Friday, 13 November 2015

Book 2 Teaser

As I've been hard at work writing the next installement of the Seth Donovan Novels, I thought I would offer a snippet and a teaser for avid readers. Above, is the first draft of the cover, and below is a portion of Chapter 3. If you want any more...well, you're just going to have to wait ;)

I sat at Maxine’s small conference table, admiring the bright pink nightgown she wore while nursing a coffee. She sat at her writing desk and stared out her fake porthole. I say it’s fake because although it looks exactly like a real one, in fact it’s a high definition hologram depicting the outside of the ship. She can program it to show absolutely anything, from deep space to nebulae, I even once saw her gazing out at a scene that showed us underwater. This time she had the real sensors on the ship relaying her the images of Jump Space. The light from the myriad patterns and colours lit her face up and painted it all manner of shades.
“Don’t stare for too long, you’ll go blind.” I said.
“Bull shit.” That was Max, blunt and cutting through the crap.
“Just a rumour, is all.”
“It’s beautiful. I could stare at it all day.”
“Is that why you’re cross eyed?”
She laughed and threw a pencil at me, “Arsehole.”
“Thought I’d pop up a bit early before the meeting. See how things are going.”
“How’s your pilot training with Crege?”
I grunted.
“That good, huh?”
“We shift into Gossamer in forty two hours. You going to be fit for duty then?”
“I should be. Leg’s healing well enough. Zoe tells me the nanites are almost done, but they itch like hell.”
“You big baby. Itching is good. Don’t let her catch you scratching at that nanite patch.”
I pulled my hand away from my thigh, where I had been subconsciously scratching at it. “What’s with all the meetings? Not happy with the plan?”
“There’s too many variables, too many what ifs. We’re running low on just about everything; food, manoeuvring fuel, spare parts, polycrete foam, credits. Most of all credits. We need some ideas on how to cash up for the repairs we sorely need. Any more damage and we run the risk of being labelled a Junker. Your grandfather will never let me live it down there.”
A Junker was a derogatory term for a ship that is perpetually poorly maintained. The shit boxes of the galaxy. Once a ship gains that kind of notoriety, it’s very hard to get rid of it. Finding good crew to run a Junker was next to impossible, but many low skilled space farers can sign on the Junker ships. You didn’t need a good reputation or a great resume to be hired on one of those. It was a vicious cycle.
“Old Hieron would understand. He already approves of you, it’s not like he can take the ship off you anyway.” Hieron Donovan was the longest serving Captain to ever own the Dreaming of Atmosphere. He held the job for over seventy years, and helped build the business and the reputation that the ship had in the Network. She was known as a reliable courier and hardworking ship, a model that all Captains since had worked to maintain. My grandfather was a somewhat eccentric Eridanian who retired many years ago and lives in seclusion on the tropical ocean world of Oceania in the Votus II System.
“Ha, don’t think for a moment that he wouldn’t fly out here just to chastise me for letting his ship fall into disrepute. He might even give it to someone else just to teach me a lesson.”
“Now that you mention it, he probably would. He’d probably relish the idea of coming out of retirement and being Captain one more time to finish the job.”
“If he does, he’s more than welcome to it.”
“Not a chance, his current wife would skin him alive.”
“Which one is his current wife? Elinda?”
“No, she left him about six years ago. Madeline is his seventh and current wife. Last time he wrote me though, he was having troubles again. He calls it his wandering eye.”
“He’s a dirty old man, is what he is. He needs to settle down with a woman his own age.”
“Ha, I don’t think anyone is his age. Let alone a woman who’d put up with this craziness.”
We both enjoyed a laugh, which died down to a comfortable silence, as we were both lost in thoughts of family and friends.
Max broke the silence first, “We should pay him a visit, when all this is over. Take a much-needed holiday. He’d want to know about Eric, and he should find out in person.”
“Agreed. He might even be able to find us a nice paying job as well. Votus II isn’t a bad system to work if you know people.”
“There’s something we need to talk about though.”
I sighed. I knew the score. “Have you talked to her yet?”
“No, I wanted to talk to you about her first. I want what’s best for both of you.”
“Okay. What do you want to know?”
“You’ve been together a couple of months now. Sorry if it’s being a little personal, but I need to know your intentions towards her.”
“Haven’t given it much thought, to be honest. Been taking it day by day. I love her, she loves me, and so far that’s been enough for both of us.”
“You know, and she knows, that she has a place here with us permanently if she wants it. We haven’t had a medical officer like her for a long time. Nevertheless, I know she has other commitments. Finishing her studies, for one. Her mother on Kanto Prime is another. She was hired under the pretence that this was an internship, I doubt her university would accept it if we just stole her from them.”
“What can they do?”
“They can sue, for one.”
“Under what grievance?”
“Loss of prestige. She is a rising star in cybernetics and biological augmentation. Universities like to pimp out their star pupils and alumni to big research initiatives and Corporations. They can sue for loss of prestige, which for them means less research grants and funding from governments.”
I thought hard. What should I do? I did not want to let her go, but I didn’t want to get in the way of her career. If she went back to studying, it would effectively mean the end of our relationship. There was no way I could ask her to wait for me, not when every time I go through a Jump Gate I lose three months of her life, six months if I want to come back. Alternatively, I also didn’t want her to be in danger as much as we had. Not all our jobs were as life threatening as this one, but they certainly weren’t always easy courier jobs. Even standard courier work can be dangerous. Space, to use a cliché, was dangerous by definition.
“I don’t know what to say. It can’t be my decision. That much I know.”
“You need to talk with her. Soon. Her year is already up; by rights we should already have had this chat with her a month ago.”
“Alright, I’ll try and bring it up with her sometime.”

I nodded, “Soon.”

Friday, 6 November 2015

Am I Iron Man?

Now that I'm trying my hand in earnest at writing, a few questions have started to pop into my head. I have several RPG products in circulation, a few samples of artwork created using various programs, and now a book. I'm not making a living from all these works, though. They're a hobby - a hobby that pays for itself mind you, but a hobby regardless.

I was asked a question at a social function the other day that I normally have no problem answering, but this time it gave me pause. The gentleman asked me "So, what do you do?" he was referring, of course, to how I make a living. I'm an electronics engineer by trade, working in the biomedical engineering industry. But to be honest, this is just my day job. To some, it might appear as if it was a career. I suppose it is, really.

But it's not my passion. I can't very well say "I'm a gamer!" because that would make him think I wasn't taking his question seriously. I was flush with pride at myself, at the time, from my recent release of my first novel and wanted to turn the conversation to that. So I smugly said "I'm a writer!"

Even as I said those words, I felt a little foolish. I don't make enough money writing (or publishing game books) to quit my day job, and I clearly spend more of my day fixing medical equipment than I do writing, but here I was proclaiming myself to be a writer. The next thing that came to mind was Tony Stark, during the movie Iron Man, when he blurted out "I am Iron Man!"

The more I thought about it, though, the more I actually liked the idea. I was writing. Almost every day, actually. I was enjoying it, and planning to do a lot more of it. As with my game books, I don't do it to make money, I do it for my own personal enjoyment. It sure would be great to be able to quit my 9-5 job and do something like writing fulltime, but that's a long way off from happening. I'm terrible at marketing, for example. I don't like paying for advertisement, I don't like endlessly posting on social media and I find it hard to talk about my work in a professional way (I just get so excited!).

I was reading through some other author's blogs, looking for nuggets of wisdom for breaking into the industry (or just about anything really), and stumbled across something that really struck a cord with me. It was on author Ben Bova's website at and under the Writing Tips section was a response to a written letter. I won't post the whole reply, but this paragraph sums up what I've been feeling, and why I answered that gentleman's question like I was Iron Man:
Ben, sir, you are a genius (and a bloody awesome writer).

<"The question, "Am I writer?" is irrelevant. The real question is, do you want to write? Writers write. You get up every morning and hit that keyboard. You get the words down and build stories. You might have to do other things to keep groceries in the pantry, but above and beyond everything else, you write."

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Book Launch!

The book Dreaming of Atmosphere was released today, making me officially a published author (beyond game books, that is). If you're a fan of science fiction, or aren't but looking for an excuse to be converted - give it a try! Book 2 is about 50% written, so if you read this and want more, have faith!

Go and get it!