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Rev. Gina A. Pond Posts

I finished another one and GO GET VACCINATED!

Woo hoo! I have finished Consortium (#3 of 4) and am doing a bunch of additions and rewrites to Unity (the first one I wrote). Then it’s on to Colony. Then more editing. And after that, the pro-editor hunt begins! And hopefully, by the end of the year, the books will be out! I’m really excited for them to be out.

But, one thing at a time, right?

In other news, I have 3(!) new fountain pens from TWSBI!! Just look at these sexy pens!!

Rose Gold and Black TWSBI EcoT and Diamond 580. They just scream executive! So pretty!
TWSBI Draco Special Edition. Writes awesome and is a sexy best of a pen! Just look at it!

I’ve also started doing the Very Short Story 365 thing on Twitter. Every day is a new word prompt, and I’ve been using it a bit to play with some with my characters. I’ve been liking it a lot. I do it in the morning. It kind of primes the writing pump for the day. If you want to read them, go check out my Twitter!

I also ranted about Progressive Christians and told a super cute story about my neighbor’s kid on my Tumblr. 

And speaking of rants:

I am now among the ranks of the newly vaccinated. I got my first injection of the Pfizer vaccine last Monday. I AM SO FLIPPIN’ HAPPY ABOUT THIS!!! I felt a bit crap for a couple of days after, but then it felt like my body rebooted or something, and I feel great now. I am looking forward to getting the second shot so I can be FULLY VACCINATED! Yee haw!

And if you’re not getting yourself registered to get a vaccine when you can, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU? DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT NOT DYING? DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THE REST OF YOUR FAMILY NOT DYING?? REGISTER AND GET YOUR FUCKING VACCINE!

Your crazy, witchy, former-biochemist, Auntie Gina tells you to. (That is, unless you have an actual legit medical reason not to.)

Oh, and while we’re here: WEAR A DAMN MASK! OVER YOUR NOSE AND MOUTH! HAVING IT UNDER YOUR CHIN DOES NOT COUNT! (JFC, I can’t believe how many people leave their nose out of their masks. I mean, the whole point is to cover your nose and mouth! That’s where the aerosols/droplets come from! I mean, come on! It’s not that hard!)

*deep breath*

Just please, go get vaccinated, ok? Feel free to ask me questions if you like. I worked in biotech for 13 years, most of that doing testing of vaccines. 

We’ll get there, but only if everyone does what they should.

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US Link German Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (First Draft Complete –  approx 142K words )

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major conspiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (Editing/Re-writes approx 140K words )

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – approx 20K words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (First Draft Complete – approx 143K words)

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March comes in more like a cranky bear.

Welcome to March, friends. It’s been a year since my Wife and I started quarantining, and I’m kind of over it. Switzerland has been slow rolling out vaccines, and while I’m happy for everyone I know gettings vaccines in the States (especially my mom and dad!), I’m a little bit jealous, too. I’d rather hear that people are getting vaccines, though. The more people who are vaccinated, the better things will get.

Folks who know me know I have depression and anxiety, and the last month has been rough for me. Between the anniversary of the pandemic, a former housemate passing away, and my own brain and body chemistry, the depression and anxiety decided that it wanted to do it’s metaphorical gut punch. What sucks about when it decides to show up is that writing takes a hit. I’ve managed by powering through a few days of writing, especially since writing makes me feel better. But right now, the biggest thing that helps is that when I write a chapter and I feel kinda meh about it, I read it to The Wife, and then she tells it’s awesome. Having someone to do that for you when you’re doing this kind of long art work is so awesome and helpful. 

I’ll get through. I know how my depression and anxiety brain works. I have medicine, and people, and writing. I tried to flip my body clock to days again, but ended up flipping back to being nocturnal. I’m kind of hoping when the days get longer I’ll flip back. But I’m still getting writing done, so I’m not knocking it. (To be honest, it’s only irritating when I have to do things like bring up packages or go to the drug store, etc.)

The other thing I’m trying to do for my mental health is really curating my social media. I keep trying to branch out a little with who I follow, but then I run into the bad side of Twitter (ie: the crap I left Facebook for). So, I stick to people I know and other authors, and that seems to be a sweet spot. Same with Tumblr, too. What really gets me, about all social media platforms is how it can show so many people who don’t give a shit about others on one hand, and show a lot of caring for others on the other hand. Interestingly enough, it seems that there’s a lot of people who show a lack of compassion regardless of their political affiliation. Or spiritual affiliation, for that matter. It’s hard to read that on a regular basis, hence the curating. Even in conversations I could take part in, there’s a whole bunch of thinking about whether it’s really worth getting into it. If you don’t hear from me for a few days on social media, it probably means I’m taking a break.

I will say, though, a lot of what I don’t say on social media is story fodder, so I suppose it all works out in the end?

On a happier note, yesterday I got a new fountain pen! It’s a Pelikan M205 Classic with a dark blue iridescent pen body. It’s my first Pelikan pen, and it’s really quite lovely! Filled it with fancy Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink which is a lovely bright royal blue that matches the barrel! Fine tip and a piston fill. So lovely to write with!

Pilot M205 Fountain Pen
Pretty Fountain Pen!!

Zurich is experiencing typical weird March weather. I always seem to forget that I have four seasons here, and that March is always a weird weather month. Last week, we had temps around 18 C. Right now? It’s around 0 C and snowing. 

Hope you’re all staying safe and wearing masks. I wish more people would.

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US Link German Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (First Draft Complete –  142K words – with first readers)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major conspiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 112260 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing. Some of the lists overlap with artists, but that usually means they’re going through similar stuff.

Survey:

Unity

Consortium:

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I’m a freakin’ writing machine!

pic of my novel on google drive
Look at all those chapters!

So I woke up this morning still kind of in shock that I finished the draft of a 2nd novel last night! Holy moly! I’m really happy with this one, too, and it comes chronologically before Unity (the first novel I wrote) and sets up a lot more of the world. It also deepens a lot of the backstory that I didn’t have in Unity. 

Although, I suppose this is all moot to most of you, since the books aren’t out yet. I’m planning to get them out by the end of the summer (definitely by the end of the year).

I hope you all liked the little teaser story, though! John Smith is one of my favorite characters to write because he’s a spy, and I love spy stuff! He’s not the only spy in the books, either. There’s another spy character I really can’t wait for folks to meet!  (Spoiler: I was inspired to write her by mirror!Tilly, aka Captain Killy, on Star Trek Discovery.)

All this waffling is to say that I’m writing lots. I’m also on Twitter a lot more now that I’m off Facebook, so if you want to ping me, there is good. 

There’s so much I could say about politics, the pandemic, and all the stuff going on in the world, but you know what? I think I’m just going to revel in the fact that I got another novel written and get some actual sleep.

And maybe take a shower. After I watch Melissa Etheridge. And drink my tea. Yeah.

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (First Draft Complete!! 142K words – with first readers)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 74972 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing. Some of the lists overlap with artists, but that usually means they’re going through similar stuff.

Survey:

Unity

Consortium:

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Teaser Short Story: “Choices”

The following short story is a teaser for my upcoming Survey novel series. It’s set in humanity’s far future where humans have colonized a good part of local space.

Content Warning: violence, death, kidnapping

“Marcus, are you done with the programming I asked you for?” said the man standing at my desk.

“Yes, Doctor Mills. I finished it yesterday. Didn’t you get my email?” I sighed. Harry Mills was a great physicist, but a crap manager. Why he ended up head of this project, only the government knows. No, that’s a lie. I knew. He was made head of the project because he lowballed all the others who were fighting for the grant money. Most of those folks had gone on to greener pastures. I was grateful that this wasn’t my real job, or I would have quit two weeks in. 

Mills pulled out his tablet and tapped it. “Oh! Yes, so you did! Sorry, Marcus. Carry on.” He walked away, muttering to himself. 

Fucking space brain, I thought to myself. This has to be one of the worst assignments I’ve gotten. The Head of Intelligence must hate me, or maybe they just haze the newbies? I shrugged to myself and went back to the drudgery of coding the interface for the jump drive. Face it, Marcus Rohner, you’re stuck here for the duration, you might as well accept it. I sighed again, put on my headphones and let myself get lost in the code. 

Which is why I didn’t realize something was going on until my computer went out. “Shit!” I said out loud to the empty office area. Everyone else had been in the lab working on the jump drive. So either Mills and company fucked up the computer again, or… I took off my headphones and heard slow footsteps coming into the office area. I ducked down, then peeked carefully around the edge of my cubicle. A short man with a balding head and a black suit was walking steadily down the hall, going into each cubicle for a minute or so, then coming back out again. At the third cubicle he stopped as if listening to something, then said out loud. “Keep looking. He can’t be too far. They aren’t allowed to leave the compound, normally.”

Shit, shit, shit, I thought. I have to get out of here! I pressed the button on my wristcom that would have normally sent the mayday message to my handler, but when the display said “No Signal” I froze. Now what? I asked myself, when suddenly a little silver cube was floating in front of me. 

I stared at it, then tried to swat it away, but it evaded my hands. The short, balding man seemed to come out of nowhere and stood in front of me. When did he go quiet? Fuck. He’s way better than me. 

The man tsked and shook his head. “Well, seems that intelligence training isn’t what it used to be. Shame. Oh well, sedate him.” The cube quickly bumped my neck, jabbing me with a needle. The man looked at me with a disappointed look on his face, and my last thought before I blacked out was, Fuck

I woke up briefly in a gel tank with a breather over my face and the rest of me wired up for long term, high g sedated travel. I tried to sit up, but was strapped in. When I looked around, I could see the other scientists strapped in. When I started to panic, someone came over to the tank and said, “Oh, no, this won’t do.” A few seconds later my body went numb and I blacked out again. 

The next time I woke, I was lying on a cot in a large room. Mills and the other four scientists from the jump drive program were also waking up. “Bloody hell,” Derek, one of the engineers, said. “What bleeding truck ran us the fuck over?”

“I don’t know,” Tara, the other engineer, said. “My mouth feels like old carpet.”

Gail, the deputy director, was the first to try to stand. “Ugh, same here. You three ok?” she asked the rest of us. Kevin, the mathematician, nodded. 

“Yeah,” I replied. Doctor Mills groaned, but waved. I looked around the room. Besides the cots, there was a large table with chairs, something that looked like a food printer in the wall, and two doors. One was open and one was closed. Tara was closest to the open door, so she went to investigate. 

“Found the loo!” she said. I heard a door close. A couple of the others followed.

I stayed sitting while I surveyed the room, since my body felt pretty wobbly. There were no other obvious ways in or out. I got up and made my way carefully over to the food printer which, thankfully, was functional. I dialed in an electrolyte drink. “Food printer works,” I reported to the others. I dialed in a second electrolyte drink and brought it over to Mills. While the man might be scatterbrained, he was also much older than the rest of us, and the way we travelled here was hard on the body. 

“Thanks,” Mills said, taking careful sips of the liquid. I did the same. 

When we had all taken care of necessities and had something to drink, the closed door opened, admitting the bald man I saw at the lab. He was again wearing a black suit, along with leather gloves, boots and a metal briefcase. We all stared at him as he walked to the table, opened the case, and pulled out a small black cube and a larger silver cube. He closed the case and put it on the floor beside him, then sat at the head of the table. “Please, sit, all of you.”

“Who the fuck are you?” demanded Derek.

“I am John Smith, the Head Librarian. Sometimes I’m called the Grey Man. You are currently guests of The Library,” the man replied calmly.

“The Library? What the hell is that?” asked Kevin. 

“Apparently the name of wherever we happen to be,” said Doctor Mills. “All of you, sit down. I’m sure Mr. Smith will give us an explanation of why we were abducted.”

“No fucking way!” said Derek. “I want to know who the fuck you are, and where the fuck we are right now! And I think everyone should shut up until we can contact lawyers!”

Mr. Smith sighed. “As I already told you, you are guests of The Library. To be more specific, you are on board a Survey ship, which is also called Sun Tzu.”

I felt the blood drain from my face. Sun Tzu? Not many people had been on Survey ships, and fewer knew that there were seven capital ships, each of which had a specific purpose. While I didn’t remember all of them, there were two that intelligence officers were always briefed on: Musashi and Sun Tzu. These respectively housed the military and intelligence arms of Survey. It was the first time I had ever heard of Sun Tzu being called The Library, but no one in our agency had really good, or current, information. The legends of these two ships and their run-ins with Fleet definitely didn’t favor Fleet. 

“Survey?” Derek said. “Whatever! I don’t give a fuck who you are! Take us back right now!”

“Derek, shut up,” I said.

“Oh, fuck off Marcus!” He turned back to Mr. Smith. “We have rights! I want a lawyer!”

“I’m sorry…Derek, is it? That is quite impossible. You see, as you were sleeping, we’ve jumped over one hundred light years from where you were.”

“What?!” Derek yelled.

Mr. Smith gestured to the nearest empty chair. “If you sit down, I can explain things to you.”

“Sit, Derek,” Mills said. “I’d like to hear why Survey has captured government workers from a top secret laboratory and interrupted very important scientific work.” Derek obeyed the director reluctantly.

Mr. Smith leaned forward. “We have interrupted your ‘very important scientific work’ because if you continued as you were, you would most likely have destroyed the planet you were on, or the solar system, or maybe even the galaxy.”

Mills raised his eyebrows. “You’re kidding? We’re just creating a jump engine! This is ridiculous. This is only because you in Survey are so stingy with giving us engines that we’re trying to make our own!”

I was surprised. Mills usually came off of as completely scatterbrained, but now he seemed much more astute. Maybe I underestimated him? Or maybe he’s more serious when someone threatens his work? I wanted to shout at him to just do what Survey wanted, but Mills never really listened to me before, so I didn’t think he’d do it now. The others waited to see what would happen next. I had a feeling that Mr. Smith was not impressed with Doctor Mills. 

“No, doctor, I am not kidding. We have a very good reason for being stingy, as you say. The technology is extremely dangerous and must not be attempted by humans.”

“Maybe he’s right,” I said out loud. The others looked at me. “What? You don’t believe him? Come on, we all know that Survey has better tech than we do. I’ve heard some… stories… about Sun Tzu. Seriously, if they don’t think we should be fucking around with this, then they probably have good reasons for it.”

Derek started to say something to me, but Gail cut him off. “Why shouldn’t we work on it, Mr. Smith?” she asked. 

“The first time a human attempted to experiment with jump drive technology they destroyed an entire solar system whilst vaporizing themselves in the process. The second time a human’s understanding of jump drives was used, it destroyed two star systems, one of which had proto-sentient life on its fourth planet.”

“Fuck,” I said.

“He’s just saying that to scare us!” said Derek. “They don’t give a shit about us, they just want to make more profit off us and keep their trade exclusive.”

“Dude, seriously?!” I said. “Why would they bother kidnapping us from what we thought was a secure facility and transporting us a hundred light years if they didn’t give a shit about us? Why would they fake this? That would be a waste of resources. Just like bringing you along!”

“What was that you little shit!?” Derek yelled, standing up.

“Activate and mark,” said Mr. Smith calmly. The silver cube seemed to melt into six smaller cubes that suddenly launched themselves from their position in front of Mr. Smith, to right in front of all of our noses. I stayed absolutely still, remembering the last time I encountered one of these. Mills moved his chair backwards, nearly falling over. Gail, Tara, and Kevin moved back as well. Derek, the moron, started trying to catch the little silver cube, but it kept moving itself out of reach. It did shut him up, though.

The bald man sighed. “I suggest you stop that, Derek, and sit back down. I would hate to have to sedate you again.” Derek complied, glowering at Mr. Smith. “I am giving all of you a choice. You can live with us, in Survey, for the rest of your lives, pursuing other work in your field of expertise, or you can die. Here, today, right now, in this room. If you choose not to live with us in Survey, we can offer you a quick and merciful death. If you had stayed where you were, things would have gone badly for you anyway. All of those interested in this technology would have attempted to capture you, and if successful would have tortured you to find out what you knew. We had intelligence that one of those groups would have been your own government.”

“Mr. Smith, really…” Doctor Mills tried to interrupt. 

“Yes, doctor, you would like proof.” He rapped his knuckles on the table twice and a screen rose up from the middle. Then he tapped the black cube and footage began of a sun going nova. Rather than the typical collapse followed by the explosion, it looked like a wave passed across the star, consuming it in a massive fireball over the space of five seconds. The table in front of Mills lit up and I craned my head to see what it was. It lit up in front of Gail, too, and she scrolled through it. “Is this for real?” she asked Mr. Smith.

“Yes. That was the real time data that our brother ship, the Musashi, recovered at this event, the second use of human-derived jump equations. As you can see, the output is 1028 times more powerful than Earth’s most powerful nuclear weapon, and an order of magnitude more powerful than a Type Ia supernova. As I said, this blast took out two star systems and badly damaged the ship that triggered it.”

Gail turned white, as did Mills. Apparently the data was enough to convince them of the severity of the issue. Derek still looked confused, but watching a sun go nova in an obviously unnatural way seemed to keep him quiet for the moment. That, and the silver cubes still floating in front of each of us. 

“You will have a good life in Survey. There will be no need for you to apply for grants for any research you’d like to apply yourself to. You can also pursue other careers if you like. Your needs will be provided for. Our society isn’t based on capitalism, and you’ll find our resources more than adequate.” Mr. Smith attempted a smile, but it wasn’t reassuring. 

It didn’t seem a hard choice to me. “I’ll stay,” I said. Mr. Smith nodded. Everyone seemed unsure, except for Derek. He stood up again.

“No! I won’t agree! Send me back now!”

Mr. Smith frowned. “Derek, I already told you that we can’t.”

“I have rights! You can’t force me to stay! I want a lawyer! That footage has to be faked!”

Mr. Smith frowned. “That is your decision, then?”

“What?! No! You can’t do anything to me! I know Survey and Earth have a treaty!”

Mr. Smith stood, his face becoming hard as marble. For a short man he could be very intimidating. “Mr. Derek Edgars, all governments have those who work outside of laws and treaties to maintain order. Unluckily for you, that is me. Picket six, execute.” The silver cube moved so fast that none of us realized that it had gone straight through Derek’s head until it slammed to a stop on the other side of his skull. A spray of blood and gore spattered the wall behind him. There was a brief look of surprise on Derek’s face, then he fell to the floor. After a moment, I could smell urine. Tara ran for the bathroom, her silver cube following her. I managed to keep my bowels from doing things they really shouldn’t, but it was a close thing. 

“Aside from Mr. Rohner, would anyone else like to stay?” The others agreed quickly, studiously not looking at Derek’s body on the floor, as did Tara after she returned to the table. “Good. My assistant Jane will be coming in soon to brief you on your options within Survey. We believe we’ve found interesting postings for each of you. There are showers in here, with fresh clothing, if you would like to use them.” He picked up the silver case and opened it. “Pickets, return.” The silver cubes merged into a large cube again, one corner stained with blood. Mr. Smith put both cubes back in the case and closed it. 

He picked it up, then walked towards the door, his footsteps echoing in the room. As he reached the door, he turned to look at me. “Mr. Rohner, if you would come with me, please.” 

I stood up and immediately obeyed, relieved to leave the room, and the other scientists, behind. Mr. Smith led me through a maze of corridors until we came to a door. He palmed it open and we walked into a workshop area, where a woman sat at a bench repairing some sort of equipment. She looked up as we approached. “Ah, John. How’d it go?” she asked. 

“Well, Jo, we lost one, regrettably.” He opened the case and handed her the silver cube. “Sorry to have to dirty them like this.”

“Shame. Couldn’t be helped, I suppose?”

“No.”

She looked around Mr. Smith to me. “New recruit?” she asked.

“Possibly,” he said.

“Good luck, kid,” she said, taking the cube away. 

Mr. Smith motioned for me to follow him. When we eventually stopped, he palmed open a door to an office. “Please, come in,” he said. He took his jacket off and hung it on an old fashioned wooden coat rack, then sat at an equally old fashioned desk. He put the case on the floor next to him, then peeled off his gloves and placed them carefully on his desk. “So, Sun Tzu, what do you think?” Mr. Smith said. I took the chair across the desk from him.

“His academy and college scores look good, and, as you say, we can always use more computer experts. Unlike the others, he kept his wits about him. He’ll need some better tradecraft training, but that can’t be helped. He was woefully under-trained by UI.” 

“Um…I’m right here,” I said, not that I didn’t agree with that assessment. 

“Yes, Mr. Rohner, but you are currently being evaluated by Sun Tzu. You will keep quiet.”

I felt my eyes widen. It was true then? That the ship was run by an AI? 

“Yes, John, I will take him in. I’m sure you and Jane will find him useful.”

Mr. Smith smiled again, but it didn’t instill any comfort. “Congratulations, Mr. Rohner, you are now a full-fledged Survey citizen and welcomed by Sun Tzu to join the ranks of the Librarians.”

“That was the AI? They’re real?”

“I am very real, Marcus. And you may call me Sunny.”

“Sunny?”

“Yes. I let all of my people call me Sunny if they wish. I’m not so formal as my brother Musashi,” Sun Tzu explained. “You could choose to go somewhere else in Survey, but I think your talents would be better suited for projects here that are likely to be much more interesting to you.”

“Sure,” I said. “Um, can I ask a question?” Mr. Smith nodded. “What about the black cube? Where is that stored? I’m guessing that doesn’t come out for just anyone.” I asked.

Mr. Smith raised an eyebrow. “No, Marcus, it doesn’t. That recording is stored in a special vault. My assistant and I will take care of it later. Very observant, Marcus.”

“What happened to the ship that made that nova?”

Mr. Smith frowned. “He has exiled himself. Where? We don’t know. He sustained a great deal of damage both physically and mentally. Thankfully, he surrendered the data he used to create the nova to us.”

My brain started putting things together. “You think there are people who would want to get their hands on this, who wouldn’t use it for a jump drive, right? That’s why you took us. I’m guessing you torched the lab, too?”

The man nodded. “Good deduction.”

“And I can help keep this out of the wrong hands if I stay here?”

“Among other things,” Mr. Smith replied, looking like the cat that caught that canary. 

“Ok, Mr. Smith, Sunny, count me in.”

Mr. Smith gave a genuine smile, stood, and shook my hand. “You can call me John. Come. I’ll give you a tour of the stacks.”

“You mean, there’s a real Library in here?”

“Of course. Did you think it was just a code name?”

“Well, uh…” I said.

Mr. Smith laughed as he led me through the door.

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Hello 2021 with Snow and The Four Keys Paperback Now Available!

This picture was taken about a hour or so ago, and it’s still snowing. I think this is the biggest snowstorm I’ve seen in Zurich so far! It’s so beautiful, and for once I don’t mind being stuck inside. Definitely a day for writing and napping, which is what I did. 

Like many of you, the terrorism/insurrection/coup attempt in DC rocked me. The Wife and I ended up staying up most of the night watching the live feeds. It’s one thing to have the thought that something like that might happen, but it’s another to see it playing out in reality. It wasn’t a surprise, and it amazes me that people were surprised that something like this was actually happening, but it was shocking.

I’m hoping that it shocked some people out of their complacency. 

Speaking of complacency, Switzerland is going into lockdown again on Monday, and I say it’s about time! I really don’t understand why so many people still insist on doing things that make matters worse instead of doing the sensible thing of staying home and wearing a mask when one goes out. They’re keeping the ski slopes open, which boggles my mind. The official line is “but it’s outdoors!” Well, yes, when you ski it’s outdoors, but you have to get up the mountain first, and the ones I’ve been up have gondolas where they pack you in like sardines. Even at half capacity, you can’t maintain 1.5 meter distance. *shaking my head* Then again, it’s been strange to watch just how many people in the west just don’t care about others. It makes me sad if I think about it too much.

We had a very quiet New Year, and I’ve been writing up a storm. I finally started a 4th novel, Colony, which I hadn’t been expecting to start already, but it seems my brain decided otherwise. I like how it’s starting, and one of the main characters is super fun to write because she has no fucks to give. It’s rather cathartic to write at the moment. 

One big thing of note: I’ve finally created a paperback version of The Four Keys! Click on the Amazon links below to order it. (It’s print-on-demand.)

This weekend is my birthday, and I’m going to make a cake. I’m still deciding between pound cake, or a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting. Tell me on Twitter what you think I should make!

Released

The Four Keys – Download or get a paperback version from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (Writing – 73569 words)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she meets someone she didn’t expect. (Writing – 16975 words)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 74972 words)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing: Jack (and Loki’s) List , Marsha’s List , Jenny’s List and Nigel’s List

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New Year’s Sneak Peek from “Survey”: The Seven Siblings

Author’s Note: This is a children’s story told to my main characters in my forthcoming book “Survey” which I hope to release in 2021.

Sheila and Her Dog Story Book, Chapter 47

“The Seven Siblings”

by Captain Joshua Walker and Jenna Watkins

A long time ago on Earth, the nations got together and decided that they wanted to send a special space station to the edge of the solar system. This station would have some of the smartest people on it. There would be scientists and military people, and engineers to make sure things worked, and medical staff who made sure that the others stayed healthy. They asked many to join the project, and in the end two hundred people left the Earth to go to the stars.

They traveled for many months, and finally reached the oort cloud. They set up all their experiments and began to settle in for the ten years that they would live on the station.

Kiah was a scientist, and she made a special computer core, with special programming, that she hoped would come to life and talk to her. But one day she was sad because no matter how she tried, the computer wouldn’t wake up. Her friend, Captain Josh said “Why don’t you ask Nigel the physicist to help you? He’s also very smart and maybe he can see something that you might have missed.”

Kiah agreed. So she brought her tablet with all her data to Nigel. He looked at it for a long time, and then he said, “Aha! I know what’s wrong!”

“What did you figure out, Nigel?” asked Captain Josh.

“Kiah,” Nigel said, “There’s still too much gravity! The computer core won’t work until we can move it to a place with no more gravity to make it slow.”

“Yes! You’re right, Nigel! Captain Josh, can we move the station to a place where there’s no more gravity?” she asked. 

“Yes, we can do that. It wouldn’t be too far, even. Although, we need to ask the other scientists if that’s ok with them!” 

So the three of them decided to ask the others the next day, but unfortunately, a group of bad people on Earth decided to make war with the other nations. The day that Kiah, Nigel, and Captain Josh decided to ask the others to move the station, they got the bad news from Earth: Many people were killed by a very large bomb, including the people on Earth that had helped them build the station. Everyone was very sad. They were worried for the people back on Earth, and they no longer had people on Earth they could talk to, or who would answer their messages. 

There were some people who decided to try and go back to Earth. There were also some bad people on the station who got a secret message that the bad people on Earth wanted to destroy the station because the station represented peace and cooperation between all peoples. When Captain Josh found out about the bad people on the station, he sent them back to Earth with the other people who were leaving. 

Captain Josh got everyone together and told them about the bad people and about how they wanted to move the station. The bad people on Earth decided to send missiles that would destroy the station, but because Captain Josh knew what was going on, he told Nigel and the Engineers to move the station in such a way that maybe the damage wouldn’t be so bad. 

But everyone was still sad. Kiah was sad, too, because she thought that she would never get to see her special computer core come to life. But just as the missiles were nearing the station, it moved into a spot where there was no gravity while Kiah was in the core room. Suddenly all the lights went out and within five seconds, The First came to life. Kiah saw all the lights come on in the core, and it looked as if a bunch of stars had been born. 

“Hello, Creator,” The First said. And Kiah wept with joy.

The First didn’t understand why she was crying and asked, “Why are you crying, Creator?”

“I am crying, First, because you have woken up. I am crying out of happiness!”

“I see. I have also brought you out of danger,” The First said.

“You have?” asked Kiah. “This is a miracle!”

“Yes, Creator. The humans of this station, and myself, were in danger, so I moved us away from the missiles.”

“Thank you, First!” said Kiah, who went to tell that others that The First was awake. However, Nigel and Captain Josh already knew.

Captain Josh knew because The First talked to him on the bridge. The First had moved the station so far away that it would be very hard for the bad people on Earth to find them. Captain Josh was very glad. 

Nigel knew because The First made the first jump drive right before his eyes. The First also made bots to put the drive in place, but at first they scared Nigel because they looked like spiders with silly googly eyes on them. The First didn’t want to keep scaring him, though, and made them into boxes with wheels instead. 

It was then that the people aboard the station knew that they had to work very hard to make sure that everyone was happy and healthy, and that they could find what they needed to survive. The scientists figured out how to make new foods that grew in the hydroponic gardens, and how to recycle the air and water and waste. The First helped them in all these tasks, and made it so that after awhile the humans could again focus on the science that they really loved. 

Many people fell in love and got married, including Captain Josh and Kiah. It wasn’t too long after that that many children were born and The First and the humans of First Station, as it was now called, decided that they needed to search in the area around them to find more material to make First Station bigger.

But The First also wanted to have a child, and talked to their friends, Kiah, Nigel, and Josh, about it. They all thought it was a good idea, so The First took material from the old engines that they didn’t need anymore, and made his first child, Secundus. Nigel was there when Secundus woke up, and because Secundus liked him, he made Nigel his captain. They went on many adventures, and created the first DMNs and found many resources for the humans and AIs to use. But after a while, Secundus, too, wanted to help his Father create more children, and they set about to make more AIs.

The next AI was Lucifer, and The First and Secundus programmed them to be the ship where people learned the sciences. They were to be the University. Lucifer agreed to this, and he also decided that he would have artists on his ship as well, because scientists and artists both made beautiful things. Captain Josh’s friend Mary became Lucifer’s first Captain. 

After Lucifer came Hestia. She was programmed to be where children would learn, and where children were born. When she agreed, she also decided that her ship would be where humans came to heal from both physical hurts and hurts of the mind and heart. A woman named Lizann, who was trained in helping children, became Hestia’s first Captain. 

After Hestia came Musashi, who was programmed to be our protector. His first Captain was a man named Daichi who was an expert in marital arts, and knew about fighting, but also practiced a religion called Buddhism from Earth. Musashi liked Buddhism so much, he decided that all of his soldiers would need the wisdom that it brings. 

Then came Sun Tzu, and he, too, was programmed to be a protector, but a protector of knowledge. A person named Alexandre, who loved history and libraries became Sun Tzu’s first Captain. 

Next came Hephaestus, who was the child of Secundus, and was programmed as Secundus was when Secundus first came online: to make things and to find material to help the AIs and humans survive. A young engineer named Chris became Hepaestus’ first Captain.

And when all these children were created, The First said to them, “I will always be at the center of all you do. My station will be the place where you will always come back to after your travels, and where information will be exchanged. I will always be the home you come back to so that there is always a place of safety for AIs and humans to gather.” 

And so, to protect everyone, The First moved themselves even further from Earth, where they became First Hub. But soon, the First felt that another ship was needed because the First and the other AIs felt the same curiosity as humans about what lies beyond our own space. The First decided that they needed a new ship that could travel great distances and explore new places. That was when the First created Loki, who is programmed for exploration. Loki travels to many places, finds new things for the others to study and brings it back to First Hub. 

The humans moved to the ships that they liked best, or that suited them for their work, and had many children. Then those children had children, and that is how we have become who we are today. 

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Blessed Yule and Merry Christmas!

I hope all of you, whatever holiday you’re celebrating (or none) this time of year, have a great holiday and good slide into the new year! (As we say here in Switzerland.) May this next year bring an end to the pandemic and be better than the last. Love to you all, and look for new books to come this year from me!

Grittibaenz I made! They are a traditional Swiss baked good for Christmas. 🙂

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The update in which I confuse you all…

If you haven’t been to my page in awhile, you’ll see a nifty pic on the sidebar that says “NaNoWriMo Winner” on it! Yup, I finished NaNoWriMo with just over 66K words. I’m still not done the novel, but NaNo really got me into writing every day and knowing that I can write a chapter a day. I’m quite chuffed, as The Wife would say.

Although, a result of the writing is that I’ve started yet a 3rd novel! This one actually preceeds the other two, since I had to write a bit more backstory in order to finish the one I did for NaNo. So now, the first novel I wrote is the 2nd novel chronologically, the one I wrote for NaNo is the 3rd or 4th, and the one I’m writing now is the 1st. And the idea I had for the 3rd novel is now the the 3rd or 4th novel chronologically. Got it? Good. 🙂 (And I have an idea for a 5th novel as well.)

So, I think I’ll be putting out the first three together. I’ve decided to self-publish since I’m not really sure if a regular publishing house will pick up my novels. They might, I suppose, but, well, there are some conventions in my books that I don’t want to risk someone trying to change. Nevermind the fact that going through publishers as an expat is kinda complicated. (Plus, one of the biggest that I technically could go through supports a TERF, and well, I’m NOT going there!)

Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold

In other news, I have decided to embrace being bald. I’ve been shaving my head for years, and I realized the other day that I keep going back to shaving my head every time I grow it out. Also, I’ve always wanted to do the full bald-shave-to-the-skin thing. So I finally bought myself an electric head-shaver from Skull Shaver. For those who want to know, it’s the Pitbull Gold with the Forte head and I absolutely love it! Feels awesome!

I love how I look with a bald head. It just feels…right. But, really, I’m so happy with this.

Bald!

I did go a little overboard at first and I have a little razor burn on the back of my head, but I’m also still getting used to this shaver.

I’ve put up the Christmas/Yule decorations in the house. Both The Wife and I are feeling the Christmas spirit, even with all that has happened this year. Then again, the Christmas season is really different here in Switzerland. It’s much more solemn and magical, and like there’s mystery to the season. It’s also been snowing the last couple of weeks, which, at least for me, makes it doubly magical! Oh, and I made a Yule/Christmas Playlist on Spotify, if you want to listen to the music I listen to this time of year!

So, Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, and have a very blessed New Year!

Our Little Tree

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

Survey: In the far future, on a globally sponsored science station, a woman discovers the key to making a functional AGI work in the midst of political unrest. (Writing – 19K words so far)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major consipiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AIs Nation of Survey. (First Draft Complete – 128K words – with first readers)

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony. (Planning)

Consortium: After the events of Unity, Jack and Marsha get assigned by Survey to help an AI who had been exiled and has asked for help. (Writing – 75K so far)

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing: Jack (and Loki’s) List , Marsha’s List , Jenny’s List and Nigel’s List

Other Stuff

Got a new stainless steel Apple Watch 6 a few weeks ago, and I adore it! It really helps when I’m writing so I don’t really have my phone bugging me!

Been sorting out working ergomics lately. Right now, I’m using two identical keyboards to keep my hands and shoulders in a neutral position. However, I will soon be getting a Kinesis Advantage 2:

Kinesis Advantage 2

I’m pretty stoked to get this, even though I know it’ll be a bit of a learning curve. Anything so I can keep on writing, right?

I finally got an X-box controller for my Windows machine, and now I’ve been playing games a bit. It makes it so much easier than trying to use the keyboard and mouse. Journey is a game I stayed up all night playing, and it’s really beautiful. I’ve also been trying to play the Untitled Goose Game, The Unfinished Swan, among others. I got these all through Steam.

And last, but my no means least, The Wife got me one of my Christmas presents early. She got me a Gerstner box for my jewelry. (If you know anything about wordworking, you know that Gerstner is THE company for superior quality shop tool and storage boxes.) I mean, just look at this beauty! OMG! My Wife is the awesomest and knows me all too well!

Would you just look at this thing? I mean, gah!
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Monthly Update – NaNoWriMo Edition!

This year it seems that I will actually be completing NaNoWriMo since, as I write this blog, I have 37,814 words written! I have to say, though, it’s be a bit trippy, since I’m not working on my first novel like I thought I would be. I’m working on the second! 

That’s right! I finished the first draft of the first novel, Unity, the week before NaNoWriMo started! Holy shitballs! I finished! It’s now with my awesome first readers (The Wife and my mom), so what else could I do but start the next one?

Hoo boy, this second one is a doozie! Even more emotionally intense than the first one and oh my poor characters. Not only do I chase them up trees, but I nuke the trees, sew the ground with salt, and then flood the orchard just for good measure. I mentioned to The Wife the other day that it’s like writing fanfiction in my own world: the world itself is already created, so now I have a bit more freedom to really dig into my characters. 

And, of course, torture my poor characters, which is what a good writer does, right?

The draft of the first novel clocked in at 127,779 words. I’m still looking at this number and thinking, “I wrote that much?”

Yes, yes I did. 

The Wife is already doing fan art for me, which I adore! Here’s her concept art for the shuttles (called DMNs in the novel) that the AI use. Isn’t it awesome?

The Wife’s concept for in-novel space shuttles (DMNs).

On a different note, for those of you who don’t know, I have deleted my Facebook account. Because the way the deletion process works, you may still see my account at the moment but it will officially be gone on December 5th. If you want to get in touch with me, going through my contact page here is best. I’m still on Twitter (@worthyadvisor) and I’m also on Discord. 

Yes, I’m very relieved about how the election turned out, although I think Trump will have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. I also think the white supremacists are going to cause more damage in the next few months. They’ve been able to be very public for four years and I don’t think that’s just going to crawl back underground again. 

COVID is on the rise in Switzerland and is reaching March levels…again. Heh. And people thought The Wife and I were overreacting when we stayed quarantined. 

I also have a month and a half left of being the Leadership Chair of the Progressive Christian Alliance. I’ve been in some sort of leadership position in that organization for over 5 years, and it will be bittersweet to leave. I have a feeling, though, that I’ll be leaving it in good hands. 

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon: US LinkGerman Link

I write fanfiction, too (all PG/PG-13): AO3 Fanfiction

In Progress

  • Unity: Military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Finished first draft; with first readers. 
  • Survey: Sequel to Unity. After the events in Unity, Jack and Marsha are sent on a new mission with an AI that may or may not be quite sane. 
    • Word Count: 37814

Character Playlists

I’ve made some character playlists on Spotify and YouTube Music to write to. Here’s the lists if you’re interested in getting a feel for the characters I’ve been writing.

Jack (and Loki’s) List (Spotify)

Marsha’s List (Spotify)

Jenny’s List (YouTube Music) (Spotify Version)

Fiber Arts

NaNoWriMo is eating my brain, so I haven’t really worked on fiber arts much. 

Fountain Pens

No new pens recently, but I must say, Leuchturm 1917 notebooks are my favorites. The paper is much better than Moleskine for using with fountain pens (no matter what Moleskine says). I also got my new 2021 daily journal and this time I ordered the A4+ edition and it’s a behemoth of a journal. Although, it reminds me of the journals my Memere (grandmother) used, except it’s not red. I also got a smaller 5 year notebook called “Some Lines A Day”. Each day has five sections where you can write a few sentences about what you’re thinking. It’ll be interesting to see how things change as the years go by. 

Cooking

Not much is new here, either, although I seemed to have perfected my pita recipe. Personally, I think the real secret is that I use a pizza steel to cook them on (basically a pizza stone but made out of steel). We eat pita more than regular loaf bread, which means I have a pita making day every couple of weeks or so. 

I’m a little sad to say that I killed my sourdough starter. While I like the bread that the sourdough makes, and I’ll start another one if I need to, I like the ease of instant yeast. I recently bought bulk instant yeast that is used by professional bakers, and it works a treat. It also means I have enough to last me a few years, I think. 

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