Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Seth & Chloe

Recently, I finished reading the first book in the Lunara Series named "Seth and Chloe" written by the talented (and woefully under promoted) Wyatt Davenport.  The first book in the series sets an intriguing tone with characters who are very intermingled, a strong sense of mystery, and page turning motion.  The concept alone - Earth dead but human life surviving on Mars and Earth (Luna - also what I refer to it as in the Olympus Union series, much the way that the Sun is actually Sol) - is quite intriguing.  As the graphic suggests, I read mine on the Kindle.  The link above actually takes you to that page, and it's a mere 99 cents, so worth supporting the author.

What I enjoyed most about the book was actually learning about and meeting the characters.  Without ruining any of the story for you, there is a definite mystery surrounding the title characters, Seth and Chloe (a couple who escaped the worst wars that Mars has ever seen).  It's a good time learning about their friends, however, and learning the personalities through the interactions and discussions about our title protagonists.  There is also a very good opportunity to get angry (and it comes often enough) when bad things - and unfair things - start to happen to the group.  The last time that I found myself genuinely angry was when I was reading one of George RR Martin's books, so that's a pretty solid rationale for getting into the characters!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Racism and Science Fiction

In his famous speech "I have a dream" speech, Martin Luther King said the following:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

If you go ahead and read the entire speech (that link takes you to it), it's actually quite poignant.  If you want to actually see it and hear it, go ahead and click here.  Doctor King talked about black men and white men living together, his children being judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.  While I can't say that it was Doctor King who is responsible for this in my novel series (or perhaps, subconsciously he is?) I have happily included men and women of all colors into the Olympus Union series.  From administrators to commoners, soldiers to scientists, pilots and rebels, skin and race are essentially meaningless in this universe.  That, after all, was the goal of the Olympus Union - to unite all men together.

Of course, for those who have read both "The Past Repeated" and "Drawing Battle Lines" you know for a fact that not all men are united under the Olympus Union banner.  You also know that there is a type of racism that has grown within that universe as well.  Far into the future, men and women are still judged on a key factor - where do you live in relation to the great asteroid belt that cuts through the solar system?  The Jovians, especially the born Jovians, are looked down on.  As with racism today, it isn't practiced by everyone, but it certainly happens.  Perhaps it is a human condition, to cast off any who "aren't like us" but it's a reality.  Just as the English looked down their noses at the American Colonies so many centuries ago, so has it happened again.

[For anyone who never quite understood the title of "The Past Repeated" I just spilled it for you!]

And so, the fight goes on and on, deep into the future.  It's a different fight, but a fight none the less.  For fair treatment.  For independence.  For equal footing.  The same as it has been for every group who has risen up out of oppression.  Olympus Union is not a story of fighting racism, mind you, but the story of the powers that be doing what they feel is right, and those caught under it fighting for their perceived rights.  This is what it always likely will with man.  There will always be those who are above us, and if we realize it or not, those that we consider beneath us.  As soon as we unite on one front, we generally find something else to fight about.  And, in the end, it's the underdog fighting the good fight that we tend to root for.  Except for all of those Darth Vader fans out there.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing is like...

Just finished reading this great article, "Ten Bits of Advice Writers Should Stop Giving Aspiring Writers" which was incredibly enjoyable.  What's more, it's something that you don't have to be a writer to enjoy.  And, since I barely qualify as a writer, I can stretch this to not having to be writing to enjoy it.  I'd take this further, but really, why do that?  Right.  So what's the point?  Ahhh the point.

If you read this article - and I really suggest that you do - you'll notice the last line where he says people often suggest that writing is like something else.  Let me tell you, something here.  I'm a musician - guitarist and a singer, song writer, released the CD Lighting the Dark.  I'm something of an athlete (or at least was until about two years ago), playing basketball, softball, football, hockey, and one soccer game that I was thrown out of for not understanding that a slide tackle is not the same as a tackle (yes I was thrown out of that game).  I have been programming on computers since I was about nine years old, and have programmed for many web companies in my professional career.  I've been in business, even starting (and failing miserably at) my own dot-com in the late 90s/early 2000s.  I'm also a pretty good cook, and do that as a hobby regularly.  You know what I can tell you from all of that?


I can't stress that enough.  Writing isn't "like" anything else.  Not even making music.  Trust me, I can pick up my guitar and start playing right this moment.  I can have days where I crank out two full songs, ready to be recorded, but couldn't write a paragraph of usable fiction.  Then I have days where I'll do up several pages on one of the ebooks and can't even get a workable line or a solid chord progression (happened while writing The Past Repeated).  It just isn't the same.  The concentration that I put in when I'm shooting a foul shot? Totally different. The research for running a business? Not even remotely close.  You know what writing is like?


So, if you do write, and you hear someone tell you, "oh, writing is just like when you..." walk away from that person.  You know what I do when I'm stuck writing?  I put on a song that I listened to when I had a good writing streak.  I write an email to someone, to see if the juices start flowing.  Hell, I'll even write a blog.  What gets me into place for my ebooks?  Both The Past Repeated and Drawing Battle Lines had some pretty long outlines.  I got into them piecemeal, and made it a point to jump around to the spots that made the most sense to write at the time.  Never, not once, did I go into my habits that I'd use walking up to the plate with a bat in my hands, or any other pre-game rituals.  Doesn't put me in the same frame of mind.  Because, again, it's not the same thing.

So, if you write, just think of it as another skill. And if you don't, then quit telling the rest of us what else writing is like.  'Cause it ain't.  At least, ain't like nothing else I've ever done. And, ya see?  You just made my grammar fall apart!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Birthing the Future

Today, I finished the outline for The Future Reborn which will be the third and final installment in Olympus Union's Jovian Trilogy. Future follows The Past Repeated and Drawing Battle Lines to tell the tale of the war between the Olympus Union and the Jovian Free League.  After this book, while there will be more installments of Olympus Union novels, starting with a stand-alone title to feature Jeremy Hunter, but the war between the two factions is over.  For now.

Of course, the outline coming to completion really means very little in the grand scheme of things.  For one thing, I need to actually start writing up the story itself, which will take a little bit of time.  My hope is to have this novel out on the digital shelves by June of 2012, but as George R.R. Martin has shown us time and again, you never can tell how long it'll take to write.  So for now, I'll be getting to work on that and doing my best to make good on my prediction.

Don't get me wrong, I've certainly been writing lately.  If you didn't notice, I've been working out brand new free short stories on the Olympus Union website, including the development of a brand new group in the universe.  Of course, we've spoken about The Red Scythe before, and there are some new stories coming their way... and a new home page, as well.  We'll get into that later, though.

So here we go, bounding off to Jupiter one more time!  This book has been sketched out, from the start, to be a bit longer than the second, which was in turn longer than the first.  Fair enough, I won't be going out to 600 or 900 pages like Mr. Martin, but longer all the same.  Right.. so... I should probably get to work...