Scorched is a 2017 Kindle Book Awards Finalist

Click to find Scorched on Kindle

This just in!  Kindle Book Review’s 6th annual “Kindle Book Awards” is in full swing, and Scorched has made it to the final round!  Free to read in Kindle Unlimited, give my dystopian mystery thriller a look!

Click to see the finalist list

Posted in Just For Fun, Kindle | Tagged , ,

Oh, The Places We’ll Go

One day, while feeling all retrospective-y (yes, I’m a writer), I created this map highlighting the journey of every book so far throughout the known This Corner of the Universe galaxy:

(click for a larger view)

I noticed two things immediately.

  1. Anthe is a vortex of activity. It’s strange how galaxy-changing events seem to pass through that relatively quiet, provincial system. I guess Anthe is my November 5th, 1955.  (Am I dating myself with the Back to the Future reference?)
  2. Loyalty to the Cause is truly an epic, far-traveling story. It spans all three territories of the major powers. It was also terrifying to write, as combat took a back seat to the escape story. I was scared it would be called “boring.” Thank God I was wrong.

As I look at the map, I see I’ve dedicated most of my time in the Brevic Republic, centering on Republic characters. It’s probably only natural given the TCOTU setting. The second most common locales visited are the corporate star systems, having offered readers a look at the Lesser Magellanic Arm (LMA) and the Coreward Corporate Zone (CCZ), plus glimpses at the Central Systems–no fancy acronym for it. The two least covered places seem to be the Hollaran Commonwealth (we’ve only seen a little of it because of Lombardi) and nearly nothing in the Solarian Federation.

This map is relevant because a concept for a story is forcing its way to the forefront of my mind and it could be set in any of the three major powers. The obvious choice is the Brevic Republic. It’s home and it’s comfortable. It also offers the best opportunities for tie-ins later. However, I wonder if a less “safe” choice might be more interesting:

  • What are people from the Commonwealth really like? Is that government better/nicer to its people than the Republic? Yes, Isabella Lombardi is very much a paragon but what’s the average Hollaran like?
  • What about the Federation? It’s the biggest entity in human space but I’ve written the least about it. And are citizens living in Federation systems closest to the Chetellx territory freaking out?
  • Lastly, what’s the Disputed Zone like? Is it “lawless” like Reece Lochlain suggests in Confidence Game?

We’ve been to so many star systems in the TCOTU galaxy but there’s still so much left to explore.  If you’ve missed Garrett Heskan’s epic journey in the original series, or the treachery brewing as the Republic pursues The Parasite Initiative, or even if a smuggling crew is more your style with Confidence Game, now’s the time to catch up while I work on our next space opera adventures.  Oh, the places we’ll go…

Posted in The Universe | Tagged , ,

Bringing a Ship to Life – Details of Zanshin

Not since my very first book have I dedicated such a large amount of narration to the starship in the story as I did with Zanshin in Confidence Game.  I tried hard to make the ship as much of a character of the story as Anelace was in This Corner of the Universe.  It was a fun and interesting process.

It started out at  I often go there to find inspiration and I’m continually amazed by the talented artists at that website.  Even more incredible is their generosity.

Freighter starships are relatively difficult to find.  Most of the art is consumed by actual warships so it took some searching to find something that I could build a story around.  Here were some of my favorites when I went searching.  The below work, by an artist named hunterkiller, immediately caught my eye.  It’s a great design and I love the cargo crane atop the hull:

Click the image to visit hunterkiller’s DeviantArt page

“Pelican” by Long-Pham is also another fantastic creation that really brings to life the wear and tear a vessel would endure over the decades:

Click the image to visit Long-Pham’s DeviantArt page

In the end, there was one more ship I fell in love with and I was incredibly lucky. Mike Doscher was generous enough to permit me to use his artwork to help bring Zanshin to life. I absolutely love the nautical appearance of this vessel and the cargo compartments fit perfectly with the narrative I was hoping to use in the story:

Click the image to visit Mike Doscher’s DeviantArt page

Of course, to make Zanshin come to life, I needed more than a fantastic picture. The Geography major in me needed a detailed deck plan. It started painfully:

Stubby and fat, but you have to start somewhere.  I quickly added the picture to the top of my crude artwork as a guide but the only good thing about this opening deck plan was visualizing the three decks of the ship.  Only one deck, the “Main Deck,” would run its length.  I stretched out the ship and then added some graphics to flesh out some interior spaces next:

Now it was beginning to look, vaguely, like Zanshin.  I pushed up the forward and aft corridors to create the stairwells that feature prominently in the book.  Also, notice the forward holds are both internal holds and the distinct absence of internal holds after the common areas on the Main Deck.  However, the deck plan stayed amazingly consistent throughout the developmental process despite its early stage.  Estimates for the ship’s size and scaling came next:

Zanshin still felt too “smooshed” though so I stretched it further to align more closely with Doscher’s artwork:

Now, I was getting somewhere.  In this iteration, one of the more major changes was the addition of the “Bonus Crew Compartment” converted from a forward internal hold that would serve sparingly as Mercer’s quarters. Next was nailing down the scaling of the vessel and figuring out compartment sizes, locations for key equipment and adding those rear internal holds:

As you can see, there is actually quite a bit of information I hid from the finalized version used in the book, including the compartment dimensions and the note I made that Hussy (from Loyalty to the Cause) was giving me fits (I hate it when my universe isn’t consistent).  I picked and pecked at this design slightly but the changes after this were minor and finally yielded the version used for Confidence Game:

Creating such a detailed design wasn’t necessary but it sure helped with staying consistent and visualizing each compartment in my mind’s eye while I wrote.  Hopefully, this level of detail also enhanced your reading experience!



Posted in Ship Details | Tagged , , , ,