Winter is Coming…and I don’t mind!

Hello friends!

It’s November, which means the fog and rain and cold has come down on Zurich. Not that I really mind, as I love Fall, Winter, and early Spring more than Summer. Me and hot weather don’t get along very well. 

The best part of Fall and Winter is the food, and one of my favorite winter foods is my Memere’s (Grandmother) Cretons recipe (aka Guntor in my family). It’s basically a pork pate with cinnamon, clove, onion, and garlic. It’s takes about 6-8 hours to cook, but OMG, it’s so worth it! You have it on toast with a good mustard, and it’s just amazing. It also makes your house smell amazing when you cook it (it really drove the Wife crazy the day I made it).

Sooo good!

I am deep into NaNoWriMo working on my 5th novel (a sequel to the first 4). It’s not too bad this year, but the novel is coming to me in a really random way. I write a part here, then another part comes that happens before that part, and then I have to re-write another part. Then a day later I figure out more of the plot line for the first book and get an idea for a second. Ahhh, the writer’s life, amirite?

My other writing project has been writing to various pen pals that I’ve met through various fountain pen enthusiast websites. It’s been fun writing with all my fancy inks, pens, and paper to people all over the world. And, well, I have to admit that getting snail mail that isn’t a bill is pretty awesome!

The Wife, who is the awesomest wife ever, saw my letter writing and decided to get me an early Yule present of an antique Victorian stationery box! I mean, look at this thing!! The glass inkwells are gorgeous, and there’s blue satin in the lid of the box. I’ve given the wood a good polish with museum-grade polish, and cleaned the brass on the inkwells as best I could. I actually do have ink in the inkwells right now (Tools To Liveby Iron Gall ink. Red on the left, blue on the right). And yes, I’ve been using dip pens with it, as I have three of them now. Sometimes I like using the dip pens for writing letters, since it gives my hand a break from the regular pens. 

The Victorian Stationery Box!

The other beautiful acquisition I’ve gotten recently is a Writer’s Box from Blue Star Crafts! This box is so beautiful! It smells so good with the handmade wood and leather! I’ve had it personalized and it also has a lock and key! I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to fill it yet, since I’m not traveling right at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. 

The last thing I’ve gotten was the Diamine Inkvent Calendar, and it’s been sitting here since the end of October, taunting me! I’m looking forward to opening an ink a day when December gets here! I also got an Advent calendar of nail art supplies from Madam Glam. I recently learned how to do my own fake nails (using polygel) and they look really good! 

Since it’s coming on Winter, I’m also picking up my yarn spinning again. I got a Woolee Winder for my electric spinning wheel, and OMG, it’s so awesome! It basically makes it so you don’t have to keep stopping and moving the hook on the flyer! 10/10 would recommend! (And I’m going to get one of them for my Louet Victoria, too!) Although, I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner. It takes a little fiddling with the wheel to get it going just right.

Well, it’s time to get back to writing! Hope all my American friends have a good Turkey Day!

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 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)

Ancestor Series

Nemetona: A lone Captain and his AI answer a distress call from a sentient species who are dying. (Writing — 10864 words — NaNoWriMo Project)

Mercury Series

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

Short Story: The Only Way To Travel

In memory of Mira Furlan.

“Oh, shit! I’m late!” I said, as I finally looked up at the departures screen. I threw my tablet, phone, and other stuff in my carry-on and dashed out of the business lounge door. The elevators were too slow, so I ran up the two flights of stairs to the tracks, finally making it to the departure gate with five minutes to spare. I rummaged through my bag, and while I could find my passport, my boarding pass was nowhere to be found. “Oh fuck!” I said, quietly, although an old woman did turn around to stare at me. I ignored her and went over to the desk.

“Hello, how can I help you?” said the clerk when my turn came around. They had that kind of smile that showed they were stressed out and annoyed, but couldn’t show it. 

“I’m so sorry about this, but I seemed to have lost my boarding pass. It might even be in the business lounge. I’ve looked all through my bag,” I said, practically babbling.

“It’s all right Ma’am, not to worry. The boarding passes for the Global Express are also online, so if you have your phone, you can download yours right now.”

I sighed, annoyed with myself. “Of course it is! Why didn’t I think of that earlier? Sorry to bug you!”

The clerk gave a genuine smile this time. “My pleasure, Ma’am. Have a good trip!”

“Thank you,” I said, pulled out my phone, downloaded my boarding pass, and got back in line. I was one of the last people to go through the gate and out onto the tracks. The Global Express was a new form of travel. It looked like a massive train, but it had a new type of engine that did something with time which shortened even the longest trips to an hour or less. I was nervous to take the Express, since it was so new, but my company wanted me to get to a meeting in Europe right away, so they shelled out the money for the ticket. 

I’d heard rumors, too, about people who took the Global Express and refused to ever take it again. But since it was so expensive, I hadn’t known anyone who had taken it except for the CEO. He assured me that it was an experience not to be missed, but wouldn’t elaborate. I sighed. I just wanted to get this over with so I could get to the client in Berlin then go home.

I boarded at the first door I came to, as the chime was ringing for departure. I hefted my bag so it was fully behind me in order to navigate the narrow, sloping passage to the seating area. I looked at my seat number on my phone. “Of course my seat is all the way at the far end,” I said out loud. I sighed again as one of the attendants began to speak.

“Hello, passengers! Welcome aboard the Global Express powered by the SciTex Time Engine! If everyone could please take their seats, we will be departing shortly. Our perceived travel time today between Los Angeles and Berlin will be twenty five minutes. Because of the International Freedom Laws, we cannot force anyone to stay in their seats during the drip, but it is strongly suggested that you stay in your assigned seat with the cocoon up until the Global Express has come to a complete stop. Please store all carry-ons under your seat for safety. Again, we welcome you aboard the Global Express and wish you a pleasant trip!” The attendant then repeated the announcement in several different languages.

I hurried along, trying to find my seat. After the announcement, the machine started moving, and at first it felt like a conventional train pulling out of a station, giving the usual lurch that always seemed to knock me around. I bumped into another passenger and mumbled, “Excuse me.” They gave me the stink eye, but hurried off to find their own seat. I looked up and was relieved to see a sign above a door that said “Seats 200-250.” I barged through and found the seats arranged about a meter apart, like we were in a movie theater, with a screen at the front that was giving travel information and showing tourism ads. I climbed up the steps and finally found my seat, number 236. 

Other people said hello as I squeezed down the row to my seat. There were people who had already engaged the cocoon around themselves, though there were plenty of others who hadn’t bothered who were laughing and talking. I was putting my bag away when a computerized voice said, “Time Dilation Commencing.”

“No, wait, I’m not strapped in!” I said to the voice, but it was too late. Reality gave a mighty twist, and suddenly I could see my life running through my mind, but it wasn’t the one I was living now. Somehow I was a stay at home parent with multiple children. Then I saw myself as an artist living in a house in the desert. Then it changed again to me living in an RV with a man and another person, singing as we traveled along the highway. Now I was a business woman sitting in a cafe in Zürich, drinking coffee, waiting for my partner to get out of work. The scenes kept changing, seemingly showing me all the possible different lives I could have had. 

After what felt like an eternity, the lives stopped passing through my mind, and I realized I was on the floor next to my seat curled up in a fetal position. I could hear other people talking and screaming as they too experienced their possible lives. I tried to uncurl myself, but my muscles wouldn’t relax. I was so anxious and scared, that I couldn’t even call for help. 

I heard people moving around and eventually a person in a white suit that looked like a smaller version of a space suit stopped in front of me. “Are you OK?” they asked. 

I shook my head, but couldn’t unclench my jaw enough to talk. 

“All right, I just want to let you know that the time dilation can affect people in this way and that the effect is only temporary. If you would like a sedative to relax you, I can give you one.”

I nodded and the attendant pushed an injector to my neck. I flinched, but then my body began to relax. I stretched out my legs, coughed, and said, “Thank you,” in a gravelly voice. 

The attendant nodded. “You should get into your seat, if you can,” they said and walked away. I managed to sit up, but had no real desire to stand. I felt wobbly from the sedative and I figured it would be better to just stay on the floor rather than risk falling down again. The screen in front of us was ticking down the time to Berlin, and we still had fifteen minutes to go. I looked to the left and right of me, and there was another woman coming down the aisle towards me. She ignored the closed cocoons, but when she saw me, she sat down on the floor in front of me.

“Is this your first trip on the Express?” she asked.

I nodded. 

“Took the sedative?”

I nodded again. 

“Yeah, I did that the first time, too. But now I don’t bother because I’m used to it. Do you know that each time you travel through the time dilation you see more versions of what your life could have been? I’ve seen so many of my possible lives that I’ve actually changed my real one! The more I change my real life, the more I see when I travel.” Her eyes were bright and glassy and wide. I wasn’t sure why she decided to talk to me, but I wondered about whether or not she was still quite sane. “I’m Mira, by the way.”

“I…” I coughed and tried again. “I’m… hang on! How do you afford so many trips?”

“Oh, in this life I’m a trust fund kid. Daddy pays for it. But this trip I saw a life where I lived on an island eating fish, so I think maybe I should just give it all up this time.”

“Why?”

“My life is boring. Even my other lives are boring. But this time, this time was different. I wasn’t only eating the fish, but there was a woman teaching me how to cook it. I want to find her.”

I stared at the woman. She sounded so sure that this was what she should do. I thought of the lives that had passed through my own mind, and felt like maybe I, too, was on the wrong path. “I think I understand,” I said.

“Yeah?”

I nodded. “My life, my real life, isn’t what I thought it would be. The truth is, I hate what I’m doing. I hate being a corporate exec. I have no personal life. I’m so lonely…” I trailed off, tears rolling down my face. 

Suddenly, a loud popping noise erupted in the cabin. Mira laid herself flat on the floor and we both looked out between the seats. A large man was shooting his rifle into the ceiling, which seemed to absorb the bullets as they hit it. A number of people in the same white suits as the attendant tackled him, wrenching the gun from him. They lifted him up, strapped him into a seat, and cocooned him. 

“That’s a first,” said Mira.

“Oh?” I asked.

“Well, the Freedom laws say he can bring the gun on board, but usually folks pack them in their checked luggage. This is the first time I’ve seen one brought on as a carry on. They’ll probably take it off him when we get to Germany, though. They don’t like it when Americans try to bring guns.”

I sat up again and thought for a moment. “Hey, shouldn’t I be more scared that some crazy guy was shooting his gun?”

“Probably, but that sedative is pretty strong,” Mira said. She looked at the screen. “Five minutes left. Hang on!” and she flattened out on the floor again. 

I followed her lead. When the twist of time and different timelines came again, I noticed that this time I wasn’t alone in them. There was a woman with me. In some timelines we traveled, and in some we had a house and a family, in others we lived on a farm, or in the mountains in a chalet. Then, as suddenly as the timelines started, they stopped. 

“Passengers, we have now stopped in Berlin. The time is 1800 and the weather is nineteen degrees. Please check around your seat for any items that may have moved or shifted during the trip. Thank you for taking the Global Express, and we hope to see you again soon!” 

I sat up while the attendant started speaking in other languages, feeling mostly normal again, then managed to stand and extract my carryon from the chair. Mira stood up, too, and stared at me. “So, uh, do you want to…” she began.

“Would you like to go to dinner with me?” I said at the same time, surprising myself. 

The other woman smiled, which seemed to light up the room. After a moment, she said, “I’d like that.” I smiled and followed her off the train into the Berlin night.

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.