It’s finally Fall!

Hello Fall! Oh how I have missed you! The turning of the leaves! The blessedly cold air! The stews, bread, and other cold weather food! Ah, it’s my favorite time of year!

August was a bit of a rough month, as you can tell by the fact that I didn’t have an update for you last month. I had a bit of a mental health hit, but thanks to adjustments to my daily brain chemistry supplement, I’m doing much better.

I also started a new novel called Nemetona, which was based on an idea I got while considering writing for LeVar Burton’s Short Story Contest for his podcast. I didn’t end up entering the contest because the idea expanded into novel size, and well, here we are. Coming off of August, it was hard for me to sit at the computer and write because I kept distracting myself with things like YouTube, new fountain pens, and other various things. So instead of typing the novel right now, I decided to put my collection of fountain pens and notebooks to good use and am writing it longhand. It’s been working pretty well so far (as in, I’m actually writing the dang thing!).

The notebook I’ve been using is awesome. I had to scour the internet to find more of them, but finally found a local supplier. What kind of notebook is this, you ask? From what I understand, the format is called the Oxford Lecture notebook. It’s lined, but with a blank one inch margin on the right. I love it because I can make novel notes in the margin without having to squeeze it between the text, or fight with the binding and holes! The one in the picture is from Clairefontaine (link is in French) so it has beautiful paper for use with fountain pens.

Speaking of pens and ink, I have new stuff!

The three inks are three more Pilot Iroshizuku inks. I’m quite obsessed with these inks. The colors are amazing, and the inks just work with any pen I throw at them. I think I have about half the collection now. I will collect them all!

The orange pen I bought from Jetpens and is called the Moonman pen from Korea. The cool thing about this pen is that you can swap out the regular fountain pen nib for a glass pen nib! I haven’t tried using the glass nib for writing yet, but I might try it later.

Underneath the Moonman pen is the new TWSBI Swipe, which is TWSBI’s first cartridge pen. This is also my first stub nib and I really dig it. It makes my writing look good without trying real hard! The grey capped pen next to it is a TWSBI Eco with a stub nib, which I just got today. All TWSBIs just really work so well and I adore them!

The funky looking pen in the picture is yet another Rotring Core pen. This one is black and blue-grey. My lord, these pens are my new obsession! They’re really comfortable to write with and have that cool scifi look about them. (And I’m super excited because I have a red and black one on the way!!) I still think it’s a shame that Rotring stopped making these pens.

I’ve been reading a lot lately since I’m backing off of most social media for awhile. Most of the books I’ve been reading are spicy romances because it’s hard for me to read other scifi while writing scifi. This month I’ve been reading Gail Carriger’s San Andreas Shifter’s series. If you like steamy paranormal gay male werewolf romance, then this will hit the spot. (Pun intended.) If you like your shifter smut of the cis het variety, I can recommend Zoe Chant’s Bodyguard Shifters series (actually, I’ve read a good chunk of all of her series, and all that I’ve read are fun, steamy reads with happy endings).

One more book note before I get back to novel writing: I’ve pushed out the publication date for the Survey series until early next year. No major problems or anything, it’s just logistics. I also want to say big thanks to my beta readers for being awesome people!

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 Foundation Series

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 – with beta 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 Edit Pass Complete – with beta readers )

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she, Lulu and another agent realize that someone else was also behind the New Harmonists pulling strings. (First Draft Complete! –with beta readers)

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– with beta readers)

Legend Series

Nemetona: A lone Captain and his AI answer a distress call from a sentient species who are dying. (Writing — Longhand, so I don’t know the word count yet.)

Mercury Series

Mercury: The Mercury Generation Ship begins it’s journey to the Andromeda galaxy. (Started, but stalled.)

Rainy July with Fountain Pens

It’s almost the end of July, and I’ve been busy writing and editing. I’ve finished my initial edit passes of the first series of books, and they’re now with my beta readers. I still hope to have the books out by the end of the year, and the Wife and I are also looking into audiobook options. Watch this space!

The other thing about having the first four books out with my beta readers is that now I can start writing the next series of books I have in my head! I started making notes today and some lists about what’s going to be in each of the books and about characters. I’m excited for this series, since I get to go even more in-depth with some of my world’s culture that I couldn’t fit into the first four books. 

In other words, I have a whole new set of characters to torture! Poor things…

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but the weather in Zurich has been conducive to hunkering in my little bat cave while doing lots of writing and editing. Either it’s thunder storming and flooding, or it’s too hot leave my air conditioned room for long periods of time. (Long story short: I take SSRIs which cause me problems with regulating body temperature in the heat.) The thunderstorms are pretty dramatic here, but a couple of weeks ago we had a storm that reminded me of the times I’d been through a hurricane! The Wife and I had to run around closing windows and picking up hailstones the size of ping pong balls from the floor! It was a bit scary.

I haven’t been really reading much lately so I don’t have any books to recommend at the moment, but I do have a lot of new fountain pen things to show off!

This month’s pen haul is 5 pens and some more Pilot Iroshizuku ink! The black pen is my first Montegrappa pen, the Zero Gold, and it’s rather lovely. Nice weighty pen with a nib that has nice bit of feedback. Still trying to find the best ink for it, though, and may have to get some Montegrappa cartridges.

The three TWSBIs are the mini versions of the Eco, Diamond 580, and Vac 700. I now own all versions of TWSBI pens. The topmost pen with the cap off is actually my first broad nib. I filled it with the shin-ryoku ink, and it writes beautifully! I’ve always been a staunch fine nib person, but I think the larger nibs are starting to grow on me.

The green-ish pen on the right is my first Visconti pen, and it’s the “Iris” pen from their Van Gogh collection. First, I LOVE Van Gogh! He’s my favorite impressionist painter. Second, this pen really captures the colors from his Iris painting perfectly. I have no idea how they did that, but it’s spectacular! And third, the pen has a lovely magnetic cap that is just so satisfying to take on and off. It writes like a dream and feels really amazing in the hand.

And look at the box it comes in! I mean, really:

I’m in love.

I also got yet another awesome thing from Galen Leather:

This is a wallet that fits the passport sized Traveler’s Notebook. It’s really lovely, like all things from Galen Leather. The pen loop holds my Kaweco Liliput quite nicely! And the leather smell…oMG!

I also recently got these:

These are called EarHugz, and they work a treat! See, my only gripe about the Bose QuietComfort headphones was that the leather would get hot and sweaty, then stick to my ears (yuck). I tried to find some cloth earcup replacements, but couldn’t find them. Then the Wife suggested finding some sort of cover (like pilots do with their headphones), and I found these! They have a lot of cute designs. The donut ones are called “The Homer” (of course). Definitely recommend! Bonus: for each one you buy, they give money to a mental health charity. Win!

Well, it’s time for bed. Or to watch some Olympic coverage. Or both. Tomorrow, I start more novels!

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 –  162K words – editing)

Unity: A military chaplain and her bodyguard get embroiled in a major conspiracy that threatens the humans colonies of Unity and the AI Nation of Survey. (First Edit Pass Complete – 137K words – editing )

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she, Lulu and another agent realize that someone else was behind the New Harmonists pulling strings. (First Draft Complete! — 133K words –editing)

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 – 143K words – editing)

Mercury: Beginning of sequel series to Survey Intragalactic series. (Planning and beginning of first draft.)

The Post Where I Write About Dinosaurs (Teaser!)

Wow, the whole month is nearly gone! I almost forgot to post my monthly update! The biggest news it that I am now fully vaccinated! It’s almost surreal to realize I can now leave the house. I’ll still wear a mask because aerosols, and I’m not an idiot, but at least, with the vaccine I won’t die if I get COVID.

It’ll take time to really get used to being able to go out and about again. The Wife and I are going to take it slow, though. Short walks around the neighborhood, etc. Anxiety is real.

On a better note, I’ve been writing the last of the novels for my first series. It’s been a bit rough going, but I’m really liking this story a lot. My favorite characters are “The George” which are brontosaurus like creatures on a colony that is modeled after Switzerland. Here’s an excerpt:

I nodded. “We can do that later. Right now, I have an important appointment with my nephew. If you’d take a seat?” I pointed with my chin towards the benches against the porch railing. I could finally hear the stomping of the George through the forest undergrowth. “Can you hear them, Nicoli? They’re on their way!” Nico forgot his shyness with the strangers, sat up and started waving his George plushie.

“What is that?” asked Marcus with awe.

“Wait,” I said, and a minute later the first George appeared, walking slowly and chewing off tree leaves as it came out of the forest into the clearing. “Remember, quiet, Nicoli,” I said. The child nodded solemnly, but was still waving his George. The first George was taller than the cars that were parked in the driveway, with a long neck and tail, green, scaly skin, and large feet like an elephant. It looked like a smaller version of pictures I’d seen of the Earth dinosaur Brontosaurus. They were sweet animals and Nico was in love with them.

“Oh my,” whispered Marcus as more of the George came out of the forest. 

“What are they?” asked the woman. 

I smiled. “They’re the George, or Onerosus modestus if you want to be scientific about it. They’re the major fauna on this continent. Don’t worry, they’re herbivores.”

“Fascinating,” she said. “But why George?”

I chuckled quietly. “The head of the science team that first came on to Schwyz who discovered them had a four year old who saw them and immediately called them George. No matter what else they tried to call them, George always stuck. They’re a huge favorite with the kids, including Nico here.” Nico looked up at me and smiled, then went back to staring at the George.

More of the George came out of the forest and wandered through the fields, coming towards the house. There were several small George, and when Nico saw them, he whispered, “Un-ka Ya-na! Baby George!”

“I see them! There’s a lot of them this time, aren’t there!”

Nico nodded. I pressed my wristcom to call the others, and Yuna came out first with a large bowl of the local lettuce-type plant. She started at the strangers on the porch, but didn’t say anything. She carefully brought one of the chairs over and sat next to us, handing a large leaf to Nico. His eyes lit up, and with his free hand he held the leaf high. One of the George finally saw the humans and came lumbering over to the porch, and with a deep rumbling “Mmmmwahw,” gently nibbled the leaf from Nico’s hand. Yuna quickly gave him another leaf, the toddler held it up and the George took it. I heard the rest of the family come out of the house, moving slowly with their own bowls. The other George saw the new humans and came over to investigate, including the young ones. Lina went over to Marcus and the woman and handed them her bowl of leaves. Marcus looked dubious, but the woman pulled out a couple of leaves from the bowl and held them up. One of the other George came over, gave its own “Mmmmmwahw,” and nibbled her leaf. When it was done it looked curiously at her bright red hair, leaned over, sniffed, then wuffed at the hair trying to nibble it. I stifled my laugh as she went wide eyed and still. The George, finally figuring out it wasn’t a new kind of leaf, blew out another breath, then went for the bowl of leaves. Marcus took it and held it up for the George, and the George munched happily. 

Yuna leaned over and said to Nico, “You want to feed the babies?” Nico nodded enthusiastically, and Yuna picked him up and took him down the stairs of the porch with the bowl of leaves. The little George came over to investigate, and Yuna helped Nico hold out the leaves for them. They all started to go for the bowl, which set Nico into giggles, which made all of us smile, even Marcus and the woman. 

The woman smiled at me. “Hard to resist baby giggles,” she said, then jumped as another George came up and sniffed her. Marcus put his hand to his mouth as the large creature blew into her hair.

“They must think you’re some sort of weird flower or something, Jess,” said Marcus. 

Lina shook her head. “No, they’ve just never seen a red-headed human before,” she said, quietly. “They’re not afraid of us, really, but are easily startled. My colleagues think that they might think that we’re strangely shaped members of their herds. This is the time of year where the herds start migrating north to spend the summer under the shadow of the Scherbhorn. There’s about ten herds, and most of them come through our fields. We keep their way as clear as we can since they use the same paths each year. They don’t have any natural predators, you see. They’re very gentle herbivores and very curious about us.” As she said that, another of the adults gave out a “Mmmmwah!” and leaned over to get pets from Lina. Another put his head near me, and I reached up with my left hand to give it a scratch near its ear earholes. They gave a satisfied, “MmmmmmmmMM,” stayed for a moment, then continued on it’s way. 

Nico and Yuna came back up the steps, empty bowl in hand, with Nico’s eyes wide and happy. The George let out a chorus of “Mmmmmwah’s” and ambled away from the house. When they had moved out of sight, Nico said, “I fed babies, Un-ka!” 

“I know! I saw! You did a really good job!”

“Bye-bye George!” he yelled at the retreating George. 

“Bye-bye George!” I repeated.

So, obviously, I had to find a George, and I found one!

Insert gleeful giggles here.

I’ve also gained some new pens and ink! In the picture are three really cool bottles of Iron Gall ink from Tools to Liveby in Taiwan. The bottles are cool because you tip them upside down and it fills the top part of the bottle so you can fill your pen, then you put the cap on and press it a few times so the ink goes back into the bottom part of the bottle. So cool!

The really weird looking pen is a Rotring Core fountain pen, which is no longer made by Rotring. If you don’t know Rotring, they are a pen company that makes some of the best pens on the planet! Their fine tip pens are stellar. Well, true to form, this fountain pen is amazing, but weird looking, and writes incredibly well. The grip is odd, but it’s actually comfortable. The only issue I have with it is that you can’t post the cap, but over all, that’s not a big deal. The smaller green pen is a Chinese bladder fill pen, that came as a freebie with the Rotring pen! It also, surprisingly, writes really well. 

I don’t have a picture of them, but I’ve been getting a lot of new ink, too. I’ve got a lot of new Diamine inks, along with more of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks (which I’m really obsessed with for some reason). I’ve got two more new pens on their way, but I’ll show those off next month!

And, last, but by no means least, I also now have a Tardigrade plushie, who is named Paul (after Paul Stamets on Discovery). He, along with my George, are my writing buddies. 🙂

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 Edit Pass Complete – 137K words )

Colony: After the events of Unity, Jenny returns to her home colony where she, Lulu and another agent realize that someone else was also behind the New Harmonists. (Writing – 72910 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 – 143K words – with first readers)

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)

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:

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:

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

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. 

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. 🙂

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!