My Starfleet Education

DO NOT SKIP THESE ITEMS!

LisaCron

I usually start with something about me; my books, my blog, my opinions, but this time it’s different.  Other bloggers post when they post, and these two profound items arrived a day apart.  They are incredibly important to authors who are serious about raising their game to the next level, and if I’m going to call myself serious about helping newbies find their voice, these have to be the lead items.  Listen to me carefully if you are a beginning or struggling author seeking ways to raise your game.  Go first to the Writers Helping Writers website and read There Will Be Blood by Lisa Cron.  I once heard a famous author (who I think was Dean Koontz) say that once you know a character’s life-or-death secret, he or she will leap off the page.  I have tried to incorporate that in my own writing, and passed it along to others on many occasions, but he never really explained how to make it work in practical terms.  Ms. Cron does so with depth and clarity, and your writing can only improve exponentially after reading this essay.  There is also a link to her own web page, Wired for Story, which is very much worth a bookmark.  I’ve a feeling you can’t go too far wrong here!

RichieBillingLogo

Once you’ve hoisted Ms. Cron’s wisdom aboard, pay a visit to Richie Billing, another insightful blogger of my acquaintance who expands on her concept with a look, not at characters, but at theme.  His dissertation on the subject is similar in approach, and can be found in his latest blog post.  I highly recommend it be read in tandem with Ms. Cron’s master work above.

It is an accepted axiom (at least among the superstitious!) that good things come in threes, and to round out this trilogy of insights, I will now refer you to my own blog post on the presentation of action, below.  With these powerful tools at your disposal, you’ll be ready to make your own personal assault on the best-seller list of your choice.  Read on, adventurer, then go forth and conquer!

We now return you to our regular programming . . .

Much of what I know about writing, I learned from Star Trek.  Long-time friends will know that I live by the mantra that wisdom is where  you find it.  Once you’ve accepted that particular axiom, it pretty much forces you to keep an open mind, even about things that seem at first glance to be less than optimum.  Gather ’round, kiddies, and I’ll share an illustrative tale from my youth.

It was around 1970, maybe 71, a long time ago by any mortal standards.  I had been out of the navy for a number of months, and while I had gone home to civilianize and make my start at what would eventually become my career, my great-grandmother fell and broke her hip.  She had been my primary caregiver throughout my childhood, and now it was my turn to return the favor.  For four years she was an invalid in a wheelchair, and my primary responsibility.  I couldn’t be gone from her beck and call very often or for very long, and much of that forced idleness went into writing.

Star Trek had been first-run while I was in the navy, and I was unable to follow it on any sort of regular basis, but it went into local syndication following its cancellation, and I ate it up!  I watched and rewatched the episodes, read the novelizations, built models, wrote stories of other ships with different crews, and pored over the ads for Star Trek memorabilia and props in the popular science fiction magazines of the time.

STGuideIt was in the back of one of these august publications that I found The Official Star Trek Writer’s Guide.  The price was a few bucks, not even pocket change by today’s standards, but back then it was a substantial outlay for someone who could only work dog-walking or doing yard work a couple of hours a day.  Well, my rage could be seen from space when this reeking disappointment of a publication landed in my mailbox.  Its 31 photocopied pages had been written on a typewriter that had seen better days, had faded bands on them making whole sections painfully difficult to read, and to top it all off, the “binding,” to abuse a term beyond all sufferance, consisted of two brass brads pushed through the left side.  The printing was so uneven and off-center that I had to take it apart to read some of the pages.  I could have bitten the head off a nail!

STGuidePage2

But I figured that, having paid good money for this thing, I might as well get whatever benefit I could from it, so I laid back on my bed and began to read.  The first thing I read was that this was the “official” guide given to every writer who wrote for Star Trek, and had to be followed to the letter.  I could not believe that, and became angry all over again at the audacity these people had to tell a bald-faced lie like that; surely, no production as professional as Star Trek would hand a professional writer a mimeographed pamphlet and tell him that those were the guidelines!

But then I began to read the main text, and all was forgiven.  As my followers know, regardless of genre, I write pure action and adventure.  As I think everyone is aware, the original Star Trek was pure action and adventure, and to the naive novice writer I was back in those days, this was gold.  Like a genie granting wishes, it taught me three lessons that have stayed with me for almost half a century and been of greater value to me than what I’ve gotten out of books many times the price and size.  I’m going to share them here for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of reading this priceless little treasure.  May you write well and prosper:

1.  DON’T EXPLAIN STUFF.  You never see writers of western stories have two cowboys engage in a lengthy discussion of the breed of horse they ride, and the relative merits of each in the herding of cattle.  Sergeant Joe Friday doesn’t turn to a bystander and explain the workings of his .38 Special before he demands a suspect’s surrender.  Characters in science fiction and fantasy shouldn’t either.  When the Space Ranger draws his pocket frannistaner or the wizard begins to chant the gunkulation spell, don’t explain what they’re for.  Trust your audience to get it; they’re smart enough to be reading your book, after all!  Show them what it does, let them see the effect, and get on with the story.  Next time they see the thing, it will seem as normal to them as a toaster, simply another part of your created world.  Just keep it consistent; that’s all they really want.

2.  KEEP IT REAL.  It’s the day after tomorrow in the Persian Gulf, and USS Vincennes, an American missile cruiser, has been enjoying a morning-long game of cat and mouse with a pack of Iranian patrol boats.  They seem to be headed back toward their base when two of them suddenly turn out of formation and accelerate back toward the cruiser, whereupon the captain remembers a piece of intelligence that crossed his desk warning of rumors about suicide boats carrying nuclear devices.  All at once these rumors don’t seem so far-fetched any more.  Does the captain then offer a philosophical dissertation on the meaning of duty and heroism?  Does he try to comfort a young female sailor who happens to be on watch?  Let’s hope not!  We like to think he would spend what might be his last moments giving the orders he feels will best resolve the situation.  Just because your story is set on the bridge of a space ship doesn’t change this principle.

3.  KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Readers don’t want to hear the gritty details unless they’re pertinent.  I stood many a bridge watch in the navy, including my share of time at the helm.  The procedure for a course change sounds something like this:

CONNING OFFICER:  “Left full rudder!”

HELMSMAN:  “Left full rudder, aye aye sir . . .”  Spins wheel until rudder indicator shows 25° . . .  “Rudder is at left full.”

CO:  “Very well.  Come to new course one-three-five degrees.”

H:  “Coming to new course one-three-five degrees, aye aye, sir . . .”  Watches compass rotate until it reads 135°, manipulates wheel to get ship stabilized and moving on a straight line along its new course . . .  “Steady on new course one-three-five.”

CO:  “Very well.  Steady as you go.”

H:  “Steady as you go, aye aye, sir.”

Fascinating, huh?  Your audience doesn’t want to wade through all that unless something vital to the plot is going to occur in the middle of it; and even then, it better happen early, or the reader will have tuned out and missed the significance entirely.  The proper method is to replace all that procedural chatter with the captain saying, “Come about,” or “Left thirty degrees.”  Minimize the babble and stick to the story.  The story is everything.  Lock your focus on that, and you can’t go too far wrong.

And that’s what I learned from Star Trek’s cheap photocopied pamphlet.  Wisdom is indeed where you find it, and had I tossed that little bundle of papers aside, I never would have learned those three priceless lessons that will keep your story terse, tense, and moving smartly forward.  Oh, and that cheap little guide . . . turns out that really was what they gave to writers coming on board; one of many dreams about Hollywood to fall by the wayside.

Interesting Reads . . .

OfficersAffair

The Officer’s Affair by Samantha Grosser.  England, 1944.  On the Anzio beachhead in Italy Allied troops are fighting for their lives.  Young men watch their friends die around them and grow old before their time.  From some of the most brutal conditions of the Second World War, two wounded men return to England.  When Danny Lock returns to his wife and children, it is not the joyful homecoming that he dreamt of all those nights in Italy.  Disabled and embittered, he knows he will never resume a normal life.  His young wife Rachel, determined to revive their marriage, struggles to understand the man her husband has become.  But as his hostility towards her grows and the distance between them widens, all her hopes for the future begin to fade.  Then Captain Andrews comes to visit.  His attraction to Rachel is instant, but the tension between the two men seems to stem from an earlier time.  What happened in Italy to make Danny so hostile to an officer he once trusted and admired?  And why has Andrews come to visit him in the face of it?  As all three strive to shake off the ghosts of the war, they must each face their own searching questions about the nature of love and loyalty in this heart-wrenching novel, which explores the lives of a small group of people caught in the devastating legacy of the Second World War.  $2.99 on Kindle.

GirlNextDoor

The Girl Next Door by Lisa Aurello.  Am I a killer?  That is the question haunting 25-year-old Jane Jensen.  When she wakes up in the hospital after a devastating accident, she finds her memory since 9th grade of high school wiped clean.  As she heals, she begins to recover some memories and tries to stitch them together to reclaim her identity.  Regaining all the lost years is proving elusive.  Jane is aware that she’s gone from bullied, overweight schoolgirl to successful corporate wonk in the last few years.  But when the wife of her popular and handsome teenage obsession gets killed in a professional hit, Jane makes yet another transition—to that of murder suspect.  It’s an unbearable position for anyone, but it’s so much worse for Jane—she can’t defend herself from the awful accusation for one major reason:  Jane has no clue if she’s innocent or guilty.  The Girl Next Door will keep readers guessing until the final page turn.  $2.99 on Kindle.

More Than a Game

More Than a Game by Andrey Vasilyev.  Step into a future in which advanced technology creates a virtual world with superior capabilities that allow players to experience real-world sensations.  The popularity of the RPG game Fayroll is growing by the day, attracting millions of users to this alternate reality.  What is the secret of Fayroll?  What makes it so different from other games?  Our protagonist, Harriton Nikiforov is an everyman – a binge drinking, tabloid column reporter who has settled for the humdrum of the everyday, with a job that pays the wages, a neurotic girlfriend who gives him migraines and a boss that gives him constant grief.  Tasked with a new assignment, Harriton suddenly finds himself ripped away from his normal routine of Moscow society life, to a journalistic quest of sorts that leads him deep into the realm of the Virtual Gaming World of Fayroll.  Given explicit orders to write a series of fluff pieces on the game and its developers, Harriton grudgingly accepts the assignment, but soon finds himself enthralled by the virtual fantasy world and its amazing quests, unpredictable challenges, and nearly endless possibilities.  Harriton is reincarnated as a warrior named Hagen and becomes a full participant in the fantasy world, plunging into the exciting world full of action, quests, humor, legendary weapons and ancient secrets.  He meets faithful and courageous comrades and outwits those who are trying to hunt him.  In this world, the thirst for success and vanity of high-level players in pursuit of legendary objects spills into the real world, where high-stakes bets are made on the success of the virtual characters.  Harriton, as Hagen, unwittingly enters into the Fayroll world, where events and decisions that he makes in the virtual space starts to affect his own reality.  His unpredictable character, perseverance, and excitement attract the attention of powerful gamers and influential Moscow elite with a vested interest in Fayroll’s outcome.  It is not long before he realizes that this fantastic world, (created according to the best canons of cult games, Warcraft and Lineage), conceals many dangers.  Can he pass all the tests?  Currently FREE on Kindle.

DownJerseyDriveshaft

Down Jersey Driveshaft by William J. Jackson.  World War on the American homefront . . . but this is not the war against the Axis Powers.  Something sinister and beyond imagining has penetrated the salt marshes and idyllic surroundings of Salem County, New Jersey.  It will take the bravery of strangers and locals, along with some startling new technology, to beat back the tide of this unstoppable nightmare.  For those who have never experienced it before, this is DIESELPUNK.  A reimagining of the early 20th Century, more advanced, more deadly, more classy than what we have today.  It is yesterday’s look with tomorrow’s tech; retrofuturism. This is DOWN JERSEY DRIVESHAFT.  A special sale will be in progress through the weekend for the U.K. – £.99 on Kindle.  For the rest of us, it’s $4.99, but it’s innovative fiction by a author of quality.

And Just for Fun . . .

Not only has the illustrious William Jackson put his dieselpunk opus on sale, but he continues to find time to produce a weekly issue of Atoms & Shadows, his double-barrel film review of an atom-powered B movie, usually from the 1950s, and a classic film noir, two of his great loves . . .  Mine, too hence the constant promoting here!  This week’s films are 1962s The Creation of the Humanoids, and 1949’s Too Late for Tears, which was retitled Killer Bait in 1955.  As always, William not only provides his witty insights and numerical ratings of the films’ actions and themes, but includes links to the complete movies as well.  So pop up some corn, grab a two-liter, and settle back for a classic double feature.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

And that’s 30 for today.  Don’t forget that Chameleon is building in on its tab above.  I have four of the fourteen chapters completed, and eventually my entire portfolio will be available to read for free here on the webpage.  I’d love to welcome you to my literary worlds, and to hear what you have to say about my humble endeavors, so don’t be a stranger.  Read well, and write better!

Blimprider Times, No. 16

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it.  Autograph your work with excellence!”

~ Many attributations

View from the Blimp

I have used that quote extensively over the past couple of decades or so, and have tried with some success to instill it in my children.  In researching the author, I was very much surprised to find it attributed to everyone from “Anonymous” through Vince Lombardi to Jessica Guidobono, who neither I nor Wikipedia have ever heard of.  Regardless, somebody said it, and it is profound.

So, why open with this quote, and why, for that matter, open with View from the Blimp?  I believe the reasons will reveal themselves as I press forward.

I have noticed a little issue I’ve been having since the end of May:  I’ve hardly written anything!  Analysis of this issue points up an interesting coincidence:  At the beginning of June I put this blog on a three-day schedule, that is, a post has been prepped and offered every three days like clockwork.  Now I have to ask whether that is an actual coincidence, or an example of cause and effect.  The only way I can see to determine that is by experiment, so commencing immediately, I will be putting this blog on a four-day schedule, and we’ll see how that affects my writing, or if it does at all.  The experiment will proceed through the end of August, and based on what I find between now and then, there may or may not be further changes.

The point of all this?  While I hope it is apparent through content, I try to provide quality work, to create something that has value as entertainment and as enlightenment; I try my best, in short, to make you think.  Producing any quality product takes time, and an hour I spend assembling this blog is an hour I don’t have to work on The Darklighters, so we’ll see if the four-day schedule returns some quality writing time to my pool.  Wish me luck!

Featured Site of the Week

CogpunkSteamscribe

The featured site this week is that of an Australian steampunk author who calls herself Cogpunk Steamscribe. A note to the sleuths out there:  The name on her books is Lynne Lumsden Green.  Regardless, she is, like so many of us, a struggling indie who cherishes each small victory, and she blogs about the many aspects of being an author on today’s playing field, from acceptances and rejections to the Victorians’ fascination with ferns.  Well-spoken, well-mannered, and an insightful blogger as well, this is another site that is very much worth a read.

Interesting Reads

Since we last talked, I’ve encountered a tremendously insightful blog that the sort of young and novice writers that are my target audience would benefit from tremendously.  It is titled simply Roger Floyd’s Blog, and concerns itself with myriad aspects of the writing Craft in concise, easy to follow articles that deal with a single subject at a time.  He doesn’t waste column inches nor even his header with showy artwork, but names his subject, and launches straight into the nitty-gritty.  He has been at it since May of 2010, which if my estimate is right would put him at around 300 articles, and if his recent work is a representative sample of the quality, this blog must amount to a college course in creative writing.  I don’t know how to state the case any more strongly than that.  If you want discussions to make you give serious thought to the way you’re doing things, here they are.

Reserve

The Reserve by Jordan Greene.  Cooper Bay has dreamed his whole life of acting.  So when his brother Nick surprises him with a leading role in a B-horror movie, Cooper can’t say no.  The only catch is the team’s filming location is off-limits to the public.  Yet, that doesn’t sway film director, Luca Sanchez.  He’s set on trespassing North Brother Island, an abandoned isle in the middle of New York City set aside as an avian reserve for a bird that no longer graces its shores.  Ready to make a movie, Cooper and his new film mates cross the East River to shoot their scenes among the restricted island’s decaying ruins.  But a day into production fellow actor, Riley Cannon, goes missing, leaving only a smear of blood on a nearby tree.  Cooper swears he heard something in the woods before Riley went missing, but no one believes him.  Once the screams begin to rise, Cooper wishes he had never signed up for this real life horror story.  99¢ on Kindle.

NautilusLegacy

The Nautilus Legacy by Lewis Crow.  The stunning revelation that his father became none other than the infamous Captain Nemo shakes a young man’s world to its foundation.  This fictional memoir recounts his life after a tragic war destroys his family and nearly kills him.  Learning the truth about his father years later compels him to make a difficult choice: will he keep his comfortable but unspectacular middle-class Victorian existence or forsake everything to continue Nemo’s work of exploring the seas and aiding the oppressed?  Researched to be true to the spirit of Verne’s source novels (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mysterious Island) and his original ideas, The Nautilus Legacy moves from Europe to America to the depths of the sea and beyond.  In addition to its literary and adventure themes, it is also the very personal story of an insecure man who struggles with the life of his father and their unfinished relationship.  $4.95 on Kindle.

ArrowsDesire

Arrows of Desire by Geoffrey Household.  It has been seven hundred years since the United Kingdom was destroyed.  In the aftermath of a global cataclysm, the peoples of Europe banded together under a single flag, but the English refused to go along.  Their resistance was rewarded with a genocide that wiped out half the population.  The survivors resettled in North Africa, and Britain was declared uninhabitable.  To celebrate the year 3000, the island is repopulated, to be ruled according to Federation law.  But there are those in the underground determined to begin old battles anew.  A barbarian king rides in the forests, drinking beer and promising to resist the Federation at all costs.  In the new capital, a student takes a shot at the High Commissioner, nearly killing him with an ancient weapon known as a rifle.  After seven centuries of silence, the British are ready to rise again.  $7.99 on Kindle.

Left Foot Forward by the Littmus Steampunk Band.  This is, as you’ve probably gathered, a music album, and you may wonder why I’m featuring it on a writing blog.  Well, one of the songs, The Gadgeteer, was written by an old friend of ours, Karen J. Carlisle, and is based on a character in The Illusioneer, which means she can now add songwriter to artist, photographer, and author on her resume.  You can snap it up for $1.50 right here.

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me Sunday when I’m sure I’ll have thought of something or other to waste bandwidth on.  Until then, read well, and write better!

The Best-laid Plans…

We are all planners; some of us call our plans ‘first drafts.’  Those are the most rigid and meticulous planners of all.”

~ The first part of that I read somewhere; the second part is my own addition made to clarify the truth of it…

As has been discussed before, after a couple of dismal failures on my attempts to just sit down and write a novel off the top of my head, I purchased some how-to-write-books books and learned how to create a proper outline.  I then became an outliner at the far end of the scale, turning out outlines that were longer than some short stories.  I was considered an outlier by serious planners.  Once I found my true calling, the 20-odd thousand word novella, I shortened my outlines from a couple of paragraphs per scene to a couple of sentences, and that is what I’m going to talk about here.

I write in third-person viewpoint.  Each scene is written from a particular character’s point of view.  A novella hasn’t the room for the half-dozen or so characters I used in my novels, and they have been reduced to three.

  1. The protagonist.  In The Darklighters, the main viewpoint comes from the Darklighter agents, primarily “Jinx” Jenkins.  Charles Bender, her partner, has the viewpoint for about one-third of the scenes.
  2. The Antagonist; the villain if you like.  The overarching “villain” is Kraken, an international criminal organization, but one of their operatives is the antagonist with personality, needs, goals, and most importantly, a viewpoint in the story.
  3. The Distraction.  I’ve always believed that stories in which the hero can focus exclusively on the main problem until he has seen it through to completion leave a lot to be desired, so I always provide a rat to gnaw at the hero’s ankle while he’s trying to deal with the wolf at the door.  This, too, is a person with a viewpoint, as opposed to a volcano or a weather front, and they’re sometimes on the same side as the hero, but working at cross-purposes.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

This was my outlining method until a few days ago.  It is, in fact, my outline for The Darklighters.  Down the left side are twenty blocks, each marked with the numbers 1 through 3, corresponding with the characters named above.  Beside each number is a couple of sentences describing the main points I want to make in the scene, and this has been it for quite a while now.  Gone are the full-page descriptions of a single scene; I write from this single page, and it has been working well.  But keeping track of peripheral things has been a handful.

Enter the Word Excel Worksheet.  We all know these.  Many of us create them at work, and many of those who don’t create them have their work guided by them.  Like nearly all writers, I work in the copy of Word I bought for my computer, and Excel has been sitting there unused literally for years.  No longer.

I didn’t invent the idea of using Excel as a writing tool, but once I saw it mentioned on a blog I was reading, the potential of it gradually developed and came together in my mind until I had a working template, which is what I’m going to share here.  I apologize for the graphic.  I spent a couple of days trying to collect a screenshot, but failed.  Luckily, my digital Sanyo just does what I need when I need it, so this is a photograph of the screen.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Left to right, the columns are as follows:

The first is the most basic information, Act and Scene.  I aim for twenty scenes, and highlight each one in green when the first draft is completed.

The second and third are the date and time that the scene takes place.  These columns will ensure that the scenes take place in daytime or night as appropriate, and will prevent that odd occurrence where a character is in Los Angeles, and shows up in New York an hour later.

The fourth column is the viewpoint character color coded by identity; blue for protagonist “Jinx,” light blue for Bender, red for the antagonist, and yellow for the distraction.  This is how you adjust the pacing, and verify it at a glance.

Column five is a couple of sentences that describe the scene you intend to write.  Due to the nature of spreadsheets, you can make this as long as you like, and if you want a couple of paragraphs for planning, go ahead and put them here.

Six is the location where the scene takes place.  Used in conjunction with the date and time, this (and column 7) will prevent any impossible juxtapositions.

Seven is the major characters present in the scene.

Eight is the target number of the total words for the story to this point.  I aim for 1,000 per scene, total of 20,000.

Nine is the number of words in the individual scene, counted by Word with a mouse click.

Column ten totals the numbers in column 9 so far, giving me a running total of the story’s length so far.

This sheet allows me to keep track of every aspect that is important to me as the purveyor of my little action/adventure tales.  If you write romance, you could add a column to track how the love triangle is developing.  A detective writer could track clues, or how close the detective is to making sense of them.  If you decide that a scene would work better in a different order, a mouse click moves it up or down.  This thing is magic!  My goal here is to convince you to give it a try if you aren’t already using it, and see if it doesn’t streamline your desktop.  Stop back later and let us know how it works for you!

View from the Blimp

I must say, I’ve spent a number of days now considering the prospect of offering all of my work for free here, and I do like it very much.  Stress of publishing, gone.  Stress of marketing, gone.  Stress of feeling like I must produce, produce, PRODUCE, gone.  Just thinking about writing whatever I like, at my own pace, without worrying about its marketability is one of the most liberating things I’ve done in a long time.  Independence Day might take on a whole new meaning for me in the future!

The real beauty is that given its zero cost, I can still publish on CreateSpace, buy a dozen copies, keep some for the grandkids and give the rest as gifts, and if another copy is never sold, so what?  I will have had the enjoyment of the writing, and the people close to me will have books to keep and hold forever.  I like the sound of that…

In Other News…

PlotChart

You’ve seen Richie Billing’s name appear frequently here, and there are a number of reasons for that.  Today I present another: What’s the Plot?, part of his ongoing series about The Craft.  In this installment he defines what a Plot is in relation to character and story, and goes in-depth to study its creation and management, including tools to track and develop it, and links to one of the masters of the Craft, Brandon Sanderson.  Very much worth a read if you’re at all serious about writing with quality.

MorningStar

This is author Mark Carnelley’s review of The Morning Star by C.W. Hawes that Amazon mysteriously deleted:

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. June 4, 2018

In this first book of a gripping post-apocalyptic survival saga, author CW Hawes has given the role of leader to Bill Arthur, who while assuming command of his ever-growing band of survivors, struggles with the responsibility.  This is now a world where it is truly survival of the fittest, and those wishing to usurp his leadership will be met with the full force of his group, intent on keeping the “good from the old world” and old fashioned morality.  You would want to have a Bill Arthur in charge should you ever find yourself trying to survive in an apocalyptic event!  This is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ must read.”

All of us indies have a love-hate relationship with Amazon.  On the one hand, most of us would never have been published without them.  On the other, they arbitrarily decide based on who-knows-what that this or that review is invalid, and you never seem to lose a bad one.  I have lost a few, and I’ve never known why.  So even if you yourself aren’t a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, you may know someone who is.  Strike a blow for freedom against a monolithic dictator, and share this review with everyone you know.  Independence (and independents!) will be deeply in your debt.

Interesting Reads…

In keeping with the theme of Independence Day celebrated by Americans yesterday, I offer some Interesting Reads built around the theme of Freedom.

RoyalAmerica

First up is Royal America by Englishman Steve Moore.  A fantasy Western where the British never lost America.  The British Army make contact with the Apache and Sioux in order to create Native American regiments.  This is a British Western, where Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chocise, Victorio, Lozen, Queen Victoria and other historical names feature in an alternative history where the Aztec Spanish and the Imperial Chinese try to topple the Royal American Empire.  South West of what might have been… Price reduced to $1.99 on Kindle in honor of American Independence Day.

HeroesOfAeolyne

Next I give you Heroes of Aeolyne by B.P. Baggett.  Grand heroes of Aeolyne, they had been long observed by a mysterious force and led to a land where they all will soon meet.  Warriors and leaders that had suffered much and delivered freedom that is needed.  Soon they will all join the path to help deliver the land from the dreaded Dragon Dorica’lax.  Come meet these grand heroes and see their journey beginnings.  Free on Kindle.

Write… Chase Dreams… Repeat, a Facebook club managed, if I’m reading this right, by author Jennifer Johnson.  What appears there is mostly romance, which I never got into, and don’t promote much because I don’t know how to tell you that this one is of high quality, and that one is somehow lesser.  Other things do appear, such as the fantasy above, but I don’t find much to promote from there.  Nonetheless, they have never declined, deleted, nor even questioned any post I’ve put up there, and I just want to show them some love.  If you’re interested in primarily romance by volume, but basically any genre, be sure to look in here.  This is a busy site with a lot to offer, and they are very definitely on my “A” list.  Just tell ’em the Blimpster sent ya!

And Just for Fun…

EnsignsLog

Many of us had our first inspiration to write science fiction provided by some version of Star Trek.  This monster of a franchise began on television in 1966 and has run through a number of movies and television series to remain in production to this day, 52 years later, and it still continues to inspire.  So, where’s the fun?  Glad you asked.  Two podcasters, Steve Shives and Jason Harding, are currently producing a series of podcasts called The Ensign’s Log.  This follows the adventures of two rookies, Ensigns Barclay and Riker, aboard the Enterprise of Captain Kirk…  Although they certainly can’t call it that!  But if you’ve ever wondered what the junior staff was doing while the heroes were off acting heroic, this is your chance to find out.  They have 12 episodes posted for your listening enjoyment, and they follow in order the episodes of the original series.  So pop open a cola and dig in.  This will get you thinking on many levels!

And that’s 30 for today.  I’ll be back Sunday with more thrilling tales from the Lands that Never Were.  Until then, read well, and write better!