

Amazon review poster.
I don’t expect everyone to like my writing any more than I like every other author’s writing. Some I like, some I don’t, some it depends on the mood I’m in. I do try to make it clear what the reader is getting with any of my stories or novels. In the case of stories I sell to magazines, that’s mostly up to the editor — an editor won’t buy a story unless they think their subscribers will enjoy it. With the novels, that’s what cover blurbs and free samples on Amazon are for.

But whether you like it or whether you don’t, if you’ve read something of mine that’s available on Amazon (or other online bookstore), please, please leave a review. Even a short one. It helps get the message out to other potential readers, and it helps with the various algorithms that e.g. Amazon uses to link books together (as in “readers who bought X also bought Y”).

Amazon has been changing its review rules lately because of incidents of scammers buying reviews and such. I won’t do that. I write to entertain (not least myself), and an entertainer always wants to reach the largest audience possible. (But I can’t afford to give it away. Artists, copyeditors and the like expect to be paid, and it helps justify the time and effort I put into it rather than indulging in some hobby — and so I can pay other writers for the stuff I read.)

All of which is a very long-winded way of asking: if you’ve read anything of mine, please leave a review. If you haven’t … why not download a free sample from one of my books on Amazon, or one of the short stories here. Thanks!

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Nov 04 2016

Next up: The Eridani Convergence

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So, I’m 15,000 words into the sequel to The Chara Talisman and The Reticuli Deception. (No, those aren’t all NaNoWriMo-qualifying words, I got a head start.) The cover outline is done (see pic),
but the detail image awaits at least the first full draft of the text. Meanwhile, Alpha Centauri: First Landing is selling at a modest pace, and I’ve had some good comments on it.

There are a lot of separate character threads at the start of the next book, with Carson and Roberts temporarily going separate ways. Meanwhile an old friend, and an old enemy, are back in the picture. And everyone seems to be converging on a star tagged 82 Eridani…

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Oct 31 2016

Finally, Alpha Centauri: First Landing is out!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

A few posts down, when I announced The Reticuli Deception, I promised a prequel to T-Space called Alpha Centauri.   Well, the tale grew a bit in the telling (as they do), so it’s really a two-parter. The first can be read as a stand-alone, and I’m trying to do the same with the second, it’s not like the publisher artificially cleaved it twain at the midpoint.  It helps that there are two habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri system. 😉Cover image: Alpha Centauri: First Landing

Alpha Centauri: First Landing came out last week, debuting in time for MileHiCon 48, and so far it seems pretty-well received.  The sequel, Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World, will be out in 2017, but prior to that I’ve promised another Hannibal Carson/Jackie Roberts adventure, sequel to Chara and Reticuli, to be called The Eridani Convergence.   Good thing NaNoWriMo is coming up, I have novels to write!

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Jun 15 2013

Worldcon is coming…

Published by under Writing

LoneStarCon logo

It’s just over 10 weeks now until Worlcon 71, the 71st annual World Science Fiction Convention. Also known as LoneStarCon 3, it’s coming up Aug 29 through Sept 2 in San Antonio, Texas. If you’re not already a member, sign up before the end of July to be able to vote for the Hugo awards. Eligible voters can download e-copies of most of the available works (obviously not the dramatic presentations) from the LoneStarCon web site. I just downloaded mine and am reading through what I’d missed; there’s definitely some award-worthy work in there.

I’m looking forward to the con, to seeing friends I haven’t seen since last con and meeting new ones. I don’t know if I’m on any panels yet, I got my volunteer info in kind of late, but I’ll be around. I think the last (only?) time I was in San Antonio was for an International Space Development Conference (many years ago!) and had a great time.

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May 10 2013

The Reticuli Deception now in print!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Cover: The Reticuli Deception

My latest, The Reticuli Deception is now available in trade paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. The ISBN-13: is 978-0615-71102-7 if you want to support your local bookstore by ordering it through them. It can also be had in various e-book formats from the usual suspects.

This is a sequel to The Chara Talisman, and the latter has been reprinted with a few corrections and an added star map. Next up, and in progress, is a prequel to the T-Space series called Alpha Centauri, which covers the first landings.

I’d love for people to leave reviews of this — or any of my works — on Amazon, B&N, or any of the various review sites. I’m not asking for five-star reviews, just honest appraisals that will help new readers decide if my work might be for them or not (no author can please everyone). And feel free to drop feedback here too, of course. The more feedback I get, the more I write ;-)

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Aug 25 2012

New story in November Analog

Published by under Writing

The November issue of Analog has arrived (yes, I know it’s only August, that’s the magazine business for you), featuring stories by several friends of mine, including relative newcomers Gray Rinehart and Patty Jansen.
Cover, November Analog
More exciting for me personally is the appearance of “Strobe Effect”, a collaboration between me and my good friend Brad Torgersen. (May it be the first of many.) Brad was nominated for a Nebula earlier this year, and is up for a Hugo and the Campbell awards at Worldcon.

This story is based on a draft I did a long time ago, using as its gimmick something I used to joke about: if we ever discover anything that goes faster than light, it will be at some computer chip lab trying to make the things go faster. (Seriously. Light travels less than three inches in one cycle of a 4 GHz processor.) It’s nice to see it finally in print, and much improved over the original. (Part of that is unquestionably Brad’s influence, but I’ve learned a bit myself since then.)

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Apr 29 2012

Conspiracy theories

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

Readers of The Chara Talisman (and there are a bunch of you out there, thank you!) already know that the sequel, The Reticuli Deception (working title) touches on mysteries in addition to those of the millions of years ago Terraformers and the more recent Spacefarers. Namely, whether there was anything to some of the UFO contacts reported in the 1960s. Since these books are set 150 years after that, there’s some question as to whether the original Blue Book files can still be located, and they do try, although that’s a side story to the main plot. In particular, they’re curious about the Betty Hill incident, and the star map she drew. Hill star map

Sometimes, though, truth can be stranger than fiction. I’d heard that the Project Blue Book files were all transferred to the National Archives when the project was shut down in 1969 (or 1970, depending on which report you read). It’s not quite that simple. They were first transfered to the Air Force Archives at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, where they resided for about five years, although nominally available to the public. It was in 1975 that they were transferred to the National Archives, but only after redacting witness names and similar personal information. The Air Force kept a microfilm copy (also censored) for their own use.

It turns out, though, that uncensored microfilms also exist, discovered in the National Archives in 1998, and that “these rolls also contain some pages that are not on the NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] rolls” (– Curiouser and curiouser.

Eagerly I began to browse through Blue Book Archive’s list of microfilms. These are on line. Fantastic! I’d love to read the actual Betty Hill files. Pages one through four of their listings cover the pre-Blue Book projects, Sign and Grudge, as well as all the Blue Books up to 1954. The Hill contact was in 1961, I’m getting close. Page five … begins in mid-1968. Wait, what?.

So I dig a little deeper. Flip back and forth through various rolls. Search for “Betty Hill”, and find nothing relevant. Search for “Pease Air Base” (where they supposedly reported the incident) and find many interesting reports … from 1965. Ah, but what’s this? One of the first rolls has an index to all the cases. Great! Skip ahead 25 pages at a time: 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960… I’m getting close, slow down. Page 498, 16-30 April, 1960. Page 499, 1-15 May, 1962. Nineteen sixty two? What the…?

Okay, flip back and forth some more. Ha! Page 497 of the index is also 1962, page 498 must have been misfiled. Not a good sign (and at this point all the microfilm images are very faint, it’s near impossible to make out the text), but I’ll keep looking. Page 489 looks like it might be August, 1961, but the typewritten text is ghostly, and there’s an ominous hand-scrawled “missing” beside several of the cases listed. The next few pages are even less legible. (For example.)

I incline toward the sentiment “never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence,” and that’s probably what’s going on here (not, let me hasten to add, on the part of Blue Book Archive, who are doing an admirable job, but on the part of whatever bored Airman or clerk was microfilming this stuff in the first place, and other clerks who may have misfiled things). On the other hand, as Ian Fleming supposedly said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” I wonder.

For the record, I don’t really think Betty and Barney Hill were abducted by aliens. On the subject of UFOs as alien spacecraft overall, I’m a skeptical agnostic. I’ve seen enough strange things in the sky that I couldn’t identify at the time to have no doubt that plenty of people see unidentified flying objects. I think that to immediately identify them as alien spacecraft is silly. Some might indeed be, but the burden of proof is pretty high as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s also silly to say flat out that alien spacecraft are impossible. We just don’t know enough.

As far as research for The Reticuli Deception goes, I may not be learning anything new about the Hill incident or the supposed Zeta Reticuli starchart, but I am gaining a good insight as to how my characters feel when they’re looking for this stuff: frustrated.

Readers know that none of my characters take frustration well, and they tend to come up with creative solutions to it. This is gonna be fun.

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