Writing Renaissance

I don’t know why, though I suspect that part of it has to do with the fact that my day job has gotten much slower and I am able to misappropriate more of my time there, but I have recently written a lot more.  And, being the scatterbrain that I am and the way that I follow whatever inspiration hits me then rein it in and hit the grindstone, not only have I written more, I’ve written more.

A list of the current projects I try to write on every day may clear up what I mean.  First, there is a novel set in the same universe as Lost Temple of the Soulless World that features one of the characters from that book that I have finished the first draft and am currently editing.  Second, there is a set of short stories in the same universe and featuring the same character (he’s sort of my cross between James Bond, Wolverine and a Texas Ranger) that also has a finished first draft that is now being edited. Third, I just finished the first draft of the next adventure supplement to Non-Essential Personnel that I am calling NEPocalypse though I’ll probably add a scene or two in editing.  Fourth, I’ve been researching and writing episodes for my pals’ podcast about my favorite subject Come and Take It!.  None of my episodes have been published, but one has been recorded so be on the lookout for the episodes on Cabeza de Vaca (the walkingest man in history) and the Native American Tribes of the Eastern half of the state (spoiler alert: white people suck.)

Finally, I just finished editing the sequel to the book I blogged about last week, The Island of Lost Forevers.  It has to go back to my co-author for her final edit but I suspect it won’t be too long before she has it polished and ready to publish.  I’ll be starting my part of the last book in the trilogy soon.

Now, I don’t know if any of this will ever earn me any kind of money or recognition, but I’m getting an immense amount of satisfaction just from doing it.  There is something nice about watching the pages fill up.

Anyway, to whet your appetites for The Island of Lost Forevers below is a link for a free preview of the first chapter.  Enjoy!
Chapter 1: http://striker.greaterumbrage.net/the-mystical-island-trilogy/island-of-lost-forevers/iolfchapter-1/

Island of Lost Forevers

Ten years ago, I began an incredible journey. No longer satisfied with scribbles and abandoned projects, I sat down with a very good friend to write a full-fledged novel. A decade later, the project has seen many ups and downs, halts and restarts, but at last I get to share it with you.

Introducing:

When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke. Not just a professor of philosophy, Damian studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover paradise unspoiled by modern advances. A sanctuary the travelers believe uninhabited, until they meet the island’s enigmatic ruler, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. Just as Catilen believes she’s put her difficulties behind her, trouble stirs on the island forcing her to reveal and test her empathic abilities.

Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

I’m beyond thrilled to share this, my first novel, with you. It was co-written by Megan Cutler.

And the cover was created by the lovely http://bethalvarez.blogspot.com Beth Alvarez It will be available for Kindle and Nook on <strong>Tuesday May 13th</strong>!If you’re interested in being notified when the book goes live, please sign up for Megan’s Newsletter http://striker.greaterumbrage.net/newsletter/ photo iolf-2_zpsc8ad163e.jpg

Adios Amigo!

Assume that the appropriate Queen song is playing in the background of this post:

If you’re reading this, it means that my best friend has moved away.  This is not the first time that this has happened to me.  My best friend from elementary school moved away at the beginning of junior high, my best friend from junior high moved away half way through high school and my best friend in college moved away right after graduation.

 

You’d think I’d be used to it, but Josh going to Austin is the first time it’s happened since college.  In fact, I’ve been friends with the same basic group of people for more than 15 years, now.

 

And Josh is the coolest of them.  (Almost) everything I like, he likes a little more or a little better.  I like RPG’s, he likes RPG’s and is always looking to try new ones.  I like Legos, he’s part of TEXLUG, the Texas Lego Users Group which is basically the Lego fan club in this state.  I like comics, he likes the comics that are making comics new and fresh.

 

He’s been my travelling companion to all but one of Fear the Cons since it began.  For that matter, he introduced me to Fear the Boot and Fear the Con.  From that beginning I started listening to the Podgecast, the Bear Swarm and the Walking Eye and he turned me on to the Nerdist.

 

As Phur Stade (say it out loud) he was one of the core members of my almost decade long 3E game and even played one of the prestige classes I created.  As M’Zashi, he’s taken the role of a commander and helped make the NPC’s in the game as important as I would like them to be.

 

And he introduced me to lots of games, Fiasco, Shab Al Hirri Roach, and many more.

 

He’s also cast a critical eye on the games I’ve created.  Josh’s name should be listed as an editor on Adventuring! Company, the upcoming Restaurant at the Other End of the Universe and the potentially never to be published One True Thing. This has been a painful process from time to time because I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my stuff.  But while he has been faintly brutal in his efficiency, his advice has made my work better and it has not been done maliciously.

 

With Josh moving, my game group goes down to 4 players (with a possible 5th) which seems moderately unstable.  I’m hoping we can continue, though I don’t know if the current campaign can continue.  I also cannot imagine not playing, so I may have t seek another source for my weekly gaming fix.

 

I know Austin is only about 3 hours away but then so is my Mom’s house, though not in the same direction.  I definitely do not see her as often as I should so I don’t have any illusions about how often I’ll see Josh.  Still, he’s more savvy about the interwebs so I may just have to continue our friendship digitally.

 

Good luck in Austin, Josh!  Don’t be a stranger.

 

It’s not good-bye, it’s See You Soon.

Nuevo Tejas #3

MILITARY:

All able bodied Nuevo Tejan men are given basic military training at the age of 18 (though by this time a large percentage of them already know how to shoot and survive in the wild.) Any able bodied woman is also allowed to volunteer for this training and approximately 60% do so. From the age of 18 to the age of 40, all people who take this training are considered part of the Nuevo Tejan Militia. Only disability will allow a man out of this service during this time, though a woman may opt out within two years of getting pregnant.

Militia service is generally far from an arduous task. Three days out of every month, each member of the Militia meets up at the local armory/base for training exercises and drills. Two weeks out of each year, each Militiaman serves a full shift at the armory/base on guard/repair/upkeep duty. Only a handful of men and women join the Militia full time, working as professional soldiers, usually in command, organization and bookkeeping roles. Of course, in times of emergency, every Militiaman is expected to report for duty and serve.

The Militia is the closest thing to a standard army that Nuevo Tejas has. They provide supply and support services, man the destroids, tanks, APC’s and aircraft of the army and work as communications engineers, paramedics and all the other “common” jobs needed to make a military force work. They also serve in emergency, disaster situations to help the community/civilians in need.

Three of the main cities in Nuevo Tejas have factories dedicated to producing hardware for the Militia. Fort North’s factory produces destroids and their replacement parts. Paso Grande has a modest aeronautics factory while San Teresa builds ground vehicles from personnel carriers and tanks to hovercraft.

However, there is also a special military unit for the colony known as the Nuevo Tejan Rangers. These men and women all pilot Veritechs and are the only people on the planet trained in their use. They are essentially the only professional soldiers in the colony. It is their duty to not only protect the skies and space of Nuevo Tejas, but also to escort the transport ships that carry on trade to other colonies. Most of their time is spent on these escort missions, fighting off raids by human pirates and fending off stray Rogue Zentraedi and Meltrandi fleets.

Although they are pledged to serve and defend Nuevo Tejas, the Rangers are fairly independent and each of them owns (or holds stock in) their fighter. There is only one production facility on the planet (in Neo Artemis) that can manufacture all of the complex parts necessary to produce a Veritech. Most of their work goes into producing spare parts and performing repairs on the 116 fighters already in the fleet. However, about once a year (depending on how heated the Ranger’s battles have been and how many repairs are necessary) they produce enough parts to construct an entirely new veritech. When this happens, the assembled mecha is put up for auction. Usually, it takes a consortium, powerful/rich family, or town to put together enough money to have a chance of winning, but occasionally, a very rich individual will be able to buy one. This person or group is then responsible for the upkeep of the veritech and providing it with a Ranger to pilot it. Afterwards, the Ranger is expected to put the needs of the colony above the needs of whoever bought the veritech and, though there have been a few exceptions, most of them do so.

The Rangers are technically not under the command of any official of Nuevo Tejas, though there has only been one case when they have denied a request of the President. They were asked to quell a rebellion against the President and, given the fact that the President was abusing his power and attempting a military coup, they declined just before helping to run him out of office. The Captain of the Rangers, much like any official with any power on the planet is elected. Every three years, each Ranger votes on who they would like to become the new Captain. Given the fact that the group is fairly tight, and that there are no term limits, most Captains serve from their first election until they are no longer capable of piloting their veritech.

It should be noted that the Rangers don’t have their own supply infrastructure. Rather they depend on special branches of the Militia to provide supplies, medical services and repairs. Thus, though they are a paramilitary force, they have close ties to the Militia, and other than some good natured ribbing, each group generally respects the other.

The Ranger’s mecha are a mixed bag. Three of the original VF-11 Thunderbolts that came along with the colonists are still in active service. Two VF-17 Nightmares that made the trip are also still in use. The remainder of the veritechs are VF-9 Cutlasses and a pair of VF-9 variants invented by the Nuevo Tejans.

The first, the VF-9B Bandit eliminates the shoulder mounted beam cannons and replaces them with a pair of the Gatling Gunpods designed and utilized by the VF-17 Nightmare. The combat computers for the Bandits have been specially modified so that these two gunpods can be used separately or in conjunction on a single target in any mode.

The second, the VF-9D Desperado makes a similar change, also replacing the beam cannons with the Nightmare’s special gunpods. However, these gunpods are the second kind that fire a single, devastating laser rather than solid shells. These gunpods are not capable of being used in conjunction and can only be fired separately.

The three variants occur almost completely equally in the Ranger forces and the weapons load out is the last thing added to the veritech so the buyer of a new mecha gets to choose which variant gets constructed.

Rangers are trained in hit and run tactics, surprise attacks and methods of using their veritech’s strengths to greatest advantage. They seldom engage in drawn out dogfights, but will whittle their opponents down and harass them over long periods of time before swooping in for a final, savage blow. They also closely follow wingman tactics. Every Ranger is paired with another, and sometimes groups of three are used. For obvious reasons, pairs of Desperadoes are never used, though they can be teamed up with either other variant and pairs of Cutlasses or Bandits or mixes of the two make up the remaining groups.

FLAG:

The Nuevo Tejan flag incorporates the two flags of the lands that the colonists originated from and emulate.

It consists of three equally sized vertical bars. From left to right the bars are colored Green, Red, and Blue. In the middle of the center, Red bar is a large, white Star.

Nuevo Tejas #2

More info on the Macross Texans:

HOBBIES/PASTIMES:

Most of the hobbies, sports and pastimes of Earth were brought along with the Nuevo Tejans. There are baseball, basketball, football and soccer games, as well as chess, checkers and a variety of other board games. Hunting and fishing, as well as riding (horses and Zergans, and ATV’s and motorcycles) are also popular. Racing of all kinds is avidly practiced and followed by fans. However, there are two modified sports from Earth that while not uniquely Nuevo Tejan are heavily adapted.

Rodeos: The Nuevo Tejans are primarily herders and all of the skills needed by cowboys in the Old West are needed by the brontoboys of the new colony. The old way of practicing and comparing these skills has also carried over, with a number of changes. Horses have lost almost all importance in these displays of skills and courage. While breaking horses to a saddle is still an important part of every ranch’s function, it is not nearly as entertaining to watch as someone riding a bull or brontolo. In fact, even the spectacle of bull riding pales in comparison to watching a man try to cling to the back of a bucking, enraged two to three ton brontolo. Many of the racing contests have been taken over by zergan riders as well. While barrel racing, or the equivalent is not popular for zergan riders, balloon racing is. In balloon racing, a number of balloons are secured several yards apart at a 45 degree angle. A foot diameter ring hangs from each balloon and the goal is for a zergan rider to grab as many of these rings as possible in as quick a time as he’s able. There is also dive racing where a number of competing zergan riders guide their mounts in a straight down dive towards a large, square area set near the ground. The first one to cross into the square is the winner and the riders have to time when they pull up just right to make it down first without crashing afterwards. Invariably, some misjudge this time and every year there are disastrous and often fatal accidents. Nonetheless, there are no shortage of men and women who desire nothing more than to be rodeo stars, and with little surprise. Each large ranch and town supports their own team of rodeo performers and the larges contests are broadcast all over the planet. Truly skilled and famous rodeo stars are as popular and idolized as actors, singers, and sports stars on most other worlds.

Footbol: A conglomeration of the two most popular sports in the Texas/Mexico region before the coming of the Zentraedi, footbol has all the same rules as soccer. The basic goal is to get a ball into a net at the opponent’s end of the field without using one’s hands. The only real difference is the fact that everyone wears a set of light pads, a necessary requirement given the fact that footbol is a full contact sport. It is perfectly legal, and, indeed, encouraged for defensemen to tackle anyone in possession of the ball. While the other sports brought to Nuevo Tejas enjoy some popularity, footbol commands the attention of the colonists. Everyone feels closely affiliated with one of the professional teams or another and outright riots have occurred during and after championship games. Footbol stars are even more popular than rodeo stars and more than one has been elected to public office because of their on field abilities.

SOCIETY:

For the most part, Nuevo Tejas possesses a scattered, agrarian society. There are only a handful of cities of any respectable size on the whole continent and the county fairs held each year are far more important times and places of social interaction than any of the towns. In fact, all of the towns hold one or more “cotillions” that emulate the dances and gatherings at these fairs as the social event(s) of the year. A fair or cotillion is a time for people to gather, gossip, trade, make deals, allow young people to meet possible suitors and, in general, reaffirm the bonds that keep human beings connected to each other. Depending on where the county/town is and what their economy depends on, rodeos, footbol tournaments, livestock raising competitions, carving contests, cooking contests and/or sewing competitions are held at these fairs and cotillions in addition to the dancing and music that plays every night. Everyone dresses in their fanciest clothes to dance and the majority of married couples throughout the colony met at one of these dances.

Art and theatre are poorly patronized in Nuevo Tejas. Most people struggle to subsist and make a better life for themselves and their families rather than wasting resources on such ephemeral things. However, there is a long, strong tradition of both music and storytelling as well as more practical forms of art such as woodcarving and quilt making. In addition, in places like San Teresa, Neo Artemis, North Fort and Paso Grande, the wealthier families have erected museums, theatres and art houses to bring culture to the planet. For the most part, these endeavors have been ignored by the common people, but as disposable income begins to rise, more notice is being given.

Every society of humans has a class or caste system and Nuevo Tejas is no different. Like essentially everywhere else, those with power and money hold a higher social position than those without. However, given that pretty much every Nuevo Tejan considers him or herself equal to pretty much everyone and that the “commoners” are notoriously proud, these theoretical social positions really only apply amongst other people with power and money. The average rancher or brontoboy is as likely to laugh at the demands or requests of a snooty rich person as fulfill them. Still, a rodeo or footbol star or a famous warrior enjoys a position of status that no one else can touch and are almost considered royalty by most people.

GOVERNMENT:

The Nuevo Tejan government promotes individual freedom and limited political interference above all. Taxes are kept low as only the (modest) salaries of elected officials, the schools and upkeep on the military have to be paid for. All local officials are directly elected. In towns, this means the mayor, judges, police chief and city council. Prosecuting attorneys and police officers are hired normally, but are sometimes removed when a new head judge or police chief comes into power. In rural counties, this means a governor, judges, sheriff, and aldermen. Of course, the same rules apply about the sheriff’s deputies and country judges’ prosecutors as in the city. It is often the whim of the newly elected official that determines if someone keeps their job. However, anyone too capricious quickly finds themselves out of office if they let personal prejudices interfere with what is best for the people.

The people do not vote directly for the colonial leaders. Instead, the mayors and governors come together and select the president of the colony while each city council and group of aldermen choose someone to serve as their representative in the colonial congress. A group of eleven supreme judges reign until they either die or are too infirm to continue. When one supreme judge steps down, the lower judges vote to elevate another judge to his or her place.

For those offices that are regularly elected, elections are held every four years. These elections are staggered so that local elections are held two years before the local officials meet to elect the colonial leaders. Thus, colonial leaders have to continuously woo their constituents as they can change radically halfway through their terms.

Nuevo Tejas has stayed neutral in the burgeoning Journeyman war. Though they have not officially sided with the Journeymen or attacked UN forces, they have also done nothing to stem the tide of growing anti-UN sentiment and unrest. Not to mention the fact that they haven’t paid taxes or sent any officials to the UN for decades. This decision was not heralded by a display of defiance or any such theatrics, the Nuevo Tejans simply stopped wasting their resources by sending them away. By their reckoning, they are free and independent and everyone else can take care of themselves, or not.

INDUSTRY:

The primary industry of Nuevo Tejas is herding. Vast herds of brontolos cover the central plains of the continent, both tamed and wild. Brontoboys keep watch over these animals, caring for them, protecting them from devil snakes and periodically driving large groups to one of the various processing/port cities to be slaughtered and turned into delectable meat for both the colonists and for their trade partners in the Sigma system.

They also grow enough other types of food to support their population though not enough to export. People in the eastern part of the continent use their wooded lands and carpentry skills to build furniture and other wooden goods while a few mines in the mountains to the west produce metals and ores necessary to carry on the rudiments of a technological civilization. There are vehicle manufacturing plants, textile mills, electronics shops and all the other industries that make up a modern society, though they are far from common and produce barely enough to meet the desires of the Nuevo Tejans, let alone having a surplus to export. In the end, Nuevo Tejas could probably survive with no outside contact, however it would hardly be a luxurious life and might be patently uncomfortable.