Category Archives: ‘Cause I totally ROCK!

Off to My Army of Beta Readers It Goes

Off to My Army of Beta Readers It Goes

Big sigh of relief and comedic happy dance in progress – but as of Saturday afternoon, I completed the 2nd rough draft read through and edit of Schicksal Turnpike.

Life really got in the way of getting these edits done. I’ve been talking about the 2nd edit for about two months now, maybe three.

Between family issues, the purchase of another decrepit house, some rather intense pain in my back, hips, knees, and feet and also an Airstream in dire need of fixing, things have been rather crazy around here.

I just kept reading a chapter or two at a time to my husband, and eventually worked through all 37 chapters. It is now at just over 90,000 words.

I have emailed copies and also printed copies – my printer labored on for a couple of hours as it spit out page after page – 377 in all!

And now I wait. For my beta readers to read and respond. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the Chronicles of Liv Rowan and digging into my book outlines. This project is huge – scary big and complex and I’m wondering if I’m ready to tackle it.

I may examine the possibility of writing the sequel to Gliese 581 first. I’m not sure. I’m a little nervous about tackling Chronicles – I have twelve separate stories outlined – and it is beyond intimidating. We will see. In the weeks to come, while waiting for my beta readers, I have time to figure it all out.

I hope to have Schicksal Turnpike back and then on to a content and line editor in the next month or so. I figure I’ll turn around twice and it will be Christmas – so here is hoping I can get it out on Amazon by November at the latest.

 

Jumping Into Orbit with an Astronomer ROCK STAR

Jumping Into Orbit with an Astronomer ROCK STAR

I’m feeling like I have just attained super-geek status right now. Giggly, “Oh my God, he spoke to me” kind of feeling. Step into a room and find greatness, kind of thing.

So let me explain.

When the news that a possible earth-like planet in the Gliese system was announced back in 2010, I was instantly captivated. Dr. Steve Vogt was in the news as he described his team’s findings. Fascinated by the idea, and with a story of a trip to this unknown and distant planet bouncing about in my head, I emailed Dr. Vogt.

Despite his busy, busy life fielding press and probably other dreamy-eyed writers like me, he wrote me back, which was amazingly kind.

When news of a Swiss team disproving his findings broke, and the news pilloried Dr. Vogt, I’ll admit, my project came to a standstill. I know it sounds silly, considering I’m a fiction writer and  all, but I actually wondered how I could write a story about Gliese 581g if the planet itself did not exist!

There was also the pesky problem of not knowing what the conflict point would be in the book, either. I had thought of a saboteur, but I couldn’t figure out what his motivation was.

It would be a couple of years before I saw the news of the James Webb Space Telescope and its scheduled launch date of 2018. I latched onto it immediately, changing the date (due to the conflict of The Collapse and the Second American Civil War in my War’s End books) to 2030. At that time, the increased abilities of the new telescope would “re-discover” Gliese 581.

I combined that with another story that was languishing in my Snippets folder, the Plague Tales, and combined them. The result was Gliese 581: Departure.

On a lark, I sent a second email to Dr. Vogt a few days ago. I wrote:

Dear Dr. Vogt-

Years ago, I emailed you when news of Gliese first broke. You kindly responded to me. I appreciated that, considering how inundated you must have been at the time.
It took a while for my vision of the book to fully form. But I wanted to share the news with you that it finally did. Along the way I spoke with a virologist, two nurses, and researched Chinese burial customs and proper autopsy procedures. Fascinating stuff. Gliese 581: Departure is slowly accumulating reviews. I will admit, that the reports that your findings could not be repeated saddened me – and caused a full stop for a little while on my literary endeavors.
That said, I am pleased to inform you that eventually you will be vindicated. I have attached my book for your reading pleasure. I would be happy to send you a paperback if you would prefer.
This is my first foray into science fiction, but it won’t be my last. I write cross-genre, so I have a Twilight Zone ‘esque novella to finish, and then a [oh dear god] TWELVE book fantasy series after that. But then the way will be free and clear for a sequel to this book.
I wish you well. Please forgive any assumptions this poor author has taken when assigning you descendants. I assure you they are of the highest character.
Best Regards,
Christine Shuck
Author, Community Educator, Homeschool Mom and General Malcontent
And today I received a lengthy response back from Dr. Vogt! I’m so excited to see this, and to learn, to my delight, that the possibility of Gliese 581g is still there!
I will admit to not understanding most of what is surely a dumbed down explanation of astrophysics. I’m including the entire email for your reading pleasure…
Hi Christine,
Nice to hear from you again. Yes, those were some crazy days back in 2010 when we announced GJ581g. I’m glad you decided to go ahead with your Sci-Fi novel. Thanks very much for sending me an advance copy. I will peruse it as soon as I can get some free bandwidth.
You needn’t be saddened about reports that others could not confirm my findings. Let me give you a bit of history and an update that you won’t find in the public media.
We worked on this result for many, many months, playing Devil’s advocate with our data and errors, to convince ourselves that we were on solid ground for claiming the detection of GJ 581g. We then submitted it to the Astrophysical Journal, the world’s premier journal of record for work in my field. It passed two independent peer reviews, both with flying colors. Indeed, our editor was/is also one of the world’s pre-eminent experts in statistical analysis, and literally “wrote the book” on statistical techniques in science. Even he agreed that our detection was rigorously significant using all the usual metrics for false alarms, etc. He even advised us that we were under-selling the confidence level of the detection. It was only after passing this rigorous peer-review process, and the paper was accepted, that we then organized the NSF press release announcement.
Several weeks after our announcement, the Swiss team from Geneva (the only other group then, and now, capable of providing confirmation of such a difficult detection) gave a talk at a conference in Trieste, Italy. At that conference, they verbally stated that they had an additional bunch of 60 new points of data, data that was also superior in quality to ours, and that they saw no evidence of GJ581g in their expanded data set. They did not provide that data in their talk, nor make it available to the public.
We were a bit disappointed in this, but could not respond in any way as they did not divulge any of their data. But we were skeptical, and so we simulated up a data set (actually we simulated 1000 data sets) using Monte Carlo techniques, that had the exact same cadence characteristics (they Swiss HARPS team doesn’t get to observe every day of the month, only in lunar bright time, etc) and signal/noise characteristics as their typical HARPS data. In these mock data sets, we inserted real signals at the periods of all the 4 known planets (b,c,d, and e) plus the ones we had claimed (f, and g). In doing so, we quickly convinced ourselves that, even if the Swiss had 60 more high quality data points, they would not have been able to either refute or confirm GJ581g. So we knew that their claim (that they would have been able to see GJ581g with their expanded, superior data set) was untrue. But since we did not have access to their data, we did not feel we could write this up and get it published in the peer-reviewed literature.
So we sat back, and waited, while we were roundly pilloried in the media about our GJ 518g claim being a false alarm. It was rather frustrating, and we were accused of being scoundrels, of grand-standing in order to get grants renewed, etc. etc. I was accused of making a “mistake” by assuming circular rather than eccentric orbits. All of this was complete and utter nonsense, but that was how it played out. And we just could not join the public discussion to defend our conclusions and data.
So we kept acquiring further precision velocity data on this system, and waited for the Swiss to eventually publish their data set. It took about a year of waiting for the Swiss to submit a preprint to the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, their equivalent of our Astrophysical Journal. That preprint by Forveille et al 2011 is attached fyi. Once we had their actual data set, I set about combining it with our data to do an extremely careful analysis of the joint data set and see what was what.
In doing this detailed analysis, we learned several things. First, the Swiss’s 4-planet Keplerian model was dynamically unstable, and was therefore manifestly unphysical. Secondly, we could not reproduce their values of Chi-squared, and RMS from using their 4-planet Keplerian model as fit to their data set. Digging in further, we realized that this was because they had omitted 5 of their data points from their analysis. These were specifically the 5 data points which had the worst fit to their model. They did this omission without disclosure. Indeed, they even stated in their paper that they had omitted no data points in their analysis.
Once we realized this, we re-did their analysis, including all of their data points, and omitting none. We also included the effects of planet-planet gravitational interaction, something the Swiss had not done, but that is critical for properly modeling this system. That kind of fit is called a dynamically “self-consistent” fit, and is generally not done as it requires a much more sophisticated level of numerical modeling. Anyway, our self-consistent fit, using their expanded data set, combined with our full data set, revealed that, after accounting for the 4 “known” planets b,c,d, and e, a statistically significant signal for planet g still emerged from the data set, with a period of 32-days, and consistent with a planet of minimum mass 2.2 times the mass of the Earth, and smack dab in the liquid water habitable zone. Furthermore, our 5-planet model was statistically superior to that of the Swiss, and was completely dynamically stable.
I wrote this all up and submitted it to the Astrophysical Journal to finally join the debate. Again, it passed several peer-reviews at ApJ, and was soon accepted for publication. Unfortunately, the Swiss’s Forveille et al paper had yet to be accepted by A&A, and to appear in print. So the ApJ editor put our accepted paper on-hold until the Forveille paper appeared in print. So we waited another 6 months.
Eventually, we gave up waiting for the Forveille et al paper to be accepted and to appear in print. And the ApJ editors just would not relent and let us publish until that happened. So we pulled the paper from ApJ and submitted it to Astronomische Nachrichten, a European journal in Potsdam. It passed peer-review and was published in only a few weeks. I attach a copy of that also fyi.
The Forveille et all paper was never accepted nor published. No doubt the A&A editors rejected it and they never re-submitted. They know they were wrong, and we called them out on it publicly. There is little they can say to change that. At the same time, the Swiss have had a habit of making their mistakes just disappear conveniently from the web. So, just in case they did this, I included all of their actual data in our A.N. paper, for all to see, for all time. Anyone can repeat my analysis, with all of the available data, and will come to the same conclusions I did.
So, even though the press has long since moved on and forgotten about GJ581g, the scientific peer-reviewed record shows that our result still stands, our analysis is the last and best word on the reality of GJ581g, and the available data and most sophisticated analyses all indicate that planet g exists, albeit with a slightly smaller period (32d instead of 36d) and slightly smaller mass (2.2 Mearth). What will it take to firmly confirm this planet? That’s a tough one. We already have many hundreds of data points. We’d need more than twice that data set to even begin to make further improvements (as I discussed at the end of our rebuttal paper). Also, this is a particularly complex system in that the 67d orbit could be either circular or eccentric. Slight amounts of eccentricity in the 67d orbit could be used to mask the signal from the 32d. So the reality or not of planet g is coupled to whether or not the 67d planet’s orbit has a small amount of eccentricity. This is a very tough thing to assess, even though we now know from KEPLER results of thousands of exoplanet orbits, that it is most likely that all of these GJ581 orbits are very nearly, if not perfectly circular.
So GJ581g still lives, at least according to the present set of available data, and the best and most sophisticated analyses of those data. But we have moved on to many other systems that are much simpler and easier to confirm. These are systems such as Kapteyn b, GJ 667Cc, GJ667Ce, and GJ667Cf. FYI, a list of these nearest potentially habitable Earth-sized planets can be found here:
Sorry for the long-winded reply. It is not an easy story to tell, and the version that played out in the public media would have one believe that GJ581g was merely a flash in the pan, another debunked result for the dustbin of history. Quite the contrary, it is still alive and well according to the official record, the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
I will read through your novel as soon as I can get some time. In the meantime, I wish you much success with its release. And I’ll keep my eye on the NYT list for its imminent arrival.
With all best regards,
Steve Vogt
So, yeah…My inner fan girl is squealing with excitement.
Let’s be honest, my husband can attest to hearing several squeals of excitement from me. What an amazing guy. He wrote a fantastic, long response and I’m so damned excited – to hear from him, to know that the non-existence of Gliese 581g was erroneously reported, and so much more.
Dr. Vogt, you made my week. I swear I’d hug you if I could.

 

Get Your Free Kindle Copy! Two Days Only!

Get Your Free Kindle Copy! Two Days Only!

Gliese 581-Departure

It’s time for me to stand on the street corner with my sign that says, “Read my book!”

And better yet, download it for free on Friday and Saturday!

The reality of self-publishing is this little thing we call marketing. But let me tell you a story first, because that is what I do. I tell stories – and some of them are even true.

Years ago, about a year after I first returned to the city of my birth, I went to work for Children’s Mercy Hospital. I worked in the Nephrology department. Nephrology, by the way, is the study of kidneys. Some doctors specialized in bedwetting issues, others in odd kidney diseases, all the way to kidney transplants.

Of the pool of doctors I worked with, along with three other secretaries, was this one firecracker of a doc. He wasn’t taking the transfer over to computers well. He especially was not interested in ever reading email, dealing with the new computer programs the hospital was pushing him to use, and he frequently would holler, “I don’t work with computers, I am not a computer technician, I AM A DOCTOR!”

He said it as if that answered everything.

I wish that I could flail my arms about and say that same thing – “I am a WRITER!” and have it magically make marketing go away.

But it doesn’t, so here I am.

So…

Consider this a friendly, upbeat reminder that my most recent book, Gliese 581: Departure will be available for download on your favorite Kindle device all day Friday and Saturday, June 3rd through the 4th.

I do this out of the hope that you will read it, LOVE it, and tell the world – starting with Amazon and Goodreads. I have provided the links there to both for your convenience.

Your opinion matters. Your opinion will make the difference between someone clicking “Buy Now With 1-Click” or moving on to the next Indie book in the list.

Download it for free.

Read it.

Review it.

And remember…

beauty

Not One, Not Two, But Three Irons in the Fire

Not One, Not Two, But Three Irons in the Fire

It’s my birthday today and I’m feeling spunky. Perhaps that’s why I’ve got not one, not two, but three projects in the works.

Knowing me, it will shake out soon and I’ll focus on one of them pretty much exclusively until the project is complete. That said, I’m having fun right now.

I’ve got:

  • The Chronicles of Liv Rowan – Book 1 – About 1/3 done
  • Start Your Own Houscleaning Biz – About 1/5 of the way done (I’ll have a jazzier title than that soon)
  • It’s That Easy – Cooking for the Kitchen-Challenged – Just started

I’m having fun with this last one, having settled (at least for now) on that working title and written my first chapter, Booty Calls and Pasta.

And because it is my birthday and I’m feeling quite chipper (despite my dad chipping in his “the sky is falling and we are all going to die” two cents for the day) and so here is the first chapter, unrefined, for your reading pleasure.

Enjoy!

©Christine D. Shuck

Booty Calls and Pasta

Let me tell you how I learned to cook. And no, it wasn’t at my mother’s knee. I love my mother, but you know that saying “she could burn water?” Really, I count myself lucky that I survived childhood.

I learned how to cook much later.

It all started with a booty call.

Christine, you can’t say that.

I’m pretty sure I can. It’s my book and I’ll say what I want!

Yeah but…

Zip it!

There are two me’s that you will hear throughout the book. Feel free to ignore the one in italics, heaven knows I do. That one in italics is a boring old rule follower. Me? I break rules. I run with scissors. I swim upstream. I eat at Red Lobster and I do what I want!

Yeah, yeah, you are a rule breaker. Got it.

In any case, as I was saying, it all started with a booty call, albeit a long-distance one.

[long-suffering sigh]

Fine. I grew up the child of divorce.

Really? We are going there?

Shut up, you! I’m trying to set the stage here and explain that really, it’s all about love and how cooking is love, but you…

Aw, that’s sweet! By all means, continue.

So it all started with a booty call and I’m a child of divorce.

[shakes head]

My parents separated when I was six and by the time I was seven, my dad had moved to San Francisco. I lived there with him, visiting my mom often in Flagstaff, Arizona, but growing up for a good part of my childhood and adolescence in San Francisco. I mention this because it is where I met my future husband. Well, my future third husband.

Yeah, this is sounding better and better.

My husband, having heard this, has added a request. “Can you please refer to me as your last husband? Because calling me your third husband implies there will be a fourth or that you are just waiting for Nathan Fillion to come swooping in and run away with you.”

My dear last husband has a point. So we will now revise that paragraph. Notice I have switched from “I” to an imperial “we?” In any case, in 1984, I met my future last husband, Dave.

This is completely relevant to this book, by the way, because nineteen years after not dating me in high school, in late January 2003, Dave flew 1,806 miles (I totally Googled that)  to Kansas City for a booty call. And the booty call is relevant because, as I said earlier, that is when I finally learned to cook.

Put another way, boxed dinners and broiled red snapper (which I haven’t had in nearly 20 years thanks to the distinct lack of oceans in the Midwest) does not count as cooking, people, that’s a basic “heat and eat” kind of scenario.

There, in my kitchen, confronted by the boy of my dreams (I had been ridiculously smitten with him since the age of fifteen) I was determined to make him fall in love with me. And so I decided the best way to a man’s heart was through his esophagus. I had read this quote once on a bus and never forgotten it. “I must cook for him,” I thought to myself.

The closest I came to cooking at that time was spaghetti, so I put on a large pot of water to heat and pulled out a jar of sauce and some hamburger meat and got to work. Dave watched me for a moment and then asked, “Can I help?”

“Um, sure.” A man who knew his way around the kitchen? I figured I had scored big time. Not only had he flown out to see me, but he was handy in the kitchen. I began to estimate the length of chain I would need to ensure he could be tethered in the basement, but still be able to make it around the kitchen to cook all of my meals.

Think Misery by Stephen King, only with a kind, caring psycho fan.

You can NOT say this. Everyone will stop reading!

Fine, I take it back. Sort of. I would have made sure the chain had padding and was all soft and fluffy. While I was visualizing that (not really, I totally didn’t think of chaining him up until later) Dave asked, “So, do you have any olive oil?”

“Sure.” I handed it to him and he poured it into the pasta water.

“Do you have any fresh garlic?” he asked.

“Um, yes I think so.” I located it and handed it to him, watching as he pulled off a couple of cloves, smashed them with the flat of a blade and tossed them into the water as well.

What sorcery was this?

Twenty minutes later we were devouring the best spaghetti I had ever eaten. He hadn’t stopped at garlic and olive oil. He had also found fresh mushrooms, white wine, and black olives to add to the sauce.

And that’s when I realized a serious truth. Cooking isn’t just about making a man fall in love with you. It goes the same in the other direction. Cooking is love. My belly, empty and plagued with nervous flutters for hours, was now warm and full. And all I could think of was how do I make this one stay?

And honestly, the last thirteen years has all been about that. Because ladies (and gents), I had found the man of my dreams, and he was a damned fine cook.

 

©Christine D. Shuck

Enter the Happy Dance

Enter the Happy Dance

Gliese 581-Departure

Self-publishing can be rather traumatizing at times. After four major edits, which included reading the entire manuscript out loud to my husband, I finally felt as if it was ready for publication. The road there was full of ups and downs.

In the next day or two, it will be live on Amazon and available for purchase in paperback and a Kindle formats.

For a limited time I am offering this book for free in exchange for honest, unbiased reviews. If you are interested, I will be happy to send it to you. Whether you have a Nook, Kindle, or just prefer a pdf, I’ve got them all, ready and waiting!

By the way, did you know that you can follow an author on Amazon? I just used my author page as the link. Click that yellow Follow button on the left-hand side and Amazon will automatically notify you, the reader, whenever a new book is released.

And now on to my next project!

Fighting Those Demons

Fighting Those Demons

I wonder what it would be like, what it would look like, to be confident and secure, inside and out at all times. I doubt I will ever know.

Unblocked

A few months ago I was interviewed for a new podcast, Unblocked, and was Charlie’s first interview. I just spent the last 30 minutes listening to it again. Charlie reminded me of it when she posted on Facebook, full of angst and self-doubt and it reminded me of how hard everything can seem at times – especially when it is your own personal creation.

It isn’t easy, whether it is a book, sewing a quilt, teaching a class, painting a picture, et cetera. You can see every mistake, remember every misstep, with keen vision.

But guess what? Just because you see it, doesn’t mean that others do.

It Isn’t Shit, it Just Needs More Detail

I mentioned it in the interview with Charlie, at some point in the book writing process I find myself reading to claw my way out of my own skin. It feels overwhelming, it feels stilted, it feels like unbridled shit.

It isn’t that my writing is bad, it is that I need a break, desperately.

Recently I handed over my Gliese 581 manuscript to my daughter for editing. It took a few weeks, and as the days wore on, I became more and more convinced.

“It’s absolute shit, isn’t it?” I asked her. She didn’t answer and I was sure I had done horribly, awfully, and wasted untold hundreds of hours.

Before she left for a short trip to New York, she gave me the edits to go through. Enough time had passed that I found myself drawn into the story – yes, it needed more – more details, more individual stories – but it wasn’t shit.

I think that these moments will never really leave me. They might occur in less frequency over time, as I continue to develop and grow my craft, but I doubt they will ever go away entirely. I’m probably in very good company. I seem to recall that even now, Stephen King will give a story to his wife, Tabitha, and watch her closely as she reads it. You know, in that needy way. Perhaps it is this way for everyone, who knows?

Gliese 581 Update

I’m actually pretty excited right now. After going through the edits and discussing the book at length, I’m adding in at least five chapters (that might sound like a lot, but I think there are already 25-30 chapters in there. They are pretty short chapters.), along with some more character development and individual character stories throughout the book. Yes, it means that I won’t be done, not for a few weeks at least, but it will mean a stronger, fully developed story will be created. Right now I’m at about 74k words, which should put me in the low to mid 80k range by the time I’m done.

It will take a couple more edits and a full read-aloud in order to weed out as many grammatical errors as possible. I would love to say it will be done this month and available by February 1st at the latest. We will see, however!

It is looking good and I’m feeling loads better about it. I can’t wait to share it with you!

My Interview on Unblocked

My Interview on Unblocked





I meant to post about this far earlier and life has gotten in the way!

A few weeks ago I sat down with Charlie, host of a new podcast Unblocked – which focuses on writers and all manners of writing – bloggers, authors, and more.

We had a lovely conversation on all things writing and I truly enjoyed the experience. Charlie asked some great questions about the writing process, my blogs, and some of my current projects.

I think it was a great interview and I hope you will take a couple of minutes to listen to it. You can find it here.

I think it is also available through at least the iTunes store, but I am unsure as to how to access it. If you click on the link above, though, you can listen to it online.




Tens of Tens – A Preview

Tens of Tens – A Preview

Gliese581

My work on Gliese 581: The Departure continues and here is another chapter preview for you to read. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave your comments, I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter!

Tens of Tens

Dr. Anthony Vogt bowed his head and rubbed his temples. The conference room table was strewn with coffee cups and stacks of folders and the room was in an uproar. It was the third meeting for the selection team in charge of the final selection process for the crew of Calypso. The first week had gone smoothly, but last week and this week there had erupted an ongoing argument into the question of whether there should be a representation of the major religions of Earth in the contingent.

The room had divided itself into three factions, those of faith, the atheists, and those who felt that there was some kind of balance to be made. Dr. Mendez was of the first variety, Dr. Lowenstein was quite clearly in the second camp, and Anthony found himself in the third. As for the other five members of the team, two had left in disgust moments ago, and the other three were positioning themselves on either Mendez or Lowenstein’s side of the argument.

Sal Mendez and Oren Lowenstein stood toe to toe, red-faced and shouting.

Sal looked as if he were courting a coronary. His eyes bulged and his large beefy hands were curled into fists. He was tall, as well as wide, and looked as if he could stand to lose a good fifty pounds. His black hair bristled, and sweat flew from the tips as he shook in rage at the suggestion Oren Lowenstein had just made. From his neck up, he was bright red, except at the forehead which was actually starting to look purple. “We are nothing without God!” he shouted at Oren.

Oren was slim, also dark-haired and despite the size difference, he did not look afraid of the larger man in the least. “Oh yes, and whose God do we speak of? Hmm? The God whose Jews killed Christ? Or perhaps the Muslim’s Allah, who has extremists at every corner?” His eyes snapped with anger, “Better yet, let’s send the Mormons, shall we?”

Anthony tried to intervene, “If we could just…” Neither man paid any attention to him.

Mendez was a good man, but he was also a devout Catholic. And he had been known to argue, rather vociferously, for hours in support of the duality of faith and science. Lowenstein, whose father had been an Orthodox rabbi, was an atheist to the core and unafraid to call others, especially his fellow scientists, fools if they professed any sign of faith or belief in a higher power.

“God will judge the godless!”

“Do you believe in the tooth fairy and Easter bunny as well?”

“To send a man out into the stars without faith to guide him is sacrilege!”

“Perhaps we should also bring hexes and make sure everyone knows how to ward off demons!”

“Blasphemer!”

“Idiot!”

“ENOUGH!” Anthony’s bellow cut through both men’s shouts and startled the rest of the room into silence. The abrupt silence allowed Anthony some respite from his pounding headache, but he knew he had very little time before it started up again. “We will show each other respect, and that includes all faiths or lack thereof.”

The folder that had started today’s argument was that of Jacob Carter, age 44, a brilliant and respected psychotherapist who also held a doctorate in Ethnobotany. His age was close to the cut-off – one of the decisions early on by the Board had been that all applicants would be young, allowing for the physical advantages and adaptability of youth to adjust to the higher gravity and challenging circumstances of the new world they would be presented with.

The Board members had agreed that the maximum age should be 45 years at time of departure.

But Jacob’s age was not of particular concern. He was one of the handful of ‘over forty’ age applicants, yes, but it was his recent conversion that had sparked controversy. Applicants were given extensive physical and psychological tests as well as essay-type questions designed to elicit as much personal information about the applicant as possible. Under Personal Beliefs he had candidly written about his decision to attend seminary and become an ordained Methodist minister five years before. “It is my dream that I may take the word of God to the stars, as a comfort to those of faith in the darkness of space.”

A man who not only professed his faith but was interested in proselytizing? This revelation had raised Lowenstein’s fur, and he had said something disparaging about the religion, setting off Mendez.

“Look,” Anthony continued, ignoring Mendez’s labored breathing, the man looked closer to a heart attack than he was comfortable with, “This is about choosing the tens out of the tens.”

Sal’s face was slowly reverting from the alarming purple hue to a slightly more subdued red. Oren’s face, while never as red as Sal’s was also beginning to relax, “Jacob Carter is a ten out of ten,” he snapped, “despite being a…” he frowned slightly, “Methodist.” He couldn’t resist a roll of the eyes.

Anthony jumped in quickly, “Yes, he is. He fits into our needed skillsets – his addition will make five total individuals with degrees in the various areas of botany and the only one with an ethnobotany degree. His abilities as a psychotherapist are well known as well. He has served as a crisis counselor during the Narine conflict and has passed all of the physical and psychological tests with flying colors.”

His eyes ran down the summary page, then flipped to the back half, “Family history is negative for any mental illness, early death, or inherited diseases. His bone structure is optimal and his heart is good. Dr. Carter has also expressed an interest in studying oceanology and assisting Fuller in exploring the anomalies reported in the Decca Strait and, while he does not have any children, is fully functional and willing to either pair and reproduce with a suitable partner or adopt from an unrelated source carried by a surrogate.”

He looked back at Mendez and Lowenstein. They had both slipped back into the plush armchairs that lined the long conference table and seemed to have settled down. Mendez was still pink and Lowenstein was pretending indifference as Anthony had read out loud to them.

Anthony continued, “Let’s put him in the final 400 and move on, shall we? All in favor?”

The five men and women present each voted for Carter, even Lowenstein, who couldn’t resist adding, “At least he’s a Methodist,” he stared dismissively at Mendez, “which means he is relatively reasonable.”

Mendez’ face flushed red all over again.

Anthony sighed, next on the agenda were the couples and young families who had applied to join in the quest to Zarmina’s World, including twenty gay and lesbian couples. After such a ridiculous fight over religion, Anthony was dreading the inevitable conflict over gay unions.

He opened the first folder, “Jack Dunn and Kevin Edmonds, ten year partnership, one four year old adopted son. Jack is a videographer, historian, author and experienced sailor. Kevin is well versed in communications, and has studied extensively in Africa and South America on native building materials. It also notes under education that he has a minor in entomology and he has expressed an interest in cataloguing new species once we are on-planet.”

A murmur from the far corner of the room had begun immediately after hearing the names. It seemed that the homophobic contingent was now rearing their ugly heads. Anthony sighed in resignation and turned his attention to the elderly female board member. Might as well get this over with now.

Writing Update

Writing Update

I think it is time for a writing update.

That’s my excuse to step away from Gliese 581 for a moment and screw my head on straight. It isn’t easy killing off 99% of the world’s population with a virus, you know.

So Gliese 581: Departure is a hybrid dystopian/TOTWAWKI/sci-fi hybrid. Because, if you know me at all, I simply refuse to be defined by one genre alone. It simply isn’t in my nature.

In any case, if you haven’t read War’s End:The Storm and its sequel War’s End: A Brave New World, well, I really suggest you do that. Not just because they are good stories, but also because I write in one big ole shared universe. And I do love to further my favorite characters down through the ages. So while you might not see Jess or Chris, the main protagonists of both of the War’s End books, you will get to meet their children and grandchildren in the Gliese 581 series.

So I’m hard at work on Gliese 581: Departure – the first of two, possibly three books. And I’ve…

  • Identified 38 chapters (typically I title the chapters, write a brief description of what will happen in it and then move on, returning later to write the chapter)
  • Finished writing 17 chapters
  • Almost finished four more chapters
  • Started two more, but have significant work to do.

So…wow…I’m just over 50% done.

Nice.

I hope to have this book up and running (or ready for edits) by spring…

Yeah.

That is a big if. I’ve got a LOT of classes scheduled…as in over 50 for the first seven months of the year. But I would dearly love to get this done, edited and in print by summer.

You are going to buy a copy…right? Right?

I’m Not Sitting on My Hands, No Sirree!

I’m Not Sitting on My Hands, No Sirree!

It is now November 3rd and I haven’t been sitting on my hands, no sirree, I have not!

A month ago I announced I was taking a break from Bubblews. You can read about it here if you like: http://www.bubblews.com/news/8658649-taking-a-break-until-bubblews-payments-come-in

And just three weeks ago, I had my first paying article accepted, followed by two more last Friday. This morning I sent out a slew of queries for an spring organizing article, and received an email back from an editor asking for an entirely bigger article, some 2,000 words (instead of the 600+ one I had sent) and suggesting that it would be okay for me to do an adaptation from the organizing book I published in 2008.

Immediately after that, I heard from an editor from a local gardening magazine – KC Gardener – about trimming down (by half) an article I had submitted to her on Growing Food, Building Community.

A couple of hours of work, and both of those articles have been re-worked and submitted back to the editors.

I want to establish myself as someone who can get things done, quickly, and within the expected parameters. Someone who is professional and efficient as well.

After all, if I make it EASY on the editors, they will be interested in assigning me more work in the future!

Things are really taking off. And not just that, but Bubblews has a total of four redemptions recently processed and another EIGHT more processing through in the next two days. I’m getting all of those back redemptions owed and even some that are less than 30 days out. Crazy, but true!

Things are really looking up around here.

I hope the same is true for you!