Chasing Blue Dots

After releasing a book in the Fall, I usually recharge my batteries in preparation for the next novel.  This October, I scratched an itch instead.  I always try to challenge myself with each new book.  I would hate writing the same, tired thing over and over again.  For example, No Way To Start A War focuses on large fleet battles, Loyalty To The Cause is a caper book, Scorched is dystopian and Confidence Game is a low-stakes smuggler’s tale.

For quite a while now, I’ve wanted to write a romantic comedy.  Enter my latest project, Chasing Blue Dots.

I wasn’t even sure if I would publish this novel because it’s admittedly a niche product.  It’s set in the This Corner of the Universe setting and is fully a standalone story about a space traffic controller inside the Solarian Federation.  However, I’m quite proud with how it’s turning out and I want to release it.  The draft is done and we’re in the process of editing it for an early 2018 release.

A note of caution though: this book is a radical departure from my other TCOTU novels.  The writing style is VERY different (it’s first person and with adult language and themes).  It’s also very much a romance novel, albeit an unconventional one.  There is a bit of action but at its core it’s a book about relationships and heartbreak and love, etc.  There aren’t any space battles and I really want my long-time readers to understand what they’re getting into if they decide to read this book.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I love this book very much and I think you’ll like it too if you try it, but I don’t want to dupe readers into thinking this book is going to have the fleet battles that Across the Blue Line will have later in 2018.  I’d rather readers not buy this book than end up feeling cheated.

By the way, Across the Blue Line WILL be released in early Fall 2018.  If you’re looking forward to it, you can expect it then.  This little diversion won’t delay it.

However, if you want a TCOTU fix and you think you might be interested in reading a book that fleshes out the universe while being based on character development and adult relationships, Chasing Blue Dots might be a nice side trip in the TCOTU setting.

Finally, when I say this book is niche, I mean very.  How many other sci-fi romance novels are there about space traffic controllers?  🙂

(NOT the actual book cover!)

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Turning On Your Aircar

We share a laugh and inspect the Ute for critters before loading up the back and piling in. She flips the two battery switches above her before turning on the NAVRAN switch on the center console. “We need to check the weather. With that breeze, I bet it’s going to rain.”

— Chasing Blue Dots

Her right hand flew to the Battery 1 and 2 switches while her left hand reached behind her to flip the NAVRAN switch. Next came both fuel pumps while her right hand opened the APU cutoff valve. Kat looked anxiously out her open door. The dump truck weaved a crooked line between the railcars, bearing down toward the flatbed and its wide-eyed driver was smashing his horn again and again. She pressed the APU start button and released the turbine brake with a simple motion. She opened the engine shutoff valve, skipping its governor, and pressed and held the engine start button. “Come on, come on,” she urged as the turbine RPMs slowly cycled up.

— Scorched

Ever wonder if narration like this is just techno-babble? In my case, it is and it’s not. Even though these stories take place in separate imagined universes, I used research for the start-up sequence for the same real-world helicopter to visualize how to start an “aircar.”  Specifically, the similarity to the Kamov KA-50 Black Shark helicopter startup sequence I hope lends the writing a flair of authenticity.

I’ve learned over the years that I write my best work when I can see the person/object I’m writing about. Whether it’s my crude drawings of an escort frigate, meticulous layouts of a freighter, the overhead map of a shantytown or the floor plan of an underground house, my writing feels most vibrant when I can connect to the subject.

When seeking inspirations for operating aircars, I found some in the computer game DCS Black Shark 2. It’s a wonderful game with painstakingly detailed simulation. Here’s a link to a Youtube video (posted by PS2SirWigglyBottom) highlighting the startup procedure. The first 1:47 runtime takes you through engine start:

Who’d have thought that turning on your aircar and starting a KA-50 would be similar?

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Best of the Blog – Military History

As I continue to write the stories that come to mind, Karen (my wife) has been eyeing my website and wondering how to reorganize the content.  At the moment, it’s organized by series and book, but we might in 2018 look at organizing by genre or some other method.

In any case, thinking about the website had me taking a stroll back through the blog posts.  There are some that are truly my favorites, and I’d like to find a way to get them more front-and-center next year.  Until then, I’m creating lists of favorites for reference in a “Best of the Blog” series of posts.  This time around, the theme is Military History.

I consider myself a student of military history (some would say “junkie”), and occasionally a tie-in occurs in my writing.  Here are some favorite posts about events in military history that inspired scenes in my books:

“I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight” – Story of the Bonhomme Richard sinking (1779)

“The Universe Wonders” – Story of the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944)

“About the F-3 Pup” – Homage to the 1916 Sopwith Pup of World War I

“You’re Keeping Anelace Alive” – Homage to Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret), whom I heard speak while attending Officer Training School

“Privateers – What’s in a Name?” – Privateer armies in the American Civil War and others that inspired privateer group names in my books

Hardee Hat

“The Casus Bellum and the Art of Corporate War” – The idea for war as spectacle was taken from American Civil War history, including the First Battle of Bull Run

“History Repeats Itself” – A tie-in to World War II’s Battle of Midway

Yorktown at the moment of impact of a torpedo from a Nakajima B5N. Picture from Wikipedia.

“Schürzen What?” – A reference to the distinctive side skirts of German World War II tanks.

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