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. 🙂

The Journey From Irate Reader To Nervous Author

I guess I should explain the subtitle of this blog. In May 2014, I bought an e-book on Amazon which was, erm, less than stellar. It was, in fact, the kind of book that gives self-pubs their bad reputation. About 30 pages into it, I realized it wasn’t getting better, and I was not going to be able to finish it.

I said something to the effect of, “I could write better than this. In fact, I will!” It’s an attitude, by the way, that’s responsible for a lot of the house renovation designs in Coquitlam 🙂 .

So, three months later, I had a novel written. Then I spent four months actually getting it ready for publication. It’s surprising how much of the craft of writing doesn’t actually involve, you know, writing.

Time will tell if I become a popular author, but one thing’s for sure– I’ve got the bug.

Vacation is over

I’m back at work after three weeks off. I had originally booked the three weeks in Feb so that I could snowboard every day. Unfortunately for me, all four local mountains are closed due to lack of snow, and Whistler isn’t exactly doing happy dances. And three hours to Manning or Baker is just a bit much.

So, I spent most of the three weeks writing. I’m about a third of the way into Earthside (Outland 2) and about halfway into Legion. My wife just did an alpha read on what I have in Earthside, and we have to sit down and discuss it.

To be honest, three weeks of writing without too much in the way of other commitments was very relaxing. Still, I would have liked to get a little snowboarding in.

Name change. Sort of.

This is not much of a blog post, I’ll admit. More of a notice. Turns out “Dennis Taylor” is a fairly common name. Who knew? So I’ll be using “Dennis E. Taylor” in the future, and I’m hoping to change the Outland cover at some point as well– although that’s a big PITA to do on CreateSpace, so I’m not looking forward to it.

Changing POV

Point of View is a Big Deal ™ when writing fiction. First person, second person (yeah, that’s a thing), third person; present tense, past tense; Omni, limited; on and on, oy.

POV is also one of the harder ideas to get a handle on– the hardest, in my opinion, being “show don’t tell”. POV breaks and head hops are very common issues with new authors and a huge red flag for agents reading submissions.

But aside from all the writing problems, choice of POV is an important decision when you are starting a new WIP. I wrote my first novel, Outland, in 3rd person. Most of the chapters are limited, but a couple are Omni.

When I started a different project (working title ‘Legion’), I naturally used 3rd limited again. After all, it’s what I know. But about 30k words in, I realized it was far too distant– the reader wouldn’t be engaged. The problem is that the protagonist is solitary for large stretches of the story, which means long sections with little or no dialog. In 3rd person, it begins to look like a long tell.

So, after thinking about it for a bit, I went through and changed the whole thing to 1st person. And whaddaya know, it works better. I can make the narrator voice more chatty, and describing small nuances of emotion feels more natural.

The takeaway for me is: be willing to try alternatives. Inertia is not your friend.

Fade in…

Hello. My name is Dennis Taylor (thus the name on the blog). I’ve been an inveterate reader for <mumble> years– mostly science fiction, with occasional forays into horror, suspense, and even the occasional detective novel like the Rizzoli and Isles series.

So, now I’m an author. Yippee. Oh, and a blog-writer. To be honest, I don’t really expect much–if any–readership. This is as much a diary as anything else; a way to organize my thoughts and keep track of my journey.

Having said that, I also have a snowboarding blog going, which I started with exactly the same motivations. And that thing actually has followers. Some of my posts got linked to, and got hits numbering in the thousands. Go figger.

So, let the journey begin!