I’m back safe and/or sound, though the rumors of my soundness seem to be greatly exaggerated. I know several of you are wondering why I don’t post stuff before or during RM when I go, but that’s purely for safety reasons. So I save it all for now.
I am so absolutely positively grateful to have been among my fellow Realmies again. I MISSED YOU GUYS SO MUCH! Awkward hugs and high fives all around.
The highlight in many ways was getting a chance to talk more than a couple times with Frank Piretti. I mean come on. As his keynote mentioned he felt like (and we all concurred) he is a professor emeritus of so many of us Christian authors out there. Particularly spec fic. I just wish I’d have gotten a picture with him, and not just with him talking to my wife at breakfast. (sorry, not sharing. too personal and private. Plus it’s a bad angle, for both.) So here’s a different candid shot. See if you can guess the author by their hands. LOL.. just kidding.
The best moments from cons like this are often the candid ones not in classes and just by happenstance. You also never know who you’re going to touch and who will touch you back. The Clevandence sisters (apologies if misspelled) made my night at the book fair when I asked her what her favorite scene was in my first book, and I loved the writing of that same (grisly) scene too. It was a real highlight for me to talk like that.
For those who don’t know or realize, authors often love hearing back from their readers personally. Especially for us small indie authors. Too often we publish into the void, like every author and never know if we touched your lives. To hear when we do brings us all a spark of joy. Of course if we ticked you off, sigh, please extend us grace. We’re sensitive souls and may know the thing that ticked you off wasn’t our best efforts to. Kinda like a sports star who has a famous bad play regrets their mistake too. But still, it reminds us we’re not alone. We are touching others out there. So never be shy with your (positive) feedback, and be gentle (but honest) with us when we goof.
This year, my darling bride got me to cosplay for the awards banquet. It was a spectacular time. She had a whole backstory about the 1950’s librarian who’s favorite hero came to life for her. The story evolved through the night and was quite quite cute. But I have several pictures I got with people I have a real soft spot for in my writing career. Some I can share.
I was very happy to be friends with two winners of the Realm Awards. Very proud of their achievements that night and had some great conversations with so many people.
All in all, going to Realm Makers was a wonderful reminder of the good things in life. This last 24 months since I was at RM in the flesh has been a rollercoaster. In many ways I’ve ended up in a far better place, but at times… just I’m reminded to be grateful for what I have.
Oh, and I have leftover paperbacks and a few hardcovers from the consignment store. I’m toying with doing something special with at least one set of the books, but am also considering selling a couple sets of autographed copies. What do y’all think about that? Of course, I’d have to figure out how to set up a store, paypal and all that. I dunno what options are available. We’ll see though. Of course, if you want to encourage me, let your thoughts be known in the poll below.
This is the question I’ve been hearing in my head a lot lately. When talking to other writers trying to get going with their first project, or more importantly, with my own work. It’s the question at the heart of every Stephen King novel (by his own admission during an interview) that drives him to completion. It’s driven me through every tabletop RPG I ever ran. If the characters have a lot of stuff, steal it/break it/lose it. If they are sitting around doing nothing, attack them. Basic D&D fare, but it keeps the players entertained and gives hooks to hang a plot on.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the little brushes I’ve had with Post-Modernist philosophy as I sit there watching the world burn around me in this soon to be Post-Covidiocy world with monetary collapses, market collapses, and the death of western civilization staring me right in the puss.
“And then what happens?”
As a spec fic author, this is really important when I start considering the future. How much of it will be Mad Max? How much “1984” or “Brazil”? Will it be “A Brave New World”? Anyone for “Soylant Green”? Or will it be all of it with a side of “Hunger Games”? My money’s on “A Brave New 1984 in Brazil while having Soylent Green for Tea with Mad Max”.
But it’s also got me thinking more deeply on the roots of creativity thanks to a video by “The Quartering” who talked about the new “Cruella” film being a female version of “Joker”. Mind you, I’ve seen the spoilers and went…. really? Not my cup of tea, but at least the fans seem to like it so who am I to criticize too severely (of course to laugh yourself silly, See the “Pitch Meeting” video on Youtube lampooning it… come to think of it, that’s really what got me into the question I’ve been facing lately.
BTW, all this pop culture jargonist mish-mash has been in service to my point today.
What all this spawned in my head lately was this: If Post-Modernist philosophy posits the smashing of the old symbols, semiotics and semantics in which to create new things out of the wreckage (think mashup music, crossover films, retellings, trope twisting and pop culture pile ups like “Ready Player One”… none of which am I criticizing because I LIKE much of these things) at what point are the symbols so broken down that they become the fertile soil for the creation of NEW ideas?
Yes, yes. Stop there now. I know “there’s nothing new under the sun”. This has all been done before. I, for one do not believe that history repeats itself, but lean more to the “but it does rhyme” school of thought. I’ll go so far as to say it will also riff and ad lib too. The broad tropes/genres/mediums will always exist to some degree for they speak to the human experience, but consider the evolution of how mankind reacts. How does it cycle through history? There’s always been horror stories for instance. But what was once cautionary fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm have evolved to slasher films and torture porn of today thanks to mankind’s memory and boredom for the familiar.
So, now that I’ve committed to using up my allotment of “Quotation Marks” for the month… I’ll sort of get to the point of what I’ve been pondering. When will we start seeing some new and “truly unique” creative endeavors in entertainment? When will it stop being a recycling of “Star Wars”, or a perversion of “Superman”? Is it possible to break free from the Pixar Formula? Will we finally be far enough removed from nostalgia porn to want to put something great and new that can thrive on the silver screen instead of just crappy imitations of the masters who came before? Are there any masters left or do we have to wait till we are sufficiently removed from them to finally have new ones show up on the scene again?
How many people know or have read great authors or playwrights from the Roman empire? Beyond Cicero that is, but that also belabors my point. There’s a good chance that the tens if not hundreds of thousands of artists who existed then, and may have created great works are lost to time. Destroyed by neglect or burned up in the destruction of institutions like the Great Library fire. Some may say that’s the same conundrum looked at by sci fi in dozens of books/shows/movies as they try to save mankind from becoming extinct. But that type of extinction seems to be central to existence in this world. Species go extinct. Houses rot away and are reclaimed by the land. We are just dust in the wind, and so are our ideas.
I look at my own work and wonder if it will stand the test of time? In 500 years, assuming the Rapture didn’t happen, will my books be remembered like “Pilgrim’s Progress”? Or even “The Chronicles of Narnia”? Now that would be the real achievement! The real blessing of God. At least in heaven I may know the true impact of my work. But on earth?
I mean, consider one of the greatest films of all time that was on the verge of being forgotten till someone missed the deadline to renew the copyright and it lapsed into public domain: “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Thanks to that mistake, the movie was run almost non-stop at Christmas in the US because it was cheap and nobody wanted to work in the TV station on the holiday so it was discovered by a whole new generation of viewers, and was reborn without ever having changed. An artistic resurrection.
So what fertile soil is coming from the grinding down and emulsification of the symbols of western civilization as multi-culti-green-globalism tries to roll over everything? What new fronds will grow up from the digested mass media and symbols that once were considered holy and proud? Even my own “Tales From the Dream Nebula” is supping on small pieces and inspirations from dozens if not hundreds of sources, drawing itself a new vitality from the loam of creative history. Am I making something new and fresh, or am I making a mosaic out of the pieces of entertainment symbols as I dance in the graveyard garbage dump that is the current state of pop culture?
Early in my writing endeavors that I realized there was a chance my books would be my only bid for immortality in a world where there is no immortality. With no prospects for progeny, this was where I would grasp the mane of eternity and attempt to hang on as long as I could. But in the end, just like every artist that came before me, how long would it be before I was forgotten. Would it be the day after I died and my manuscripts were thrown into the trash? Would my tombstone wear away in the rain? The internet is not forever. It must have electricity and human desire to persevere… or would (as some would believe… not me) some A.I. rise up and delete all of man’s history in a microsecond? None of us know for sure, but we who create all hope to be the exception to the rule, and are re-discovered like “Beowulf” or never forgotten like Homer’s “Odyssey”.
So we circle back to the original question, but now standing on top of a giant societal “Butte Des Mortes” and cry out to any who will listen:
I wasn’t sure this was going to happen. Really really wasn’t, but I put it on the altar for the Lord to make the decision.
This last week I got my answer. The City and County of St. Louis dropped their masking mandates and the hotel is being all mealy mouthed on following local ordinances. So I’m going back to Realm Makers! (Those of you on my Discord channel learned about this last week of course.)
So cue up the house sitter so the cats don’t get lonely-
-aaaaaaaaand it’s time to go hang out with my fellow Realmies in the flesh again! I’m so glad it’s back in St. Louis, even if it’s now an extra 3 hours of drive time for me. At least the first half of it is going to be very pretty coming out of the mountains.
I’m not sure if I’m going to do the consignment store this year. I could, and I have something I can get for the gift bag if I can find a printer in time. I really didn’t prepare because I didn’t expect to go. Oh well, even if I don’t bring anything since finances will be tighter this year, it is still going to be very much worth my while.
I guess what made me the most enthused about this year is that the guest of honor is Frank Piretti. His “This Present Darkness” was the book that made me realize that you could write about the spiritual warfare side of Christianity in a refreshing and interesting way that was an evolution of a pair of my all time favorite Christian books, “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis. Seriously, if you’ve not read those two, check them out. Amazing stuff. Piretti took the concept and ran. If things are going berserk in your life and you have no idea why, I highly encourage you to read “This Present Darkness” too. It may make some personal sense to you.
As for my writing, I’ve been getting scolded for leaving Akiniwazisaga on the back burner too long in my alpha reader’s eyes, and I have another fan who’s been telling me to hurry up so she doesn’t run out of series to read. She doesn’t want to wait for the conclusion of the story. Thanks guys.
Lately the writing focus has continued on the third novella in the Tales From the Dream Nebula series. Making sure you all get your money’s worth out of it before I let it out the gate. The first two novellas have hit the editing stage, and once that’s complete, we look at doing the script for the graphic novels.
One big discussion that’s started up though has been merchandise. I’m curious to hear what others would love to see as merchandise to buy from Akiniwazisaga. Apparel is coming (yes I know I’ve said that for a while, but we’re finally getting ready to move on some of this. The easy answers are of course typical book merch like coffee mugs, posters and bookmarks. There’s been some talk of different things too (I personally want a life sized plush version of Bergamot, but oof, the cost of making custom toys. I don’t even want to think what it would take to make Popvinyl toys even. A much bigger fan base to be certain)
Anyway, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on merch ideas they’d love to see associated with Akiniwazisaga or the characters.
So as I was perusing my posts, I realized a post I never got out the door was sitting there for TWO YEARS now! I feel bad about that, but as I read it over, it was a time capsule of sorts of how I felt in August 2018, you know… before the world went mad?But I realized that was a thought I wanted to express, but apparently just didn’t hit post. So here’s a blast from the past that I think is potentially even more relevant in the age of the Wokestasi’s cancel jihad. So, enjoy.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Gosh… it’s been already 2 weeks since I went to Realm Makers Conference. (If you want pictures… I need likes. Come on, you know you want to see some cosplayers being super cool, yah? Like my last post.)
Since then, a detail started nibbling at my mind in regards to writing in general. Now, this is in no way a criticism to any writer, editor, publisher, agent… but it’s had a bit of an influence on me and my future with writing.
The shelves of the consignment store and merchant tables were full of excellent books. That said, I realized as I flipped through the pages and read the blurbs on the covers something was missing for me as a reader: there were so few books written for me as an audience. The protagonists were almost exclusively female, or minorities of some type, be they actual aliens or a sub-culture dealing with issues I could not even begin to relate to. I felt lost in books that should be speaking to my love of literature. I was at a conference devoted to Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy writers after all, and I did purchase a few that spoke to me. Perhaps this is part of why I have returned to the classics like “The Comte De Monte Christo”, “Huckleberry Finn” and “Oliver Twist”.
As I tried to make sense of it all, I kept hearing a statement ringing in my head that several people had told me: “Boys don’t read”. They are too busy or just not interested in sitting still to read. Any number of reasons/excuses have been foisted about. From video games to their active nature just keep them from sitting down and having a good read.
Then it hit me that there may be a second part to this equation as I considered all the books I perused and did not buy:
There are blessedly few books written FOR boys anymore!
Almost all the focus is on serving anyone but boys, and there is good reason for it too in regards to an economic sense. Girls do read more so there is more money in it. They read earlier and spend more on books. Of course, stories traditionally written for boys have been gender swapped because some girls like a bit of adventure and daring-do too.
So now we get stories of Katniss Everdeen instead of Ender Wiggins. Nancy Drew instead of the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift and his Electric Brain is replaced with Bella Swan and her Sparkly Relationship. Yes, I partially mock and those books have every right to exist side by side on the shelf. May the best story win. On the other hand, what if it isn’t an even playing field? What if books for boys are being edged out of the market place for plausibly good reasons… but not really?
What if it’s more the case that boys aren’t reading because nobody’s writing anything they want to read? Or worse, talk down to them in books they want to enjoy. Where is the next Johnny Quest? Today we’d only get that if you made Johnny, Hadji’s sidekick and either made Dr. Quest be in a gay relationship with Race Bannon and Hadji would have to be his adopted daughter. Sure there’s an audience, and any boy who grows/grew up in a traditional or typical American or western household… these are hard to relate. At least that’s what seems to be en vogue for traditional publishers. I didn’t come from a culture of diversity and inclusion with more variety than a Christmas fruitcake. I came from a monoculture that saw other cultures as something to respect as having their place too. I’m a firm believer in the Great American Melting Pot of people united by a chosen common culture.
Even Christian publishers are pushing for “diversity and inclusion” over good story. How diverse were the good old adventure pulps and sci fi? They always pushed at the boundaries of society. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. They were products of their era after all.
But how many men remember nights as boys, hiding under the covers reading an exciting book well past their bedtime. Just one more chapter! Waking up with a dead flashlight or their face stuck to a page they don’t remember reading? I sure do and I wasn’t that big a reader till I was a teen. The thrill of amazing stories and exotic places
But I had stories I wanted to read! Passionately! I loved anthologies of short ghost stories and adventure and sci fi and all the other things that made me dream of bigger horizons than could be found in my life. Stories that spoke to the problems of young boys like Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade from “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. Books about girls coming to terms with their issues are now a dime a dozen, but how boys become men is now almost a taboo topic.
I feel there’s a need to speak to boys and men in literature again. Tell the stories they crave of bravery and great feats of daring-do. They are under-served it seems, and I for one plan to start serving that audience. For men who remember the boys they were and for boys who want more than just idle spectacle… and if girls or anyone else wants to join in the ride, come on board, and enjoy the adventure!
For the last few months, not so productive. Yes I’ve gotten some editing done, but I’ve been distracted. More precisely, I’ve been a bit… twitterpated. Some have accused me of being besotted. It’s unfortunately sapped a lot of momentum from my writing. But twitterpation is a darn good reason to not write much.
That’s because there’s wedding bells in my very near future, and with it, I am relocating. Yes, I’m leaving this land of lakes, cheese and beer with a big “O yah! See yah lader, den!” as we who are fluent in Yooper would say. And with that, I’m headed to the mountains of West Virginia to live with my soon to be wife. I wish my departure from the Badger State wasn’t so convoluted, but with Covidiocy running rampant and civil liberties being obliterated by panicked sheeple driven by power mad wolves in politicians clothing… well. Let’s just say the timing could not have been more fortuitous.
So I’m off, and hopfully when the dust settles in… :::whistles low::: 30 days, I will be building a new routine. One that hopefully includes a LOT more writing. Here’s hoping!
So what’s been going on?
Ohhhhh… A little of this and that, but primarily, I am up to the 3rd draft of TWO novellas. Yes, the Dream Nebula is taking shape. There are a few big opportunities coming with that I may have mentioned, or hinted at. I can’t quite reveal yet, but I will say this… I’m looking for an artist skilled in not only doing character ship design, but also sequential art. So if you’re one of those types of people who’s an accomplished/previously published comic book artist and is looking for a project to work on next, get in touch. Not kidding. If your style is right for what I’m about to dig into, I want to talk with you!
(Yes I know I said I was starting the 3rd novella shortly… see the above distraction/twitterpation explanation. It’s still coming. We’ll just see about when.)
And due to current world events, I’ve been getting an idea for a set of short stories. The idea had bubbled in the back of my head off and on for a while, but maybe it’s time I try my hand at flash fiction. You know, short stories/scenes/vignettes in this world I have coming pecking at me.
So, let’s see… getting married, moving, novellas, ummm…. flash fiction ideas…. what am I forgetting?
AH! oh yeah. Akiniwazisaga. Good news. Thanks to my computer frying it’s cooling block last week, I had to get back on my backup “Wee Beastie” and use it while waiting for it to get fixed. When I did that, I found a LOT of information I thought I’d lost, including maps and many other things.
As for music, I’ll be posting some new stuff sooner or later here. I finally got some made into video format. Why Propellerhead Reason won’t directly export into that format is beyond me! Ugh! Just requires a little editing and we should be good to go.
So that’s the news from the land of the mad, and this Cheesehead is going into exile… or becoming an expatriate for good. Only time will tell. So till the next update which will be coming at a much higher elevation and farther south in the hollers and the hills… This version of the song fits my bittersweet but looking forward to a joyous future mood.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I pray you made it to today in once piece, more or less safe and sound, happy and hale.
So why do I call last year an onion? Because 2020 sure stank and made most of us cry! I’m firmly convinced that it will be looked back on as the year before we entered the next dark age or came into a Golden Age.
It has been a factory farmed dumpster fire… In a flood… During a hurricane… That busted through all our living room windows… And turned upside down… to wreak havoc in our lives.
Many of us weathered the year better than others. Some had to learn the truth of the “pandemic” the hard way, while others are still terrorized by it. As for myself and my family, it’s been a very rough year both in the terms of health and employment, and is part of the reason for this update.
Now, I am going to strive to keep my politics out of this save for this one blast of steam from the relief valve. It’s been extremely difficult to do anything these days (write, work, live) in the era of #Covidiocy, #stolenelections and #justus for the implementation of “The Great Reset” which is poised to re-establish a new neo-feudalist world order and turn us all into serfs of a Godless world police-state. With the amount of stress, anxiety and depression I’ve fought against, plus a few new things in my life has made it very difficult to focus on things that matter to me in a creative sense. To realize what I’ve accomplished so far is pretty surprising. At least I’ve survived this plague that only kills 0.03% of all who catch it with no lasting issues. I expect things to change for the better in the future, barring a full on civil war/revolution. Okay. So now you know that we’re all struggling in these days, depending on your nation and state, some worse than others. I pray you all have kept safe, healthy and sane enough to keep living life in accordance to your conscience, and that God bless you all as He knows you need. Amen?
Despite all these hardships, I’ve been able to make ends meet thanks to God’s grace from a variety of sources, and some lucky breaks on keeping money rolling with new day jobs and assignments. I’ve had to swallow my pride on more than a few occasions, but I’m very grateful for all the positive things that happened to keep me afloat and in my home, fed and safe. Happy is a relative term of course. I make sure to get my sourpuss curmudgeon card stamped daily by the news and current events.
There have also been some personal triumphs as well, but those are for a later date. It has distracted me a bit from writing, and I apologize. In the long run it will be helpful and maybe facilitate even more writing. They’re not ready for the big public reveal.
One year ago, book 3 of the Akiniwazisaga (Into the High Places) still on Amazon came out. I personally think it’s probably the best of the series to date. Don’t let the lack of reviews fool you. But if you haven’t bought a copy yet, come on! It’s there! You’ll love it!
Since then, I have gotten about 30% through Book 4 of the series before I had to shelve it to focus my creative power on a new project that I hoped to have farther along by now: Tales from the Dream Nebula.
As I talked about last blog. Positive side, two novellas are done. The third is percolating in my head and is about to start rolling out soon enough as I can get some obstacles out of the way on the mechanics of the plot. Some great ideas have come up that I can’t wait to implement.
I hope that I will be putting out either 4 novellas for Dream Nebula this year, or finally finish book 4 of Akiniwazisaga. At least that’s my aspirational goal. I’m not a big believer of resolutions. I always manage to blow through them like a small town red light at 3am. So why set myself up for failure. Just sharing what I hope to accomplish and bring into your lives. Otherwise, I’ve been working on music from time to time, though I’m not sure where to put it out there to share with you all. Youtube has been getting a tad…. persnickety and I’m not thrilled about that. We’ll see what comes up and share then. It’s some nice stuff. Still working on the first movement of an actual symphony. Yes… an actual honest to God symphony. We’ll see what comes of it. There’s been some great learning experiences with that so far.
But anyway, in the spirit of your enduring with me, I figured I’d give you an early look at one of the first pair of scenes of “Tales from the Dream Nebula” as a thank you to you all. Mind you, this is like a third draft before going to an editor, so we’re not even talking beta read level, but fans be fans, and one should give treats and surprises to them from time to time. Yep, I mean it. Your fandom is deeply appreciated. In this era more than ever.
Synopsis: Tales from the Dream Nebula “Series 1 : Omnipresence” Episode 1 : “Dreams Within Dreams”
Tales of the Dream Nebula is a high Sci Fi fantasy adventure in the vein of classic Raygun Gothic stories. Think Flash Gordon meets Smokey and the Bandit with many other cyberpunk, film/neo noir, space opera and classic suspense influences mixed in. Earth is no more. Conquered by Xiao the Eternal who came from somewhere deep in space and conquered the planet, breaking it up into pieces, where the chunks of the planet floated as islands in an endless sky of breathable air. Meet Winston A. Harper, pilot of the tug, Sierra Madre. A man who is haunted by his past, drifting with the circumstances of his life. His partner Billy Joe Bob, a sentient industrial mechanoid haul freight with their tug, the Sierra Madre through the skylands that make up the remnant of Earth, living small and unnoticed in the blind spots of the new nations of a humanity subjugated by Emperor Xiao, for now.
Note: this is an early version, copyright M. D. Boncher. Final product may contain changes.
Black and white flickers of an ancient film entranced Winston’s eyes showing him illusions of an Earth and a culture that no longer existed. Like his life, it was carved up and lost to the Dream. He took another long sip on his sweaty tumbler and shifted in his favorite green couch. Heavy ice cubes clanked in the cut glass. A smile wanted to touch his lips, but faded away. The detective on screen caught the dirty little stool pigeon in another lie and was giving him the third degree after a sharp sock to the jaw. The bug eyed mousey little man whined and groaned as he spilled his guts. “Winston?” came the call from somewhere behind him. He tried to ignore it. His daughter, Emmy continued to play her quiet game on the living room carpet, pushing her dolls around in cars, making up her own stories. “Winston!” the woman’s voice was sharper. Had she gotten in the house, he wondered. “Hun, I think Mother is here,” his wife’s voice drifted in from the kitchen. Valerie was making lunch for him. Now he smiled at the clanking of dishes and the whiff of her barbeque ham sandwiches. There was a terrific pounding at the door, as Mother battered it with her fist. “Winston-on-on-nn-stonn!” Mother’s voice stuttered as her connection to his virtual home instance lagged for a moment. He sighed, she had hacked her way into his local server again. “Go away, Mother!” he shouted back, taking his eyes off the movie. He could hear Valerie leaving the kitchen to let her in. “Val! Don’t let her in. I don’t want to deal with her cheis today. There’s a reason I have the instance set private.” “Okay, Hun,” Val replied and went back to her cooking. Emmy ignored the racket and Winston turned up the sound. “Oh for the love of…” came the growl and with a terrific splintering bang, Mother forced her way through the locked front door in a spray of pixels and static that rippled throughout the home. “Nahq it!” Winston hollered spilling his brandy Old-Fashioned. He shot up off his couch and glared at her angrily. “Nahq it, yourself! Billy Joe Bob and I have been trying to contact you for three hours. You know better than to log out when you’re being unloaded! I’m hardly surprised I found you here in your own little Levitown nightmare of a shrine watching old movies.” Mother looked like a woman in her forties today, like she could have stepped out of the movie Winston had just been watching. A sharp gray suit with A-Line skirt and a bright white blouse and a string of pearls, gliding in the room on impressive impractical heels. Her blond-turning-white hair was in a tight bun, with two strands of long bangs framing her face. “In costume today, Mother?” Winston sounded almost amused as his dispatch agent sneered at him. “No. it seems your behnging server came up with this. Blended my avatar code in with your stupid movie.” “And so what if I’ve been down for 3 hours on the dock? Those lumpers normally take my whole break to get me unloaded. I’ve got another five hours at this rate. “This was a hot load, Winston. They started offloading you the instant you bumped dock. They’ve been done for hours and have been screaming at me to get you moved so they can bring in the next one! I do not appreciate being screamed at by overclocked Wirey warehouse managers every five minutes while you play ‘Father Knows Bankruptcy’. Which is what you’re facing I might add!” Val came into the living room, wiping her hands on a dishtowel. Her apron which Winston bought her to tease her domestic skills giving off even more of that ancient film era’s vibe. “Hun, would you like me to escort her out?” her voice was pleasant, but with a hint of iron as Winston’s private server security protocols leaked into her subroutines. “Try it and I’ll turn you into a thermostat subroutine, missy!” Mother snapped with a sharp taloned finger thrust at the simulation. “Nahq it! Fine, mother!” Winston shouted. “All of you, shut up and I’ll get off the dock and get rolling!” “That’s all we ever wanted,” Mother smoothed. “Wait. They said I was unloaded, but they didn’t give me a backhaul?” Winston said as he readied to exit his home server instance. “They decided to go with a different vendor. Since you didn’t leave right away, that dock lead decided he couldn’t trust you to deliver on time or follow their rules any more.” Mother said, arms crossed. “For sleeping three hours on his dock?” Winston whined. “This isn’t the first time you’ve pulled this stunt with them,” Mother reminded him. “He warned you there would be consequences. Once you’re moving, contact the guardpost on the way out to get further instructions.” “And what does that mean?” Winston shouted. “They wouldn’t tell me. Said they’d only give it to you in person as it were. Winston let out a growl that escalated into a frustrated scream and exited from his home instance.
The snap back to his sleeper cabin was jarring. Winston peeled off the induction rig headband and threw it back onto his bed rack with a tired groan and rubbed his eyes. The sleeper was just big enough for a generous bed, a small shower and kitchenette with impractical storage under the mattress and in cupboards over his head. Billy Joe Bob was knocking on the locked door. “Hoss, y’all gonna get up in there?” came the autotuned voice of his lumper. Winston said nothing and swung his legs over the side. His flight suit rumpled and feeling dirty for sleeping in it. No time to shower, so Winston grabbed his hat and opened the door to the cockpit. Billy Joe Bob glided backwards and got out of Winston’s way. “Mother’s all sorts of mad, and that dock boss has been bangin on the windscreen off and on for an hour. Paint’s busted up on the side of the sleeper but nothin’ that cain’t be buffed out,” the industrial mechanoid prattled on, like a dutiful but rather clueless deputy. Billy Joe Bob’s rotund torso bulged like a beer gut that vanished into a glittering pile of volcanic sand that surfed silently across the floor, picking up after itself as it went. His humanoid chest and head rode on top of that bulky core with massive brawny arms and hands made of the same glittering charcoal sand that poked out at the shoulders like he wore a sleeveless tee shirt. The BJB series of industrial mechoid was an incongruous mix of metal and grit but created a lot of flexible utility, plus it humanized him enough to feel personable to most people. Although a biologically modeled head was less efficient as a sensor suite, most industrial mechanoids preferred them. Or as the sentient ones, called, Indus, did. It helped with inter-sentient interaction. Nothing seemed to freak out bionts faster than a giant insectoid or incomprehensible sensor suite for a head. The particle shield was down on the canopy leaving the cab dark, lit only by the monitors and blinking LEDs. An angry red pulse from the comm suite indicated Mother was on the line. The large number of missed messages snarled at him in a red insistent font Winston grunted at Billy Joe as he took the few steps to the pilot’s chair. The co-pilot and navigator’s seats remained empty. Ever since he bought the Sierra Madre after his life was destroyed, they were never filled. Billy Joe sure didn’t need to sit in one and he avoided the pretense of that level of humanity. Winston flopped down into the seat, and the crash frame slowly descended, and wrapped him securely in place, he started to do a quick instrument pre-trip checklist. There was a smooth vibration as the grav fans could be felt through the hull of his tractor. Green across the board. His pair of bulk trailers reported back their hitches were working proper with a double hook and they were free of the dock and station-keeping. They were go for departure. The message continued their accusatory glare, till with a sigh, Winston raised the particulate shield and the outside came into view in a bright golden glow. The clouds went on forever in all the colors of the sunset with darker blots of green, black and brown skylands drifting among them. Like the islands of Earth before it was conquered and consumed by the Dream and its lord and master, Xiao the Eternal. Closer in, the huge industrial anchorage of Omnifeed’s complex was peppered with other draymen waiting for their dock. Some had only one trailer hooked on to their tugs and tractors, others were pulling sky trains with over ten over sized containers. The windows of his cab’s canopy slowly revealed more of this busy scene as the shield retracted extending a little past him, revealing the four huge open maws of his grav fans that compressed gravity and sucked in air with their usual dull rainbow flicker when more substantial than gas was sucked through and mangled in the compression. Winston threw on the Sierra Madre’s running lights and fired up his nav computer’s course projector. “Hoss, look out.” A man was flying to him on his Bumblebee flight harness from a tug parked danger-close. “That jackass.” The man, landed on his canopy over his head and started yelling at him in a language Winston had no clue about. “Get the behng off my hull!” Winston shouted and slapped the horn. A low chord of ear shattering sound cut through the hull. The irate pilot grabbed his ears and staggered. Winston smiled as the fellow driver was no longer cussing at him in his gobbledy tongue. Apparently he decided to tell Winston off without putting on his proper protective gear. One hundred and forty decibels at close range will do that. “Shut down number four, Hoss,” Billy Joe Bob said quickly. The careless pilot had staggered too far back and was close to being dragged through the fan. “Way ahead of you, Bubby,” Winston said, his hand already hitting the emergency shutdown for the number four fan just as the gravity well plucked the careless pilot up and fired him through its maw. The tidal forces, though no longer fatal, shot the man through its open vortex guards at hundreds of klicks per hour out the other side, zipping past Winston’s trailers like a musketball. His flight harness’s emergency safety protocols protected him from impacting another object. At least the man could float back to his tractor, once he regained his senses. “Uhhh…” drawled Billy Joe Bob in horror as the monitor tracked the man through space. “This ain’t gonna… this… Aww cheis.” Panic shook Winston wide awake. He sounded the horn again signaling his departure from the dock with two shorts and a long blast. The Sierra Madre left her dock behind and followed her assigned path toward the guardpost, an irrational part of his mind hoped that by getting out of there fast would somehow absolve what just happened. Winston said nothing. His mind whirling on what just happened. It was not his fault, he rationalized. That pilot climbed onto his tractor without proper gear inside a restricted area. The fact he saved his life by shutting down the grav fan in time made it all just a near miss. No one was really hurt. Right? Just pride and ego. Cheis, cheis, cheis. “You think we’re in trouble?” Billy Joe asked. “We’ll find out soon enough, Bubby,” Winston said, as he eased the Sierra Madre into their prescribed flightpath. Another call was coming in to his comm suite, priority one. Winston tapped the channel open. “This is the Sierra Madre, receiving you. Over.” “Sierra Madre, this is Omnifeed Control,” came the professional sounding AI voice. Their voices had been modeled on the ancient art of flight controllers’ speech. No matter what, everyone was equal in their eyes, or so the timber of their voice implied. “Go ahead Omnifeed Control.” Winston squinted as he fought to keep the fear out of his voice. “You are hereby charged with violating site safety rules as well as professional rules of conduct on site for failing to leave dock when ordered.” “He climbed on my hull! Without safety gear! I shut down the fan but it was too late,” Winston complained. “Blame him!” “Understood and he will be dealt with accordingly,” Omnifeed Control replied. Winston could hear the ‘but’ hanging unsaid. “Regardless, you have four violations of loading dock policy in the last five weeks. Your company is hereby suspended from all Omnifeed facilities for six months due to those violations. After that time you may reapply to be a certified carrier.” “Aw, come on!” Winston shouted at the AI. “For the safety incident, you are hereby personally permabanned from this loading facility.” The passionless words were worse than being cussed at. “I’m being permabanned for him violating your loading dock policy? He climbed on me!” “His discipline is a private matter. Be glad he was essentially unharmed. Your legal information has already been exchanged with his agent for the incident, in case there is permanent harm and medical bills.” “You have no right to do that!” Winston protested and slammed his fist against the armrest. “That is the law in accordance with Xiao’s covenants and protocols of commerce. Hail, Xiao the Eternal.” the controller said in Pavlovian reflex. “We, as a third party witness, must report what was recorded to maintain good standing with the empire. Omnifeed maintains the highest rating and will protect it with all due legal effort.” Winston let out a defeated sigh, and as if she could hear it, his comm bleeped again as Mother tried to get through. “Copy all that Omnifeed Control. Sierra Madre out.” The other comm continued to blink as he sat there considering his situation. Was this to be the final plunge? Will he be rockbound and sucking on the Imperial dole because he just couldn’t find work after they impounded the Sierra Madre? This was his last regular client. It was all low paying spot work from here on out. Last second frantic runs to cover for people who dropped the ball. Sure you could look the hero doing that, but the hassle. Oh my Xiao! The hassle! Winston flipped the comm from Mother open but said nothing. “It isn’t as bad as you may think, Winston.” Mother’s words were gentle. “It certainly isn’t good. Did the payment process out?” “Yes. We’re paid in full, so there’s a little money in the kitty, but you can kiss your insurance goodbye. I have several texts to respond to from Omnifeed, and that pilot’s lawyer.” “Did you see Omnifeed’s evidence?” Winston said with a little hope. “I did. He was at fault and so I might be able to get my lawyer in to provide a good defense and resolve this with some lost time and wages from him.” “Mother, did I ever tell you that I loved you?” Winston said with a smirk. Behind him Billy Joe Bob let out an arpeggiated laugh. “Eugh!” Mother let out a strangled groan. “You Biomes and your erratic emotions.” Winston knew she appreciated his sentiment, otherwise she wouldn’t have called him such a racist name. AIs were often just as emotional as humans. “Okay, I know we’re on the bubble, so what’s next, Mother. Am I untouchable now?” “Give me a minute to put some feelers out,” Mother said. At least she hadn’t abandoned him. Winston knew he screwed up but really, it wasn’t like he had been impairing himself on the job. She knew he slept in his home instance. It kept his own dreams away. Controlled. He flipped through his cameras to watch the Omnifeed facility recede behind him on his way back home in Pseudomaha. The big nanofabrication feedstock tanks dwarfed the skyland they were originally built on as it consumed the natural and turned into an artificial station. And then the facility disappeared behind a cloying yellow cloud of sulfur dust. “Hoss, you want me doin’ anything right now?” Billy Joe Bob asked. “You got chores left?” Winston asked eyes glazed over on the traffic sensors. The little blobs of blue, green, yellow and red, slid past with neon trails in the holographic hud. “Naw. Not really. Containers are empty and undamaged. We have an extra free day with ‘em before getting them back to Consolidated Freight for maintenance.” Billy Joe said “Rog that,” Winston said. “I got nothing for you then. Go on off duty and enjoy yourself. We should still have access to Omnifeed’s network for another hour or two of flight time. We’re slow go till Mother gets back to me.” “Rog that, Hoss.” Billy Joe went back to his rack up in the engine compartment with a slithering hiss of his utility liquid skirt leaving Winston alone with his worries.
It’s been a while because life has decided to be problematic. Between the fear porn called “the news” and lockdowns and joblessness and riots and presidential race follies… and just plain insanity of the world, it’s amazing I’ve gotten any writing done at all.
But I have. Not as much as I’d hoped, but seriously a nice chunk of first drafts are done.
But not on what you think.
I’ve been having a project gnawing at the back of my brain for a while and it’s finally demanded I put book 4 of the Akiniwazisaga on the back burner and let it come out. So, there will be a delay in that trilogy being completed.
In compensation for this, here’s what’s coming next:
Tales From the Dream Nebula
This will be another genre mashup. TFDN, as I abbreviate it will be a “Raygun Gothic Space Opera” fantastical adventure serial with elements of Cyberpunk, Nanopunk, and Neo Noir genres. The best way I can describe it is if you cross Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Smokey and the Bandit, Convoy, Dark City, The Matrix, and even elements of Battlestar Galactica, throw them in an industrial blender and hit “frappe”. If you’re looking for Tolstoy or Lewis, this ain’t the place. I’m aiming more for Edgar Rice Burroughs type of adventure. Great fun, with a little meaning to it, and some spicy scenes too. Will this be for the Christian market, you may ask?
I’ll say “Hhmmmmmm…no. It’s mostly for the general trade market, but an author can’t escape his own beliefs, so who knows what will pop out here or there.
This is part of a much bigger project I plan to do with this universe, too. So don’t just expect novellas and novels. Uh uh. There’s more but we’re starting with a series of 4 novellas, which are planned to release over 2021 if all goes according to plan. (The first two are entering editing, and the third is being started very very shortly.) Due to the nature of the project I may have to find a small press or publisher to partner with for the second part of this project.
What’s the second part of the project you ask? Heh heh… maybe I should wait till later to tell you about that. Let the theories grow in your minds till you’re pestering me for answers.
The big thing I’m going to need to evolve the project will be artists. I mean I am accomplished in some degree with art, but not something I’d consider press worthy. More like I’d have an occasional work that could be good for it, but I’m no Frank Miller.
So, there you go. This is the next big project coming. Not the one I expected either, but the one that must be. And although Book 4 of Akiniwazisaga is delayed, it won’t be for long.
As always, if you want to have some more regular interaction, join my Discord server (link above). I’m around pretty frequently. I will possibly have some more Realm Maker news coming up in the future weeks/months for fans of Christian Spec Fic.
Last week I kinda got some crummy news but it was wrapped with lots of silver linings. Lots.
I’ve survived the plague, and the lockdown, and have managed to crack out 20 chapters on Book 4 of Akiniwazisaga. The sad part? This may only be 20% of the entire book length. I’m not sure, but this bad boy’s going to be a whopper. If you want to keep up with the latest details on what’s going on in writing and life in general, you can check it out on my Discord Channel. Link above. It’s worth it.
it even gave me a chance to read some Realmie books I purchased last conference. Here’s some of them I bought:
Three resources for writing. Fight Write is a Realmie Resource I had to purchase after the Con, she ran out. Highly recommended
Some fun reading by fellow Realmies.
Speaking of Discord…
The news finally broke this year that Realm Makers 2020 conference has gone virtual, thanks mostly to the State of New Jersey unable to unclench long enough to pull their head’s out and take a breath. That means RM2020 is now a virtual conference, like all the other conventions and conferences all over the US stretching into next year. I just… I… Come ON people, you don’t quarantine healthy individuals! So here’s where the silver linings begin.
In the process of setting up for the virtual RM2020, we were told that it will be using Discord as a big part of it’s operation. I happened to be right place/right time cheerleading and helping out on a different RM related Discord forum and got the powers that be to understand what was happening and how the system works. Thanks to those fortuitous (yeah, I see God’s hand all over it) I became a moderator to help out with handling the training of a lot of conference goers and then assisting as a mod for the con! Woot! So that’s kinda fun to be on the inside of that one. A lot of energy has been spent on this setup and onboarding of writers from all over the world, it’s almost been a full time job.
Which leads me to the blessing in disguise of being laid off just as COVID19 shut everything down. So we’ll see how long it takes either to get a call back (ain’t holding my breath) or a new position. Till then, writing, RM modding and creative endeavors will fill my days, mortared together with job hunting.
What about those other creative endeavors? Music! I’ve mentioned for a while I’m doing music, well now I’m posting some stuff on my youtube channel, with more to come as I feel appropriate and have the time. Unfortunately the last song was too long, so Youtube rejected it. Will have to try with some others. Here’s one example.
I’m an enthusiastic amature, so take that into account.
And as sort of a bittersweet farewell to the idea of going to Atlantic City this year, here are pictures from last year’s RM to cheer me up, and for you to enjoy too.
Two of my fellow diners at the awards banquet. Elizabeth Liberty Lewis & Kaitlyn Emery
Cosplay competition finalists. The Leeroyyy Jenkins card won against stiff competition
Our MC, Mermaid Wonder Woman
Amazon Wonder Woman
Award Winning author Kerry Neitz
An outstanding elf costume
Dr. Strange runs this show.
Kerry Neitz and me, the cartoon before the movie
Sophia Hansen as Kaylee. Even had the strawberries.
Always bring a banana and an Edward Scissorhands to a party
The wonderful Sheraton Chalet Inn in St. Louis. What better place for Spec Fic authors to gather.