selenite0: (Bujold--book is an event)
The Torchship Trilogy is complete.

Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand—her wits, her ship, her mate.
selenite0: (shiny)
I'm going to be a panelist at Fencon, this weekend (9/23-25) in DFW.

Here's my schedule:

Manufacturing the Future
Friday 3:00 PM Trinity VI

Space LEGOs: Modular Design of Space Systems
Friday 4:00 PM Trinity VI

Autographs (I'll have copies to sell)
Friday 5:00 PM Dealer's Room

We Don't Need No Stinking Rockets!
Friday 6:00 PM Chinaberry

I May Be Synthetic, But I'm Not Stupid
Saturday 10:00 AM Chinaberry

Bionic BORG on the Starboard Bow!: Merging Humans with Technology
Saturday 12:00 PM Trinity VII

Zombie Survival Tips
Saturday 1:00 PM Trinity VII

Commercial Space: A Wellness Checkup
Saturday 3:00 PM Chinaberry

Reading
Saturday 6:00 PM Pecan

Anybody Home? - SETI and the Fermi Paradox
Sunday 11:00 AM Trinity VI

You Ain't Seen Nuthin Yet: The Future of Computers and Computing
Sunday 1:00 PM Chinaberry

Risks and Rewards of Replication
Sunday 2:00 PM Chinaberry
selenite0: (clear)
Torchship Pilot, the sequel to Torchship, is available on Amazon. The audiobook edition is in production.



WAR IS BAD FOR BUSINESS: The crew of the freighter Fives Full want to enjoy the profits of their dangerous voyage, but when war breaks out they're pressed into service for missions a warship can't do. Winning the war demands pilot Michigan Long act ruthlessly . . . and may cost her her conscience and her marriage.
selenite0: (Future Worth Fighting For3)
My second novel, Torchship Pilot, is about to go live on Amazon. Then I'll make a real post about it. This is a placeholder so I can link the cover image.

selenite0: (Bujold--book is an event)

My second book is Torchship Pilot. [livejournal.com profile] telophase is supplying a lovely cover as seen above. The book will be out on 8/30, God, [livejournal.com profile] telophase, and Amazon willing.
selenite0: (tell me a story)
If you're looking for some old-fashioned pulp adventure stories, you should check out the Cirsova Kickstarter. I liked issue one, there were a bunch of good stories in it.

But Issue Two will be my favorite . . . because it has a story of mine in it. "Squire Errant" is my first semi-pro sale. "A young squire must step up to the challenge and teach a village to defend against and hunt down the monster that terrorizes the countryside and killed his master."
selenite0: (Bujold--book is an event)
I'll be appearing on two upcoming podcasts.

Tuesday evening (5:30 PDT) I'll be on Krypton Radio's Event Horizon show. My lovely muse and narrator Laura will be joining me to talk about books, rockets, and working together as a couple on creative projects.
http://kryptonradio.com/the-event-horizon/

Sunday evening (7:30 EDT) the Catholic Geeks have invited me to talk rocketry. I'll discuss SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other people trying to change how we get to space.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/webuiltthatnetwork

I'm honored to announce that I won the first Planetary Award for Best Novel. I'm delighted that the voters thought Torchship was the best new book they'd read all year.
https://planetarydefensecommand.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/planetary-awards-and-dragon-awards/

Torchship

Dec. 15th, 2015 12:51 am
selenite0: (tell me a story)
My novel Torchship is now available on Amazon, both ebook and paper. The audiobook edition will be available in January.
A captain who’ll take any job if there’s enough money in it.

A pilot with an agenda of her own.

And a mechanic with an eye on the pilot.

The crew of the Fives Full are just trying to make enough money to keep themselves in the black while avoiding the attention of a government so paranoid it’s repealed Moore’s Law. They’re not looking for adventure in the stars . . . but they’re not going to back down just because something got in their way.

Cover of Torchship
selenite0: (Beware the Engineer)
I've been experimenting with various 3D graphics programs searching for one that would let me make models of the spaceship from my novel. My instinct was to look for CAD software, since that's what I have experience with. But my employers paid for that software. The typical free sample version would only last a month and/or have restrictions about using my output commercially.

So I looked at freeware options. FreeCAD is powerful but the documentation lags behind the code too much for me to get anywhere with it. I'm too old and cranky to spend hours fiddling with each option to see how it works. Some cheaper commercial 3D graphics software tempted me but I'd get a little bit in and snarl "Powerpoint handles that better!" before closing it forever.

Then I found Blender. Powerful software. There's great tutorials out there. Katsbits were the best I found (much better than a tutorial linked from the main site which had me telling [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly "This is not a tutorial, this is a final exam"). An evening of going through parts of two tutorials let me make a rough model of my ship in action. "Action" defined as hauling up a cargo container with the crane--it's a freighter.

FF blender model
selenite0: (anvil)
A joke I've made about writing is that somebody should attempt doing a story entirely in second person future tense. Today I realized that it's been done, I read the book, and I liked it. It was a kids book: You Will Go To the Moon. Arguably laid the foundation for my early career goals.

Now somebody needs to try that for an adult book.

On Chapters

Jan. 7th, 2015 01:20 pm
selenite0: (tell me a story)
"Life doesn't happen in chapters -- at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn't write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children's books ("I'll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep") but I'm blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults." - Terry Pratchett
selenite0: (can't take2)
Hi, folks.

I've completed a first draft of my space opera novel, Torchship. I'm looking for a few people to give it a read and give me feedback on how well it works--does the plot make sense, are the characters real, and so on (finding typos is appreciated but not what I'm worried about right now). The key response I need is if you didn't finish it, where did you stop? I can supply most ebook formats.

Blurb:

A captain who'll take any job if there's enough money in it. A pilot with an agenda of her own. And a mechanic with an eye on the pilot. The crew of the Fives Full are trying to make enough money to keep themselves in the black while avoiding the attention of a government so paranoid it's repealed Moore's Law. They're not looking for adventure in the stars . . . but they're not going to back down just because something got in their way.

If you're interested, please leave a comment with your email and preferred format. Thanks!
selenite0: (tell me a story)
My space opera novel is picking up speed, a combination of having more time to write over the holidays and rushing to the end. 79,878 words as of today. Which is a bit short, actually. The remainder of the outline will get me another 5k words and Baen wants 100k or longer (this, seriously, is something that needs to go to Baen first). I have an idea for a subplot that's totally unconnected to the main plot but would set some stuff up for the sequel. That would probably only get me another 5k.

Well, I'll get the zero draft done and look it over. Some parts may cry out for unpacking. Or for chopping, in which case being 10k short is the least of my problems.

Meanwhile I keep having scenes from a portal fantasy popping up in my head. I'll write those out to get me a little time to get perspective on the zero draft. Then I'll see if it's actually going to become something or just be scrap lumber.

In other news James (no longer Jamie) received his first computer for a combo birthday/Christmas present. Today after working on his pinewood derby car I showed him how to use Wordpad. He's starting a fantasy story. The opening paragraph I saw over his shoulder was the classic backstory dump beloved of beginning fantasy writers. I'm very proud.
selenite0: (Bujold--book is an event)
Freighter Captain by Max Hardberger
When retired captains sat around drinking and swapping sea stories, Max noticed he always had the topper for Worst Ship, Worst Port, and Worst Owner. Then he noticed they were all about the same few cruises and decided to write it up. This is a view of the bottom end of the shipping industry, a senile tramp freighter hauling trash to Haiti. Max tells it well and made me enjoy the tales of fixing leaking hulls, fending off corrupt port officials, and talking unpaid crew into not jumping ship.

Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George
George took a tour on a container ship to see how this massive business works. The answer is "too smoothly to be dramatic," but she looks into the history of shipping to bring more exciting moments in. The travails of merchant seamen in WWII are well worth reading.

Lights in the Deep by Brad R. Torgersen
A collection of short stories from a new author. Some of them are solid hard science fiction (okay, I caught some errors, but I don't think anyone who didn't do astrodynamics for a living would) and the whole set are fun stories. Torgersen lets his characters have happy endings even when the disasters going on are severe enough that "happy" is a relative term. I prefer hope to despair and enjoyed these.

Captain's Share by Nathan Lowell
Latest (print) publication in the "Quarter Share" series. Fun slice-of-life space opera. The drama level is higher than in the earlier books, but not as nasty as in Double Share. Our hero turns a "leper colony" ship into a well-performing organization by applying common sense and discovering that his subordinates are actually just misunderstood.

America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus
An excellent take on the country's current troubles with a set of solid recommendations for how to fix it. I gave this a review when I first read it.

The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure by Kevin D. Williamson
An entertaining write-up of the on-going collapse of centralized government and explanation of how decentralized systems can do a better job. My review focused on the lack of suggestions for how to get from A to B.

Hard Magic, Spellbound, Warbound (The Grimnoir Chronicles) by Larry Correia
A self-contained fantasy trilogy. That's an impressive rarity by itself these days. It's actually closer to alternate history. In this case the "divergence point" is the appearance of magical abilities among humans in the 19th century. This has had all sorts of effects, including boosting Japan to superpower status thanks to its brutally effective use of talents. The story is set in the 1930s and our heros are a quiet conspiracy opposing evil magic users. Over the course of the trilogy they find out where magic came from, why that's a problem, and . . . drama.

Monster Hunter International / Vendetta / Alpha by Larry Correia
I'd originally bounced off MHI as "Buffy with guns." I liked the Grimnoir books enough to go back and give it another try. I also wanted to find out what was behind some of the in-jokes on the MHI challenge coin kickstarter. Not as deep as Grimnoir, but a very fun romp. I'll be picking up book four soon, and Correia's working on book five.

A Few Good Men by Sarah Hoyt
Hoyt's Darkship Thieves' series is a fun ride in a future history that has had feudal overlords take over the Earth in the wake of a nasty war, with a single free community hiding out on an asteroid. Now they've recontacted each other which is shaking things up on both sides. This book focuses on Earth, where a visit from some spacers kicked loose some stones that are becoming an avalanche. A bloody revolution is beginning against the overlords. Hoyt doesn't shy away from some of the nasty problems. How a new world is going to be built on the ruins is still an open question.

The Virginia Edition: A Sample of the Series by Robert Heinlein
I love Heinlein's work, but even if I had $2000 to spare I'm not sure where I'd put a leatherbound copy of his complete works. What I do want to have is e-versions of the previously unpublished material in the collection: letters, screenplays, and more. Hopefully they'll share that when the hardcopies are all sold.

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller
I've been leaving out books that I didn't finish, but this one is an exception. Miller has a bunch of interesting ideas but he's too prone to "divide by zero" errors. Sure, if developing a self-replicating nanotech assembler or a smarter-than-human artificial intelligence is instant and free there'll be all sorts of bizzare consequences. But the Singularity isn'g going to repeal the laws of thermodynamics, and businessmen won't risk blowing up the world to avoid a utopia that will profit their competitors as much as their investors. I've been tempted to write a lengthy rebuttal but instead I'm focusing on finishing my novel-in-progress.

Salamander by David D. Friedman
A short fantasy novel. I enjoyed the heck out of the heros wrestling with the laws of their magic system to discover how to create great effects. Non-engineers might not be as big fans.

Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo
Apocalypse as a rebuttal. Ringo hates zombie stories for their violations of thermodynamics and biology. So, of course, he had to explain how it should be done right. Add in his worries about Moore's Law of Mad Scientists leading to bioengineered plagues and we get the Muse seizing his brain and forcing him to crank out a trilogy in less time than it takes to read three of GRRM's books. The first book has our heros fleeing the spreading disaster to hide out on a boat at sea. Once the danger fades civilization has to be rebuilt, and they'll have to step up and lead the effort. Step one: getting rid of those lingering mobs of zombies. Step two: keeping emaciated survivors alive. Step three: some organization . . . I'm looking forward to books two and three, which Baen is bringing out in rapid succession, undoubtedly to the dismay of other authors who were originally scheduled for those slots.

I've been reading various writing-advice books as I work on my novel. I've actually found some useful:

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland
Focuses on making your story powerful rather than merely competent. I'm not worried about getting Hollywood's attention, but I do want to make my readers happy. Farland provoked me to scrap my opening scene and replace it with something completely different.

May You Write Interesting Books by Sarah A. Hoyt
How to keep your readers from getting bored. I think I'm doing pretty well on this front in my writing--and this one was much less boring than most of the advice books I've tried out--but I suspect I'll be taking another pass through this one after I've finished my zero draft.

Writing Excuses Podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler
Not a book, but I picked up the seasons 1-5 disk at Worldcon after they won the Hugo. It turns out the car leg of my commute is just long enough to fit an episode in. I've also been marathoning episodes when driving to Austin, College Station, or Guard training. So I'm close to the end of Season Five already. Lots of good stuff in here. The biggest help is probably that it keeps me in a writing headspace so much of the time.

Not mentioned: lots of re-reads, various books I didn't finish or found unhelpful, and a whole lot of Kindle sample chapters.
selenite0: (Future Worth Fighting For3)
This would be a good year for me to try Nanowrimo. I'm actually doing some serious writing. I'm close to the 50,000 word mark on a space opera novel I started in January. So I could follow [livejournal.com profile] ursulav's footsteps and do a Nanofimo (Novel finishing) to blitz it. I've got a solid outline to the end, and one key end scene is written because the Muse was too enthralled with adding details to it to let me write the next one in sequence.

Of course, my writing time is limited by the day job. I can write on the weekends and often do. But first weekend has a cub scout event. Next weekend is my Guard regiment marching in a Veterans Day parade, followed by family picnic. Weekend after that is more cub scouts. Next one has a Guard community service event. Then there's Thanksgiving . . . when we're inviting people over for gaming. So, nope, not getting a huge burst of writing done this November.

At the rate I'm going I'm in good shape to finish before next Fencon. I may sign up for the writing workshop, depending on what I think of host Carrie Vaughn. Haven't read any of her books yet, figure I'll read one or two before making the decision. Another writing workshop I might take it to is a cruise with Toni Weisskopf, but that'd be pricy.

For anyone reading this, the gaming day on 11/30 is technically a Royal Manticoran Navy event, but anyone interested is welcome, shoot me a message.
selenite0: (anvil)
Technical concepts
Never fit into haiku
But acronyms do
selenite0: (Karl with beard and hat)
So what have I been up to since Fencon? Playing WoW. Lots. There was this new expansion, arriving just as I reached the end of the existing content that had been built over the previous four years. It's good, too. Very fun game. But it sucks up lots of time and energy that could go into blog posts.

I turned 42 last month. This didn't come with the Answer, but I'm not asking many big questions these days. I'm happy with my life. Sure, I've got complaints and worries but overall this is where I want to be--married to a wonderful woman with great kids. That's what matters. The rest is minor.

*****

The minor stuff can still be fun. I've sold three more RPG articles to JTAS. They're write-ups of the scenarios I've been running at conventions, converted from Firefly to Traveller (GT:IW). They haven't impressed the readership--average or below ratings and no comments. This is a big contrast to my first article, "Terran Consuls," which was being praised months later as a reason to subscribe to the webzine. I'm a bit amused by the contrast. The consuls piece was a minor bit of worldbuilding (worldshimming?) and I hadn't playtested it, nor has anyone ever used it in a game as far as I know. Meanwhile the characters and scenarios have worked quite well and entertained dozens of people.

At this point I'm just happy to get the material published. I'd originally written them intending to sell it as a mini-campaign supplement. This went through a few different forms. Now I'm breaking it up as separate articles. [livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly nicknamed the project the "monkey." I'm glad I'm finally getting it off my back.

*****

A more successful project was making a train table for Jamie. We've had wooden train track playsets around for years. Having a box full of various track segments is fun for anyone who wants to build lots of different layouts, but they haven't been used that much. Our kids don't want to design a transit system, they want to run the trains around. So they're always thrilled when they find a play area with a glued-down train set for them to play with. Building some loops and having them come apart as the trains go by isn't as much fun.

We had an old coffee table that wasn't being used much. I painted it green with some help from Jamie (he didn't ask why--he just had fun brushing it on). Then I took our pile of track, some special pieces from [livejournal.com profile] maggieallen, and some connectors I picked up at a local toy store, and started coming up with a layout that fit on the table and be fun to play with. Turns out we had almost enough curved track to recreate the Olympic logo but it wouldn't fit. The fourth design worked. Used all the space on the table, had the turntable in the center to focus attention, and provided another five junctions where the trains could switch directions. Had to take a hacksaw to one piece, and there's a couple of loose ends the trains can run off of, but it works. Had it done with just enough time for the glue to dry before Christmas morning. I finished off two rolls of wrapping paper covering it up.

We made it the last present, hiding it in the garage until the kids were done with their others. Then [livejournal.com profile] fordprfct and I carried it in and we turned Jamie loose on it. Very, very happy boy. Only problem was getting his big sister to back off and not take over the game.

*****

One thing that's improved my quality of life in the past year is a CPAP machine. I got it just over a year ago as a sleep apnea treatment. When I sleep I put on a mask that blows pressurized air into my nose and mouth. That way any time the pipe would be too blocked to inhale the extra pressure lets me take a breath. So I'm not having little suffocation episodes in the middle of the night and can get a solid night's sleep.

Now I'm a lot less likely to fall asleep in the middle of a meeting or a party. There's also less snoring. That's what we were hoping for. What I wasn't expecting was that I'm more awake overall. I used to need a jolt of caffeine every morning to get me going, and picked a commuting route that required minimal decisions. Now I have almost no caffeine in me at all (I'm drinking fruit juice instead of Coke) and switched to a shorter commute.

*****

I've been having a blast playing the new World of Warcraft expansion. They made a beautiful play area, have good stories, and gave us interesting things to do. Okay, you're still killing assorted baddies by the score, but there's more variety mixed in with that. I'm been through almost all the content at this point. Did the various Northrend quests, tanked my way through all of Naxxramas, tanked Sartharion with one drake up, and got to phase three of the Malygos fight. I've got a very well-geared warrior, mostly because the RNG seems to love him. It's not that I win with great rolls, it's that the gear I could use drops when there's nobody else around wanting it. At this point I've gotten all the raiding I want. I'd like to keep going with one group to keep my skills and connections up but I don't want to do four nights a week.

I've seen complaints about Naxx being too easy for the end game, especially compared to Karazhan. I don't think it's the instance that's been made too easy. It's the power level of the PCs relative to the monsters they're facing that's changed. If we had to go to Naxxramas carefully marking and crowd-controlling every pull it'd take a lot longer to get through it.

What's changed is the boost in the power level for tanks. I love it as a tank--I get to blast whole groups and zip around in a fight if I need to grab something. It's a huge difference from how I tanked before the expansion. If I'd gone into Kara the first time grabbing and holding groups we'd've rolled through. I don't think the Naxx boss fights are easier than the Kara ones, they're mostly harder in terms of the player skill you need to hold things together, but they're easier and faster to get to, so you have more time and energy to deal with them.

I think that power boost is what created the current tank glut. It's more fun to play a tank now, certainly for warriors and paladins. Druids haven't gotten as big a boost but they're still more powerful than they were pre-expansion from what I've seen. So anyone who'd ever played a tank is spending time on that toon enjoying the power. It's also easier for a tank to do solo or pvp fighting than it used to be. So we're not losing tanks to burnout, we're getting back some who'd switched to other roles, and there's less work required to get your tank the money/mats/rep you need to raid. So now I'll sign up for a raid and notice half of the first eight signing up are tanks, and my favorite tank blogger posts "You should take some time off and let someone else have a turn tanking."

Hopefully Blizzard will figure how to make healing that much fun in the next expansion, or sooner.

Soundtrack

Jun. 5th, 2007 11:26 pm
selenite0: (Couple-FenConII-kiss)
[livejournal.com profile] celticdragonfly found the perfect music for the current writing project.
selenite0: (shiny)
Here I'd been wondering when I'd hear if Pyramid would buy The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Panic and they went ahead and printed it! Looks good, too. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of Hysteria Department characters people come up with.
selenite0: (shiny)
I'm a regular reader of Pyramid magazine. Well, almost regular. If I'm having a really busy weekend I might not get round to it, and then forget to go back and check before the next issue goes up on the website. Which isn't a disaster, this is just entertainment. But it's still really embarrassing to discover I missed the issue with my own article, "Poor Bloody Infantry", in it.

The good news is they apparently like it enough to make it one of the free samples:
http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/sample.html?id=5009
Anybody want to try out one of the scenarios?

The reader feedback declares it a totally average article--its rating is the same as the mean for all articles. Not bad, considering it's dry prose about a minority interest for that audience. I'll aim higher with the next one.

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