Starting Alpha Readers

I’ve now gotten myself a couple of alpha readers for Legion. The story is at 60K words, and I want to see if there are parts that I’ve skimped on. Ideally I’d like to have it at 80K for release, but in the end it’ll be the size that it needs to be.

Postings have been going up on Critique Circle for a couple of weeks now, and the reception is pretty good. I’ve gotten comments that the blurb is too detailed– something I agree with. Tried to stick to much information in, in response to the absolutewrite thread comments, and that never ends well.

The big milestone for me, though, was figuring out how to introduce the Others. For some reason, I blocked on that for a while. But all good, now.

On a slightly different subject, I’m redoing my spaceship from scratch. Same general layout, but elliptical instead of octagonal. It looked too toy-like before, IMO.



Blurb for “We are Legion”

Here’s the blurb for We are Legion (We are Bob), final or close to it.

Bob Johansson has hit the jackpot. He’s just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street while attending a science-fiction convention.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared deceased and without rights, and he is now the property of the State. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling A.I. in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets suitable for colonization. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he is as good as painting a bulls-eye on his own computer case. The stakes are high, no less than first claim to entire worlds. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. The way to get there is to do what the State wants. But to get to that point he will have to survive everything from foreign saboteurs to guerilla raids. If he manages to live through launch day, there’s still a good chance the other probes will be armed and focused on eliminating competition the old-fashioned way.

And the universe contains entities even more unfriendly than the competing probes. It’s almost too much for a poor A.I. to handle.

Tell me what you think. Any part confusing? What questions immediately come up? Remember that this is a back-cover blurb, not a synopsis, so I have limited room. The rule-of-thumb is about 250 words, which I’ve gone a little over.


Status Update

New web page up (satisfaction level rising), story developing, CC entries submitted. Doing good.


Progress Report

I’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now. Legion, obviously. I lost about a month of writing while I was working on all the side projects, but I’m starting to get back on track.

The spaceship design thing was a huge time sucker. The real cost is learning Blender, which is a large, complex program. I’ve ended up with something I really like, but it’s version 1. Now I have to redo it, fixing the mistakes that I learned about the first time around. Oh, well, it’ll be quicker this time.

Stellarium took a lot of time as well. That was well worth it, and very much required, as I was losing track of the paths of my various Bobs. Once Legion is published, I’ll put the Amazon link in the About page, and release it on Codeproject.

Then there’s this page. I decided recently that it was about time for me to have my own domain. I checked out the competition and eventually decided on . They have the most complete offering, their price doesn’t triple after the introductory period, they don’t nickel and dime you for every little thing, and they have a lot of options. As it turns out, they don’t seem to believe in documentation, and setting up is a challenge. I think they may be used to dealing with more experienced clients — for all that I’m a computer guy, I’ve never set up a domain or a website before. Fortunately, their tech support is responsive. I still have things to fix, but I’m making progress.

And the latest tangent– I’ve been using Excel to maintain my timeline in Legion, and I just caught a significant error. So that’s not working so well. I’ve decided to write a timeline program. Why write one? Because the ones I’ve looked at come in two types: free, and useful. So I’m going to roll my own. I’ll do the same thing with it as Stellarium– release it on Codeproject when Legion is released.

I’ve started doing chapter submissions on . First submission will be out April 29th, and I’ve set a personal goal of not missing any weeks.

So, things are moving along nicely. And I certainly don’t have time to be bored!


I am here!

Hi everyone! (I can’t decide if that’s ironic or not)

As you can see, I now have my own domain. Woo hoo! It’s going to be a bit of a slog for a while, but eventually I’ll get this puppy organized. I’ll also be bringing over my posts from my earlier blog.

I guess I’ll have to release a new version of Outland as well, with the new URL in it.

Wow. I have to say that setting up your own website is not a trivial undertaking. To be fair, I think my hosting service is a little noob-unfriendly, although their overall offering is best by far. Still, a whole lotta crap involved in getting set up.


First Renders

Here’s a first render of the Heaven-1, and a short video of the ship being rotated. I’m still not sure about the composition of the ship’s skin. I was originally thinking of a white ceramic look. I may try that again. Also, I’m going to put on some warning decals and such. Ever looked at a close-up of a fighter jet? “No Step” “Warning – Intake manifolds” etc. 🙂

Spaceship Design

I mentioned earlier that I’ve been learning Blender. It’s been an uphill battle (the software is not intuitive) but I’ve made progress. I actually have the beginnings of a good spaceship.

Interestingly, it’s not just a matter of having something for the cover. Designing the ship has forced me to think through some issues, and will affect the story-line. So, well worth the effort. I hate it when the cover doesn’t match up to the contents of the book, and I don’t want to end up being one of those people.

I’ll likely have a still to post up soon. And just for the halibut, I’m going to do a short video clip– probably a planetary fly-by.

Got my stellarium working

I got the app working. It shows pretty clearly the path through space taken by my protagonist(s). I’m kind of geeked out about it, actually. Here’s an upload of my animation. Unfortunately, youtube really trashes the detail. You have to watch full-screen to have any chance of reading the star tags.


Off on a Tangent

Wow, talk about distracted…

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m trying to learn Blender so I can do some art for Legion. I have to admit, it’s fun in its own right. Blender, like Bryce (I own v5), is not intuitive, and you really have to go through tutorials to learn it. But the results are impressive.

And now I’ve realized that my protagonist’s interstellar escapades are getting out of hand, so I need a way to visualize what’s going on and where he’s been. So I’m writing a 3D stellarium program in Visual Studio using XNA. And how much writing am I getting done? Heh. Not much. Jeez, I need to do this full-time.

Making a Cover

I paid someone to make the cover for Outland, and most of the comments have been good. However, the artist is a “photo manipulation” specialist, rather than a painter, sketch artist, or 3D graphics creator. I don’t think she’d be able to do much with my requirements for Legion.

I’ve done some looking around and pricing for 3D graphics artists, and my initial reaction can best be described as “Eek!”

So, I’m going the DIY route, at least for now. I may find that I don’t have the skillz to produce a really first-rate cover, but that I’m able to block out the basics. In any case, it’s a learning experience, and kind of fun. I’ve always said that I have all the artistic skill of an artichoke, with apologies to artichokes. But hey, I said the same thing about writing, and so far I’m doing okay.

I’ve downloaded Blender, which is a free, open-source 3D rendering program. Looks pretty good, so far. How hard can it be, right? There’s a joke that’s built around that statement, but I can’t remember it except for the “How hard can it be?” part. There’s probably more than one.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. Worst case, I got to play with some cool software and confirm my limitations. 🙂