Thursday, July 18, 2024

Naming characters

Naming characters is always a bit of a challenge. I try to derive from real nationalities that fit the culture of the characters. However, I do make some changes and set up rules.

In the Starfire Angels universe, there are some rules I established when it came to cultures. For instance, Inari names do kind of have a mash between Japanese and biblical names. There's also a general ending of male names of -is, although that's not a rule, just a general style. Their names are also backwards ordered from western names, which the Ethalians copy--familial name then individual name, or what we would consider last-name first-name order. They also are a matriarchal culture, so the mother's familial name is assigned to children.

For other fictional cultures, I used different styles. Since Feri don't use hard consonants (c/k, q, t) their language is softer in some ways, but I wanted it to be a language of beauty, an irony for their warrior and cultish religious discipline. Their name order is another that's unique, a first-name middle-name [of] father-name [and from] mother-name at their fullest. You'll see this in Book 13, SOUL SHADOW, when L'Ni is identified by his full name in his memories.

And sometimes, I name things after real life. The name Zaer was inspired by a real last name I saw and I thought that had just the right sound for the character. 

And in an upcoming book - ALL THE KING'S MEN - I have a horse named after a real horse I knew.

Red (aka Blood) bay horse - red body
with black mane & tail, ear tips, &
lower legs, often the muzzle too. 

(ID 28896658 © Virgonira
- Dreamstime.com)
In this case, the character is an animal and I didn't hesitate to make him identical to the real life namesake. In the case of the horse in the story, Quint was the real name of a Quarter Horse ridden by the men in my stepfamily when I was a kid. Quint was the meanest gelding I ever knew and I kept my distance from him. He would only respect men, until he was a senior and slowed down. He was cowy through and through, though, which means he could turn any cow and went after them like the devil he was.

In the story, the fictional Quint has very little page time but has a big presence like his namesake. I made him a red (blood) bay like his namesake too and just as mean, but a stallion instead of a gelding (the real Quint was a gelding and still as mean as any stallion might be). The fictional horse, however, has a touch of intelligence such as I've seen on some horses who can seem nuts but turn docile when a particular situation requires it. I once had a half-Arabian that did this--completely forward and ready to go for me but absolutely deadhead on a loose rein when a child rode him.

As a horseperson, it was fun for me to feature an equine minor character, and it kind of made up for being chased by that mean gelding I grew up fearing.

The horse in the story has a small part, but he became a big personality within the story and gets to kick some Issan in armor. And the reason there are horses on a planet in another galaxy is explained in the series--transplanted from Earth like the humans, same as the Ethalians.

Now, I just need to write the description for ALL THE KING'S MEN. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to share some of the background on it.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PILOT EPISODE: The Promised Land Series

I came across this and am enjoying it more than I expected. Imagine the story of the Exodus from Egypt... The Office style. 🀣

(It helps to have read the Bible to have some background.)


I recognize some of the actors and actresses in this.

Monday, July 15, 2024

For Such a Time as This...

After what happened Saturday, I have debated on sharing this, but feel that now is an appropriate time, given my faith posts and my blog page with the hundreds of links of faith videos, articles, and YouTube Channels. There is a divine providence in the miraculous circumstances that saved the life of Pres. Donald Trump that was pre-ordained for such a time as this:


"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 
- Esther 4:14



And for something else to help people realize why we need God more than ever, an excellent presentation about eliminating our sins so that we can grow closer to God:


Sunday, July 7, 2024

It's here... HOMECOMING

The book is finished, uploaded, and already reaching some of the major bookstores.

I finished last night but had some reservations about publishing and waited until this morning, after letting myself sleep on it. I had to be absolutely certain that the book was really ready. Part of that was giving myself a chance to think of any more details like I had done already--things come to me when I'm not actively editing but in that mindset doing something else like household chores.

The other part was debating a couple of places in the book, whether I wanted to keep some sections of backstory (aka info-dump/flashback narrative) in the story about some of the side characters. However, these were characters from the earlier parts of the Starfire Angels series (Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations). I decided that these characters and their past interactions were worth explaining, because it highlights something more about the Starfire, which readers will know is a key to defeating the Issan deity, and because it offers something about the past of the characters and touches on their links to one another. Those who read the other two series will appreciate the updates more than new readers, but it will help new readers too.

I finally decided that I could either edit it to death or just publish. It's the same old battle. As I get further along on this series, I get a bit more paranoid about missing things or messing up a detail, but I did go back to Remnants and reviewed bits of the Nepur'din information there.

In the end, I feel that HOMECOMING is as good as it could get and any more editing would probably detract from it. It's a fine line between editing enough and over-editing.

It's now available. I'll send out the email notice tomorrow. (I'm still waiting on a couple of retail links.) You can find all the links on the book page as I update them at https://www.melanienilles.com/books/homecoming/.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

About forgiveness... helpful advice (don't let it drag you to hell!)

If you're wondering why I've been sharing more faith videos on this blog, it serves two purposes, one selfish and one in charity: 1) selfish--to keep this blog active in the long gaps between writing updates and 2) charity--to help others discover the fullness of the faith that has transformed my life and brought me closer to God.

Since my writing contains bits and pieces of the virtues and values of my faith, this isn't in opposition to my writing but, rather, a complement to it. My books are written so that all can enjoy them, whether you believe in God or not. They don't preach, or at least I don't think they preach; I try not to preach, but sometimes characters do exert their beliefs, whether I agree or not, just like real people, because it expresses a part of who they are. Preaching the faith is not the purpose in my fiction; the primary goal there is just to tell entertaining stories, but stories without glorifying sin. I simply include heroes/heroines that share my values in some form or another, often deficient in ways that allow for growth, just as we are in real life deficient and (should be) seeking growth. 

I'm sharing this because I found another excellent video in my feed. This is about forgiving others of their transgressions (even politicians, entertainers, and other public figures--pray for their conversions rather than holding grudges or hating them). I needed this and know that everyone can benefit from this. Fr. Reehil's advice is so beautiful in this video that I had to share it and add it to my growing collection of resources on my Faith Resources page. 

There's also some excellent advice at the end of the video about confession. I have to say that it's one of my favorite (although most difficult) sacraments, because I feel like I've had a bath afterwards--my soul is renewed in the cleansing from reconciliation that comes from the confessional. The effect isn't as dramatic as you grow in virtue, which leads to less serious sins and greater sensitivity to the smallest sins. True life is about conforming your will to God's (which can be very challenging--giving up what you want to conform to God's law). You can't rely on feelings for that; rather, it's a matter of reason over feelings, keeping God's commandments in all the minutiae of our lives, down to the least condemnation of our thoughts. It's not easy, but it's so worthwhile! And the confessional is one of the greatest ways to grow in loving God. (Here's a link to help with the examination of conscience.)



Aside from that, I'll be finishing HOMECOMING, Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds, in the next few days. πŸ₯³

Watch for an announcement post on that.

God bless!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

upcoming print book

I have one more round of edits for Book 17 before it's done, but after finishing the latest edits last night, I decided today to take a break to complete a more tedious job... formatting. 😡

I've been working most of the day on formatting for the print version of Collection 3 (Books 11-15) to set up a hardcover on Barnes and Noble and a paperback with Amazon. Editing is difficult, but formatting is tedious.

And while formatting the file for the interior, I discovered a few formatting issues from the ebooks of these, so I'm going back and cleaning up those files to be sure the ebooks don't have any hidden issues (extra spaces, tabs, returns, etc.). I'll finish these five, then go back to the first ten and give those another pass.

There's always something, but the good thing about being indie is that I can easily make these changes and upload a new file... when I have time, because this is a tedious, time-consuming process, which is why many indies hire it out to others. It's also why I hate setting up print books--a LOT more steps to clean up and then reformat into a clean PDF and upload. Ebooks are just a matter of the DOCX file being directly uploaded. I don't have to worry about where a print page ends and a new chapter begins or where a section break ends and a new book begins (applicable to omnibus editions) or messing up my table of contents with page numbers of each book's starting page in the omnibus collection.

This is why I don't just make print books for all the books I have. I could, but it's also cheaper for readers to buy a 5-in-1 omnibus than individual print books. I can sell the paperback omnibus editions on Amazon for $19.95 versus $5-6 per individual book; and since these are 5-book omnibus editions, that's like getting one whole book free. For a hardcover, it's an even bigger savings. However I do have to keep them exclusive to specific stores to keep the prices as low as possible.

So, if you're waiting on a print edition of the next five books of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series, it's in the works, as I had mentioned this past winter. These are the projects that I work on when I need a break from writing or editing. They require a different set of skills that's more process-oriented than creative in nature. It's a way to switch gears for a while.

I won't finish at this time, but I will work on it again after Book 17 is out. For now, the initial setup is done. I have a final clean-up of the files, then uploading and waiting on approval, ordering proofs and waiting on those, evaluating proofs, likely making changes and going through the approval and proof process again (one more more times), and finally approving the print books for sale. The approval and proof processes, since I like to see actual printed copies, are where the delays really come in.

If you're looking for a more exact time frame, I would expect to see Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Collection 3 (Books 11-15) print edition available by the time I'm getting Book 18 ready for publishing; in other words, within the next four months.

That's my best estimate. I'll announce when it's ready, and the links will be available from my website at that time. For now, the individual ebooks are available from all major book retailers, and the first two omnibus editions are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and hardcover respectively.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 28, 2024

Book 17 editing... one more week

I keep finding the little things to fix.

That's how progress on Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is going. I'm on the fourth round but still finding things to fix, although, as my normal editing progress goes, I am, predictably, at the stage of doing more removing than adding or rewriting.

It's cleaning up nicely, although the first chapter required a lot of work. First chapters always do, though. They should set up everything or at least introduce a question/issue that is the sprout that blossoms fully as the story moves along. Getting that set up requires a lot of finesse.

I'm nearly mind numb from editing, but one more round after this should allow me to be sure the other issues that came up are polished. I had almost forgotten a couple of details from the original Starfire Angels series that became the Dark Angel Chronicles, back when I established the rules of this universe. This one has a lot of continuity requirements since it brings back some of the DAC characters. I didn't want to over-explain things to those who started with this series but get just enough to understand the characters brought just over ten years into the future of that series to interact with Nya and her friends. I typically overwrite and have to cut. It's better than not having enough and having a reader that's lost.

I'm halfway through the current editing round and one more should take me into next weekend, after July 4th. I should have HOMECOMING available by the following week. This is about the time of the 15th anniversary of the release of the first Starfire Angels book. Book 17 of Forgotten Worlds will be the 37th story (or book, if you count a novelette and a few novellas as books) in the series. After this, there will only be eight more books to wrap up the series.

Book 17 is coming very soon!


Friday, June 14, 2024

Coming soon... Book 17

Edits of Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds are progressing with the hope of releasing the book before the end of the month, although no guarantees on that; by early July for sure. I'll have the next book in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series out in less than four months since the last book. It's now been about three months, so this is a much better pace than the last few books.

I'm maintaining two books ahead of publishing. This allows a cushion if I develop something or think of something later that I want to go back and add into a book. Experience in the past showed me that when writing a series, that's the best option. Not everything comes at once up front, and series ideas develop and change.  Usually something like that doesn't happen more than two books later.

This series has changed in small details as each book is written and I tweak things from the original outline. Sometimes it's the character development, but most often it's realizing that plot development and/or the science doesn't fit what I had originally planned and I need to make adaptations, which ripple out beyond that book. Of course, if you know how wave physics work, the further out from the source the ripple travels, the larger it becomes, so that requires adjustments in the outline so that ripple flows right along instead of crashing like a wave against rocks.

And then there is the issue of the writing itself. I've had a couple of scenes in this book (like every book) that really needed major hammering to mold them into what they needed to be. Chapter one has a major impact on the whole story; in this, the big revelation that I had mentioned long ago, so certain elements had to be included. This required more than my usual attention, because I've been hinting at this since the first book to prepare readers, unbeknownst to them; but the hints did get more and more obvious (or I thought they did; readers can chime in once they see it come to fruition). I had to reorganize the opening conversation of Book 17 to bring together all the hints that spark the rest of the story and will change dynamics of the whole series. This has been a delicate task. I knew it was a problem after writing it but just wanted to get everything possible for that scene out so it was on the page. It's smoothed out now and everything is in place for the setup of the rest of the book and the series.

As for the rest of Book 17, I'm halfway through this major editing stage with at least two more rounds of edits to go. Chapter one could still see a bit of editing, but nothing like this round of reorganizing and rewriting. I'm finding other places that need a lot of rewriting, but nothing like the first chapter (so far). Opening chapters area always the big ones for me, even when they aren't a big revelation. They should ignite the reader's interest by introducing tension immediately that needs to be resolved (aka the plot). I don't like slow openings.

So, watch for HOMECOMING... coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

God Bless!

-------------------

Pressured by L'Ni's persistent concerns, Nya finally agrees to a medical exam with Nik. Although Nik is surprised by the results. Because of fears to Nya's health and to learn what may be known of the connection between the Inari and Feri, Nya and L'Ni leave friends behind to visit Inar'Ahben in search of answers.

They soon discover that threats against the Starfire still lurk on the Inari homeworld. Although the Shirukan were defeated more than ten years earlier, they're still a threat to Crystal Keepers. No one is more aware than Security Chief Rajeun Leksel, but even he underestimates the determination of the remnants of the former Shirat Empire. When Nya arrives, the Shirukan see the opportunity to retake what was once theirs. They will stop at nothing to obtain a Starfire shard and complete their plans for domination.

Nya must overcome her worst nightmares against an enemy who understands the power of the Starfire too well.

---------------

(Note: I'm still tweaking the description, so it could change by the time the book is published.)

Monday, June 3, 2024

Final scene

I've pretty much finished the first draft of Book 19 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds but might add a small final scene with this book's secondary characters just for fun. I have to see how the read-through goes. Right now, the book is just under 49K words, so the full first draft should be 50-51K words, a bit more than expected.

I looked back at when I published Book 16 and noticed that it's only been 2 1/2 months. It felt like it was longer since I published the last book. Boy, is my sense of time off!

I struggled a lot with this book and am glad that I fixed things along the way. It turned out very good! I posted about some of those struggles since the early stage of writing this, without getting into spoilers. One of the biggest issues was working out why technology wouldn't work on a world without using some artificial neutralizing force. I think I managed a plausible explanation, although it's still a bit of science fiction hand-wavium.

But I have a world where the civilization can't advance technologically and stayed at a medieval setting. It's interesting. And the word Feri can be manipulated in different ways. It's mentioned in Book 17, so you'll get a hint of what's to come in Book 19, but given how the species is described, it's probably obvious.

Anyway. Once I get through this read-through and write that little scene, I'll be off and running on editing Book 17.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Almost done

Book 19 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is nearly done. It's currently at just under 45K words and has a few short scenes to finish. At this point, I can be quite certain that it will not go over 50K words.

However, this is only the first draft. I might expand some things in rewrites. There are a lot of little plot pieces that more fully developed in the second half that may need more setup in the first few chapters. I'll give it a read-through after finishing and make some notes.

If all goes well, I should finish the first draft by this upcoming weekend.

I'm looking forward to getting back to HOMECOMING and getting that published.

Thank for reading!

Friday, May 24, 2024

quick writing update

I'm at 42K words on Book 19 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series and am at the quiet before the storm point of the story or the eye of the storm, whatever metaphor you want to use. I hope to be done by 50K, but will write until the story is done to my satisfaction. I'm already at the word count that I aim to hit with these, but I have that last stretch to finish. (I figured out what was causing my fatigue and overcame that; and the writing took off.) In other words, it's going a little longer than I expected. This story is definitely different than I expected in other ways, which is always a pleasant surprise.

I'm a plotter/pantser combo writer, especially since much of this series was planned before I filled in details and brought in some surprises for myself. I let the series plot develop in different (but better) ways than I had first imagined, which changes the outcome of those initial ideas. The ideas are still good, but the details change to fit the development of the series.

Once I finish this, I'll edit Book 17 for publishing. Should be ready by early July, if not sooner. If Book 19 hadn't grown as long as it is, I'd confirm June for book 17. It could still happen. We'll see how fast the climax and denouement get written in this first draft of 19. I still have a week to go to the end of May.

https://vimeo.com/931598269?share=copy

Forgotten Worlds Book Series (1-16 available now) from Melanie Nilles on Vimeo.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Writing update - Forgotten Worlds Book 19 status

Getting back to what I've been doing...

The garden is in for the summer.

And Book 19, ALL THE KING'S MEN, has passed 37K words. I've been dealing with some fatigue lately but still writing at those times of day when I'm focused. This book continues to develop in ways I hadn't foreseen. My original outline was based on an idea that had to change after the series evolved from the point where I originally conceived the idea a year or two (several books) before I started writing it. And it also was the type of idea that hadn't taken into consideration certain logic. It was a fun idea, but it really needed more meat to it.

It's getting that meat filled in as I discover the full potential of this plot. I'm always amazed at how a single sentence can completely flip a story (and will inspire me to even more depth based on that single small statement full of massive ideas). That's happened a few times in this WIP. It's part of the writing process.

I can't say much more than I have in a few posts now, but like all these stories, it is a fun ride of discovery. It's even more interesting when I can change up the genre a bit to give it a new twist or crossover, like this with its fantasy setting. It keeps me challenged, and that keeps me interested in what comes next, as I hope it does for the readers.

This series remains what I consider a classic space opera that all ages can enjoy. I hope you're having as much fun reading as I am writing. I continue to work to keep each story interesting and fresh but within the expectations of the SFF genre and adding to the series plot.

After I finish this first draft, I'll get HOMECOMING ready and published. Book 17 has a huge revelation for the characters, although hints have been sprinkled into it since early in the series. Stick around for what's to come!

Thanks for reading!


Forgotten Worlds Book Series (1-16 available now) from Melanie Nilles on Vimeo.

Friday, May 17, 2024

The saints are alive in heaven and bring our prayers before God

I have a couple of events to share that show that the saints are alive in heaven and helping us.

God the Father is the creator of everything. We might think of ourselves as renters. Everything is His, and I offer all that I am back to him, which is why I have taken down some of my books and edited others. I don't want to offend the Lord but to honor Him. (I strongly encourage writers to exclude sex scenes and incitement of lust in readers in any form as well as any expressions using the Lord's name in vain. You are leading others to sin, which is a sin for you that you have to account for in your judgment.)

Sometimes we need help in this life, and like a good landlord, God comes to our aid when we need it, more so when we honor Him and don't put the things of this world above Him. We can go directly to God, but think of the saints like the property office staff who intercede for the renter to the owner of the property--they work more closely with the owner everyday than the renters do. In that, we can ask favors of those in heaven with Him. Those in heaven are referred to as the saints (whether the deceased who have attained heaven or the angels already in heaven). They are the pure, holy* souls who have attained the blessings of the beatific vision. They love us for God's sake and want to help us. It's part of their purpose, part of the way they continue to express their love of God and honor Him.

They are alive in heaven and hear our prayers. According to exorcists, they only hear when God allows it, such as when we address them directly, including the angels. By loving the saints and letting them help us, we are loving God, just as by loving others on this world, we are loving God. The saints are closer to God. We only worship God, but asking the saints for intercession, for the help we sometimes need when we can't do something ourselves or when temptations overwhelm us, is honoring God by acknowledging those He has deemed worthy to join Him in heaven.

That's a bit of an explanation of why we pray to (ask) the saints for help. They are our heavenly customer service, so to speak.

And now for a couple of new stories of saintly intercession, although one is not yet canonized.

The first story is of a request to Blessed Carlo Acutis.

I had trouble with one of the computers I use at work--a program not working--and I had tried EVERYTHING (I know quite a bit about computers--had been the technical person for a couple of small offices and hubby is a programmer). I was so frustrated and needed to use this particular program to update our online training. I had one last option and remembered Carlo Acutis (if his family sees this, thank you). On Monday, I said a little prayer and asked this young man of our modern world for his intercession... The program worked perfectly afterwards! I made the changes I needed to make and uploaded the updates. (Carlo Acutis was a kid who liked computer programming.)

Better than that, one of the backup drives that had been giving me trouble also started working perfectly. I hadn't even asked that in my simple little prayer request. I had almost given up on it and hardly used it because it would take sooo looong to run, but I plugged it in today for an end-of-week backup. I was shocked at how fast the login for the encrypted backup drive came up and it backed up like it hadn't done since it was new.

Thank you, Blessed Carlo Acutis!

Buddy after our ride before untacking and having
his hooves trimmed. The new Wintec 500 saddles
are great saddles at a fair price; it fits us both perfectly.
And while trimming my horse's hooves yesterday, he got a bit fidgety and I asked St. Francis to keep him occupied so I could hurry up and finish (a storm was coming in). St. Francis of Assisi is the patron of animals (among other causes) and even had a horse. My Buddy boy stood still for me after that, and I finished with a little time to spare.

(We had an excellent ride yesterday prior to my trimming his hooves, but I had a little prayer to St. Francis in my heart before getting in the saddle--calming supplements don't always work on Buddy. Much of the time, he stands better for hoof trimming before I ride, although it's generally a better idea to exercise a horse before trimming so they're tired and stand better. Not Buddy. It worked out well yesterday, though.)

Throughout my life, I've prayed to St. Anthony for lost items and have had some true miracles from his intercession, but haven't needed him for a little while. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is another saint who has come to my aid. Of course, I always honor St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother; Mary goes without saying--the most powerful saint in heaven and greater than all other saints combined, according to demons.

Those alive in heaven are always there to help us before God. Never hesitate to ask for intercession. If they don't lead us to a solution within this world, they can lead to those miracles we need, through their petitions to God on our behalf.

God bless you and keep you!

______________

* Sanctus, the origin of the word saint, is Latin for holy.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Spring is in full swing!

Spring is finally here to stay... although the weather can surprise us in ND.

After calling 811 for utility locating, we used the
flags to mark the lilacs for mowing.
We've planted some fruit trees and a row of lilacs after finally remembering the deadline for the soil conservation district and ordering them a few months ago. One doesn't think of planting in the arctic weather of January, but that's when orders have to be made to have trees for May pick-up. 

And we had a nice wet couple of weeks here. Everything is green!

The rhubarb and strawberries woke up before the last of the freezing nights were done. This morning I counted over half a dozen blossoms on my growing strawberry patch already and pulled one blossom stalk off the rhubarb (after ripping out one of the three plants to make more room for the strawberry patch to expand and because I get way more rhubarb than I need from the other two plants). And the raspberries are all leafed out now too, so blossoms should be starting on those soon.

Grapes are budding out--both survived the winter. Woohoo! πŸ₯³  However, it appears that the vines have to be a certain thickness to survive and wake up. The smaller plant is only budding at the base, although there might be a small bud further up. The bigger plant (two years old) has clear buds about three feet up on the main vine, and that's the plant that gave us a few small grapes last year already. I'll prune dead vines and lesser vines after I see a few main trunks. I just added fertilizer to those today for the year.

This morning was pretty calm for wind, so we burned the debris in our garden from last year. Most of it burned but some was too wet, so we tossed that into the compost bin after it cooled and then soaked it down again because compost needs to be kept wet. Other years it's been too dry to burn so hubby mowed the cornstalks to chop them up instead. We didn't plant as much corn last year because no one else is really eating it. This year we're skipping corn entirely.

Hubby is tilling the garden today. We'll let that settle probably until next week and plan the layout before then. The perennials have their own section now, so that doesn't change. Hubby will have his section for his peppers (bells, seranos, and jalapeΓ±os), which are being hardened before transplanting, along with two tomato plants. He likes making his own salsa, so he's planned that out. I just need my winter onions to grow big enough to share. I love cooking with onions, so I go through a lot. 

Also, without corn taking up room in the garden, I'm planning on putting in four rows of peas instead of two. Legumes are a great rotation crop, and these sweet peas are delicious, even thawed after freezing. I put away a lot last year. This year I'm sure I'll get sick of them but will have more to share with family and friends. Other than that, it'll be a couple of cucumber plants, some of which we'll turn into homemade pickles but mostly give away to family and friends. This year I also bought holy basil seeds. I love holy basil as a seasoning and the flowers are beautiful and attract insects.

And then there's the usual pumpkin patch. We gut some for seeds, then cook and puree the flesh that we want to share with family and friends and the rest get gutted for seeds and turned into decorations. We put in the pumpkins well outside the garden because one plant can take over the garden.

So, gardening season is finally here!

It's also riding season. I'm hoping to have enough good days to give Buddy more of my time.

_____________

Other than that, writing is going well. Book 19 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is over 32,500 words and will have another 10-15K words on it before it's finished. It kind of turned into a mini Game of Thrones but without the debauchery and complete lack of ethics. How can I do that? Trust me, I can create a power play without sex, gore, and killing a bunch of characters. If you focus on an actual story instead of sensationalism, there's plenty you can do, especially when you still have the science fiction side of the series to consider. And there are dragons; not fire-breathing, but a type of dragon that is more plausible to the world. I hope to finish ALL THE KING'S MEN by June 1. Then I'll edit HOMECOMING and get that out... hopefully by the end of June.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!

Monday, May 6, 2024

what are the chances?

Sometimes you make something up in your fictional worldbuilding that ends up having real-world implications.

Back when I first wrote A New Beginning (published in April 2019), I made up a game that involves play pieces on a board of moves and countermoves, a game of intrigue enjoyed by one of the characters. The name I gave it was Trellix, which wasn't used until book 2, The Rule of Yonder. I pulled that out of thin air, completely made it up, and it's in my copyright submission from 2019.

On a whim recently, I typed it in the search engine to see if anyone might have been enough of a fan to mention it on the internet. Lo and behold, a cybersecurity company formed in 2022 took the name Trellix and are award-winning in their industry.

I had it first, as a game of intrigue in my space opera setting and continue to reference it in Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. I swear I had never heard of it before and thought there's no way anyone else would come up with that.

The game in my series is one of tricking other players with moves that takes their pieces off the board (a bit reminiscent of chess and Chinese checkers with some other unique rules). It's a fictional game that requires a lot of skill.

A cybersecurity company needs to have a lot of skill to anticipate moves and countermoves by cybercriminals to take out those criminals and their activities. It's a perfect name to match the game I made up. Makes me wonder if the person who decided on that business name had read my book and liked the idea behind it. πŸ€”

I think it's a suitable link between the two uses, considering I made up the word and just thought it sounded good for my fictional game. I'm flattered that someone would like it that much.

Monday, April 29, 2024

writing update ... always something

Although I like sharing truths, I'm still writing fiction. I've been working on Book 19, which had hit a snag after a flying start.

I went too fast and didn't give it a chance to simmer enough. In that, I hit a wall at a certain point and had to go back and rewrite a lot, but I also had to realize that with this being a bit of a high fantasy-ish space opera episode, I have a lot more to consider. It's an interesting crossover, especially since it uses the science of my Starfire-verse rather than magic.

I did work through the issues I had and am now looking at the plot twists that have developed. I really need to plan these out more than outlines to keep the entire series on track for the basics. I outline to various levels, depending on the book. In this, I thought I had a good plan, but it turned out that I hadn't considered certain factors enough and the plot was... dull. I had to spice that up a bit. I've relied so much on action that I had to turn to other factors in the medieval setting. I also had to explain that in a way that was logical for the lack of technology, and I could still modify that reason, but for now, I'm working within as much of a plausible explanation as I can. I do like that technology dies on this world. It makes the system a sort of Bermuda Triangle for the space-faring races, a perfect place to leave a Starfire shard. And in that, there was L'Ni's cybernetic implants and energy weapons to consider. 

And visiting Starfire worlds is something I haven't written much on the page, except in passing, because Nya won't have an exciting time on most Starfire worlds. Most will be pretty routine, which is why I have had a few stories where I mention that they visited a world and were on to something else. A lot of the adventure is outside the Starfire worlds or incidental to their quest. And I leave time gaps between some books to allow for the monotony of life off the page. Of course, getting into trouble often becomes a bit of an in-joke for the characters, which is clear by Book 16, as they start looking at more precautions.

So, aside from the rambling, I have written over 25K words on Book 19 and am in a good place with it. I just need to write the last 15-20K words of this story.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Angel of God, my guardian dear...


I may write about alien "angels" in Starfire Angels, but each of us is actually assigned a real guardian angel when God infuses our soul into our body in the womb. St. Padre Pio was said to see and communicate with his guardian angel, as were several other saints.

I've heard my guardian angel on a few occasions and depend on him to wake me up in the morning for morning prayers--I never need an alarm clock--before I get ready for work. I've only kind of seen my guardian angel a couple of times in my life. I've never had a clearly defined image of his face, but their wings are of pure light, not feathers, which makes perfect sense as they are spiritual beings. I wasn't shown that until recently when being shown by my angel how to properly prostrate myself in respect to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. (I saw him as if he was next to me, which is why I never saw his face, but the white robe and brilliant wings of pure light were amazingly clear!)

Anyway, here's something else to ponder about our guardian angels, from The Mystical City of God, Volume IV, by Ven. Sr. Mary of Jesus of Agreda (Spain), written in the 1600's:
At the moment in which a human being is conceived, the Lord commands the angels to stand guard over it and its mother. Afterwards, at the right time, He assigns a particular angel as its guardian, as I said in the first part of this history (Part I, 114). From the very beginning the angels enter into violent combat with the demons for the protection of the souls committed to their care. The demons contend that they have jurisdiction over the creature, because it is conceived in sin, a child of malediction, unworthy of grace and divine favor, and a slave of hell. The angel refutes them by maintaining that it was conceived according to the laws of nature, over which hell has no power; that, if it is conceived in sin, it was due to its human nature, by default of the first parents and not of its own free will; and that, even if conceived in sin, God has created it to know, praise and serve Him, and, by virtue of his Passion, to merit eternal glory; and that these high ends are not to be frustrated by the mere will of the demons. (par. 283)

If they are legitimate children, the angels allege, that the parents have received the Sacraments and blessings of the Church; likewise, that they have some virtues, such as having given alms, being kind, having practised some devotions or good works. The holy angels avail themselves of these things as powerful arms to ward off the devils and defend their charges. Over illegitimate children the combat waxes more difficult; the enemy exercises a greater right, because in the begetting of such children, wherein God has been so grievously offended, the enemies obtain a greater right and the parents justly deserve rigorous chastisement. Hence, in defending and preserving illegitimate children, God manifests his most liberal mercy in a special manner. The angels base their arguments against the demon on this mercy, and that, after all, the children are the results of natural causes, as I have said above. If the parents have no merits of their own, neither any virtues, but are sullied by sins and vices, then the holy angels refer to the merits found in the forefathers of the child, in its brothers or relations; to the prayers of its friends and acquaintances, and that it is no fault of the child if the parents are sinners or have committed excess in its generation. They also contend, that those children, if they live, may reach a high degree of virtue and holiness, and that the demon has no right to hinder them from arriving at the knowledge and love of their Creator. (par. 284) 

There's much more, but this chapter was an incredible revelation of what goes on in the spiritual realm and all that our guardian angels do for our souls.

As for the opening line of the prayer as the subject of this post...

Angel of God, 
my guardian dear,
to whom God's love 
commits me here,
ever this day 
be at my side
to light and guard, 
to rule and guide.
Amen

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Horse time

Spring is here, or at least trying to be here. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and I spent it with my Buddy. I found out later that the world seemed to be falling apart while I was offline, but I can't do anything about it, so I'll go on living my life and enjoying the blessings God gave me.

I gave Buddy the winter off this year. I'd go out to check on him and give him treats and supplements regularly, but mostly let him be a pasture pet. He has good care where he's boarded--good hay and water and a big pasture with other geldings. I don't have to worry. I did get a call once that he had gotten out into a different pen somehow a couple of months ago, but he wasn't injured. Buddy is a pretty durable little guy (if 15 hands can be considered "little" when it's pretty average). He's built like a draft horse but without the feathers (thick fetlock hair) common to draft breeds.

The temps hit 80 F yesterday (but winter tries to come back this week)! I had to take advantage of it. The breeze wasn't an issue at that temp and in fact made the conditions perfect. I thought the barn would be packed, but that wasn't the case. It was like any summer day, a few people spending time with their horses. So, not crowded and somewhat quiet.

I figured it was time to get back on Buddy and get our first ride in after 6-7 months off. He's always been one that I could give him time off (winter) and get right back on where we left off. The only issue is his attitude on any given day, and that's not just time off. It's a Buddy issue. I'm learning that it's much worse when he has a heavy parasite load and now know that his extraordinary spookiness is one of the first signs, aside from the runny poops that come at a later point if I don't deworm him sufficiently.

This time getting back to riding was no different than any other year. He's eleven years old now and we've been together for eight and a half, so we know each other pretty well. He's my God-given life-saver. I bought him when my life was at a bad point with my health issues getting me down. He's a special case horse in personality that I knew would be ruined by most people and he's not registered and not very athletic, which means he'd have no future as a show horse. It was that sense of responsibility to make sure he didn't end up with someone who wouldn't understand his personality or ruin him that kept me hanging on when I hit a low point. That he would have eventually ended up at a kill pen was my fear. He's difficult to deal with because of his normal quirkiness. He's not a dead-head, no matter what desensitization I do with him.

Anyway, that's my Buddy. He's always been a bit unusual, but I've had sensitive horses before, so I can deal with that. Most people can't.

He enjoyed the winter off and wasn't anxious to get back to work. He saw me bring out the saddle, and I swear if he could have rolled his eyes, he would have. The look on his face and in his body said it all--"Not that again." Fat boy needs exercise. He wasn't as fat as I'd feared, however. I could easily get our normal girth on him.

I had given him some calming supplement before I tacked up, along with Platinum's Bio-Sponge in a small amount of beet pulp, since he doesn't like the Bio-Sponge much. It's helped him. I've been giving that to him throughout this past winter every time I'm out. But I wanted to see where his mind was and, after tacking up, gave him some round pen time. He didn't do anything stupid, not even when the stirrups came loose and flapped against his sides. He was looking outside a lot, although with an ear on me, so he was paying attention. He remembered how to round pen and didn't whinny for anyone; that silence is always a good sign. After the manager told me he'd worked up the big arena, we went up there to ride. I led Buddy around it once as a precaution and he seemed calm, so I mounted.

At my age, I take precautions when I'm not sure what his mind is like, especially after so much time off. The warm weather while he still has a winter coat, the calming supplement, and my prep may not have been necessary, but I'm getting too old to take things for granted and know him too well. He was the quietest he's ever been, but he showed signs of his gut being healthy too (always watch the poops). Even when we stopped in the past, he would rarely stand still. Yesterday, we'd stop and he wouldn't move a hoof. We rode and his head was long and low, not a bit of discomfort or tension or worrying about his herd or much else around him. It was a great first ride. He did everything that we've always done, although was a bit stiff in his lateral work and back to his old crookedness, so I had to keep correcting his balance.

It didn't take much for him to sweat through his saddle pad, and we rode pretty lightly, partly because he already had a touch of sweat before I even tacked up. I had counted on that working to my advantage keeping him from wanting to move too much.

Afterwards, I tried to get some pics, but he wouldn't cooperate very well for a selfie--kept looking off at another horse. And I didn't realize until I was home that I had posed him on a hill with his rump higher with his tack on, so I scrapped a full pic in his tack and I'm sharing a pic after I untacked him.

I also gave him a haircut before we rode. His mane was getting long and that gets in the way while riding. I don't like long manes, so I gave him his usual trim. He always looks better trimmed up.

After the ride

We're back in the saddle, and I'm hoping the rest of the summer goes as well as this first ride. Last year was awful. He was flighty stupid and had runny manure, and I didn't know why. Then someone told me they had their horse scoped and discovered how bad the bots were. The dewormer her vet recommended did the trick for Buddy--Quest Plus--and he settled down and his manure returned to normal. I hope bots aren't as bad this year, but at least now I'll know to keep an eye out for the signs in him.

The upcoming week is going to be terrible weather again, so I don't know when we'll get to ride next, but at least we're at the tail end of winter. I look forward to more saddle time with my Buddy again. 🐴

Friday, April 12, 2024

Book 19 cover reveal

I've had to take a break from writing the last week. Something had to be done about the cover before I could go on.

Every cover in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series has something from the main location or an event of that book. I use stock images, some with a lot of Photoshopping, like this Book 19 cover (two pictures, actually). I do this for several reasons but mostly I hate the search for an artist whose style would fit the book. I would only include characters if I could find a single artist to design all the books, but with a series stretched out over several years like this, it would be a risk. Getting on their schedules, working with them to get things just right, and hoping I don't lose them and have to start the search over again is more than I care to deal with. I don't have the time and energy to go through all that, and it is a LOT of work. So, I decided at the beginning that I would keep the covers generic/stock and add some touches where I thought it was necessary.

Doing this also means the characters are left to your imaginations and not ruined by an artist or my impressions. I did create the AI characters for fun, but if you don't want to see them, you have to go searching. They aren't always in your face on a cover. You can avoid having your imagination ruined if you want.

Book 19 is something different. I've mentioned how it's high fantasy in my space opera series, but without magic. I envisioned a medieval/renaissance European-ish setting. For this, I wanted something of a castle, but I couldn't find anything quite what I pictured for the castle in the story. I had to compromise on the cover art.

I found two different pictures and had to do a lot of Photoshopping. Fortunately, I have an artistic kid who advised me on colors. She approved of this after telling me what she thought would work for colors. She still doesn't like the depth of the blue sky, but she likes the other touches I added.

The two pictures (https://www.dreamstime.com/beautiful-gothic-medieval-arched-stone-window-magnificent-majestic-view-window-gorgeous-winter-mountain-landscape-alps-image203717885 and https://www.dreamstime.com/three-people-hiking-mountains-winter-landscape-deep-snow-clear-sunny-day-allgau-bavaria-germany-alps-image103810330) work pretty seamlessly together, after the color adjustments to the stonework and other touches to the two images so they didn't quite look like photographs but more like illustrations.

So, here it is, the cover of Book 19, which still leaves a lot to the imagination for the reader to complete. And, of course, I had to add the feathers.


Now that I have the cover, I can relax and finish the story without worrying whether the cover image will match what I write. It doesn't reveal any exact details that might contradict the story. I've adjusted some of the stories to match the image I had found for the covers. In this case, I created the cover to match the story. That's a big weight off my mind.

The only thing that might change is the cover blurb. It's pretty good, but I might reword it before it's final.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Quick update

I had one of those problems with Book 19 where I get to a point that I realize something is wrong. I was already around 1/3 into the expected final word count. It took only a day or two for the ideas to clarify. I had been so intent on writing the story a certain way that I just ran with that, but I was running into deeper and deeper mud and finally had to stop and turn back. 

I realized that I had gone too fast, missed the scenery, and run off the road, to continue the analogy. In other words, the story was dull and missing something.

Fortunately, what I had written still had a lot of useful material. It provided some good ideas and also showed me some weaknesses. I had 17K words and didn't lose much of that with rewriting so far. I still have some material to rewrite, but it's better already with just a few changes and rearranging some of the early scenes. It definitely has more intrigue and action. Now, it's conforming to what I want from these stories--action and good pacing, not slow.

As I said in my previous post, this one drops Nya, L'Ni, and Zaer into a medieval fantasy setting, although without magic. High fantasy space opera! I'm hoping it works for readers. I've written fantasy before, but I much prefer science fiction. And while I don't like horror, I did my Starfire version of horror in Book 12, MESSAGES, with the derelict Urishan slave ship to do something different. I like the ability to try different forms of storytelling, even mixing genres. This series gives me a lot of freedom to experiment.

That's where I am now.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Book 19 - incredible progress

I made myself wait to write this episode and was going to make it Book 20, but it couldn't wait. And now, I'm having way too much fun writing it. Book 19's working title is ALL THE KING'S MEN, and it is all because of the Feri I created for the series.

Soon after I came up with the name and look of L'Ni's people way back in writing Book 4, I knew I had the perfect alien species. Not only does the name play well with fury (FURIOUS and DRAGON AND FURY), but they look like space elves. I'm having fun with making the Inari and Feri played up a bit as fantasy creatures on a world with humans in a no-tech medieval setting (logical explanation for that amid the high-tech other worlds). I even have a creature that resembles a dragon that is native to the world on which this story takes place, and it existed before humans were transplanted there. There's no magic involved, however; it's all technology and Starfire.

This is going to be too much fun to write.

It has had it's own struggles already, but filling those plot holes was easy.

Plus, I have over 6K words already written in less than a week! (So far--that pace could change.)

I've said in the past that this series lets me write all the stories I could ever want to write but with a common setting and characters. The original Starfire Angels was science fiction with a veneer of YA paranormal. This series is space opera, but this episode has a veneer of high fantasy.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Books 1-16 available now. (Books 17 & 18 forthcoming this year)

Sunday, March 17, 2024

T-minus 0.... GHOSTS has been published

It's done! GHOSTS is published.

I'm freaking out now because I'm sure I could find more to edit, but I'll always find something to tweak. At some point, you just have to say it's done. One can only do so much before over-editing takes away from the story, in which case it loses that unique voice.

This story definitely has it's own voice. It's an exploration of Seska's past and things that have been going on behind the scenes of the Paxon front of duty, honor, discipline, and strength. We all wear masks, but some wear several, as the special agents of SecurCom are taught to do. Seska was no different, but she had a special talent.

This is her story and the story of those she made disappear.

Everyone in the Paxon hierarchy wants to know what Special Agent Levat knows, but first they must wake her from her coma. When a SecurCom agent manages to rouse her enough to access her memories, she reveals a location not in any of their assignments. Perplexed by this, they decide to investigate. Others are watching, however, ready to act to protect the secrets locked in Agent Levat's mind.

When a message is received by the Cartegos requesting Ann's presence at Aurelia Station and suggesting that Seska is alive, Zaer changes their course. Knowing the station is run by a tenuous partnership of criminal organizations that hate Ethalians, a plan is formed to keep Ann safe while meeting with those who have information about Seska… 

But nothing ever goes as planned, especially since Paxon Central Command has posted a high bounty for Ann's capture that each of the partners of Aurelia wants for themselves.

-------------------------------------------

The book was just uploaded, so it will take some time to become available for purchase. I'll be sending out my newsletter with links and adding links to my website page for this book as they become available. The announcement email should go out sometime in the next few days, if the process is as quick as in the past. 

You can request to be added to the book announcement list by completing the contact form on my website with the type of emails you'd like to receive from me. For now, I only send out new book announcements.

Next up, I think I'm going to get edits on HOMECOMING done and set that up for pre-order. I don't foresee anything in writing Book 19 that might change it, although I could surprise myself. The series is pretty well established, but I always come up with something that surprises me in each book. If that happens, I'll fix it, but if I can get ahead enough to begin using pre-orders again, I might as well do that. I'm going to start editing ahead now and see how this goes for the rest of the series. It looks like these have been going 5 months between, so I'm estimating into August for a HOMECOMING release date.

Thanks for reading!

----------------------

Edit 3/21/24: Uh, oh! I did it again. Instead of editing Book 17, I jumped into writing Book 19. The creativity slammed me broadside and I couldn't not write (what a wonderful feeling!). It's an episode idea I've had for a while and even influenced something said by a character in Book 17. It looks like I won't be editing Book 17 for a pre-order at this time. Writing is always more fun than editing, but this is like Book 8--I really, really, really, REALLY want to write it! I'm surprised I've been able to hold off this long. In fact, I already have 3,300 words written within only three days.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Blessed Virgin Mary calls all to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ

In 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe transformed the world. Because of her appearance to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill, in ten years, over TEN MILLION Aztecs converted from their blood-thirsty human-sacrifices to the one true living God of mercy and love. Our Lady's request to (Saint) Juan Diego brought about the end of a murderous cult.

She can do it again.

Join Cardinal Raymond Burke's nine-month novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe to bring the world back to Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Learn more here--https://novena.cardinalburke.com/--including downloading the novena prayer card... The 9-month novena actually started on March 12 and ends on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12.

(The website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe can be found here--https://guadalupeshrine.org/history-of-the-shrine/.)

Novena Prayer (English):

O Virgin Mother of God, we fly to your protection and beg your intercession against the darkness and sin which ever more envelop the world and menace the Church. Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, gave you to us as our mother as He died on the Cross for our salvation. So too, in 1531, when darkness and sin beset us, He sent you, as Our Lady of Guadalupe, on Tepeyac to lead us to Him Who alone is our light and our salvation.

Through your apparitions on Tepeyac and your abiding presence with us on the miraculous mantle of your messenger, Saint Juan Diego, millions of souls converted to faith in your Divine Son. Through this novena and our consecration to you, we humbly implore your intercession for our daily conversion of life to Him and the conversion of millions more who do not yet believe in Him. In our homes and in our nation, lead us to Him Who alone wins the victory over sin and darkness in us and in the world.

Unite our hearts to your Immaculate Heart so that they may find their true and lasting home in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Ever guide us along the pilgrimage of life to our eternal home with Him. So may our hearts, one with yours, always trust in God's promise of salvation, in His never-failing mercy toward all who turn to Him with a humble and contrite heart. Through this novena and our consecration to you, O Virgin of Guadalupe, lead all souls in America and throughout the world to your Divine Son in Whose name we pray.

Amen.

------------------------------------------

If you want to learn more about the apparition and Mary's miraculous transformation of the people of Mexico and the rest of the Americas (she is the patron of the Americas), here are some videos to help you understand the significance of what she did for the world:


Other good videos:




Monday, March 11, 2024

Whee!

New computer arrived. I set it up fresh instead of using the Migration Assistant (which would perpetuate some issues with fonts in Adobe Creative Cloud apps). Then, I put it to the test... The After Effects file that took 2 HOURS to render on the old MacBook Pro (Intel 2.3 MHz i9 processor and 16 GB RAM) and had it running hot took only 20 MINUTES on the new Mac Studio (M2 Max with 64 GB RAM) and that didn't even break a sweat... complete silence at 6 times the speed to render that file. Everything about working in After Effects was much better.

I think I have a winner on my hands. Now to start organizing those character-centric promos I had in mind. 😁

But first, back to edits. I believe this is the last round. So far, nothing major has come up this fourth and, I expect, final round on GHOSTS (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 16).

Very soon, I'll have it done and ready to publish!

Coming Soon!

Thursday, March 7, 2024

a story of the horrors of hell

I'm working, I swear, but I keep coming across great videos like this that distract me. The latest round of edits on Book 16 are making great progress, and I expect to finish edits by the end of next week. I had a few more changes I hadn't expected that will require one final copyedit pass.

I can't ignore this but must spread the warning. The warning in this video is chilling. 😱

The only way to avoid hell is in the sacraments of the Catholic Church and eliminating ALL sin (and sin includes writing sex scenes in books or titillation for readers). Lust, envy, gluttony (not just food but lots of needless stuff), greed, wrath, sloth, pride, and every insult to God and his commandments, including cursing others, vulgarities, etc. These and more are offenses against God. Only true contrition and penance through the sacrament of reconciliation in the confessional will repair our relationship with God.

For my writer friends who think God is allowing them to write stories with sex scenes and titillating scenes, glorified violence, etc. that isn't from God but from Satan. He's leading you to sin and using you to lead others to sin. And for that one friend, sex in books between married couples is still sin, because the reader is fantasizing the characters, not their own spouse. Reading a sex scene between fictional characters is no different than peeking in on your neighbors having sex in their bedroom. That is adultery in the mind, a sin of lust. I beg you reconsider the damnation of your soul.

Think of God as discipline and logic, not exciting your feelings; yes, he is joy and love and can even be angry at us (see all the examples in the Old Testament), but he doesn't manipulate our feelings. Rather, unless we truly seek God with all our heart and seek to please Him, there is a veil that blocks us from being close to Him--it's called free will (He will never force himself on us). Satan and his demons feed on feelings and manipulate your feelings, but they can even mislead you with a false light. Learn the sins to avoid and don't listen to feelings. As Fr. Chad Ripperger says, virtue is painful until you reach a certain point of pursuing it. I can attest to this, and God will test you at each level of virtue, stepping back to see how fully you will pursue him. Your writing may suffer to avoid lust/adultery of your readers, but it will save your soul. Isn't your soul worth more than money from leading readers to sin?

Monday, March 4, 2024

The Bible is real history

For many years, I worked for someone who would disparage the Bible and my Christian faith, an avowed atheist. I suspect a part of him knew it was true, but he was mislead by mainstream media (which is anti-Christian (or what could be referred to as coming from Satan)). He was a liberal removed from the faith of his birth by the lies of MSM.

I had no argument then for him, but in the years since his retirement, I've been finding incredible proofs that events in the Bible are REAL HISTORY, although I never had any doubts. I just didn't have anything to support the argument then. I've added those as a section in my Faith Resources tab. (Scroll down to the section Proof that the Bible is real history.)

What he doesn't know is that every time I'd pray for him, the next day he would say something derogatory about faith, religion, and/or the Bible; it wasn't every day, just after I had prayed for him. The real proof to me is that I had never told him I prayed for him... NEVER (unless he reads this post--then he'll know--but he never knew at that time). I could set my watch by it and I knew what was happening. Anyone with any spiritual intelligence will know what that means. The demons knew my efforts to convert him and protect him from eternal damnation in their domain, and they worked overtime to keep him where they want him--believing it's all a lie.

It's because of this person and the lies of Protestantism spouted by a friend led away from the Catholic faith that I've become fascinated with everything I can find about the truth, which has led me closer to God. I thank them for their challenges. Those were what Fr. Ripperger would call signal graces; in these cases, they were graces that I needed to push me to studying my faith, bringing me closer to God, which is where we're meant to be.

If you have any doubt about God being real or think your denomination is superior to the original church founded by Christ on his apostles, I've collected a long list of articles, videos, websites, and channels sorted under the Faith Resources tab. It will take some time, but at least you can start there. I've put in a lot of time and effort to cultivate this list from all that I've watched or read, and I continue to add to it, but there is far more on the internet than one person can consume in a lifetime.

Happy studying!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

exciting stuff planned... a few updates

I'm still working on edits for Book 16. I hope to be in the last big round of edits. It's pretty good overall, but needs just a bit more refinement.

The delay is due to a variety of issues. One of them is my age. I'm in that stage of crushing fatigue during the day and sleep disruptions at night. Mornings are good to a point, but without black tea, I'm doomed by noon. Not even a Dr. Pepper can save me, and coffee is way too strong for my tolerance (and disgusting to my tastes). This is part of the sleep disruption-daytime nap cycle I'm in. And forget supplements. Sure, they help my focus and attention, but they contribute to the sleep disruption. Once in a while nothing bothers me, but I can't count on that.

Add that to just having closed out the busiest time of year at work. I'm finally recovering a few days later. Surprisingly, my head is clear for editing. It's just the fatigue/sleep issue. It could be my thyroid, but it's most likely my stage in life, from the research I've done.

I'll find a way to make it work until hormones straighten out.

Another distraction would be book trailers. I want to create more of those, but they take away from writing/editing, so I'll have to balance that. Fortunately, up to this point, my MacBook Pro wasn't powerful enough to do too much of that. After Effects is a resource hog.

But that will be changing. I'm upgrading to a Mac Studio! 😍 

I did some research on what the best configuration would be for what I plan to do and did some budgeting. I have the keyboard and mouse purchased (didn't need that with a laptop). I ordered the monitor (the Samsung ViewFinity UHD monitor on sale from Best Buy currently for $229 was a fraction of the cost of an Apple monitor ($1599)) and ordered Mac Studio with the M2 Max chip (custom configured direct from Apple). I also found a case on Amazon to store the computer, mouse, and keyboard when I'm not using them. I don't have a desk, so I will need to put that away every day; the case will help. Fortunately, I have my iPad Mini for portability.

I'm looking forward one day to trying out the Unreal Engine and maybe creating some animated stories, but that would take an enormous amount of time from writing. I'll find the balance somehow. It sure would be fun to get into scripting my books into animated stories, though! Maybe when I'm finished with the Forgotten Worlds series, I'll dig into animated stories more fully, but that would be at least a couple of years in the future.

The main reason for now to upgrade is book trailers. The MacBook is a 15" with 2.3 MHz Intel Core i9 and only 16 GB RAM and 500 GB hard drive space. I wasn't planning on creating book trailers when I bought it. And when I bought it, my previous MacBook Pro stopped charging on me and I had to make an emergency purchase from what was available locally. (I was working from home at the start of Covid, so it was a true emergency.) After creating a couple of trailers using Ae templates (see below), I found I really like the visual medium. However, I'm running out of hard drive space, and the RAM and processor can't handle After Effects. Premiere Pro isn't a problem, but Ae has the best features, so it's time to upgrade (and Apple financing at 0% for 12 months is too convenient).

It's an investment that will give me the power to create in new ways.

(The 1 minute trailer below took 2 hours to render on my MacBook Pro, and it was running hot!)


Saturday, March 2, 2024

Modesty in Speech

Fr. Chad Ripperger has some great lectures, including some that are not focused entirely on religious matters. This is one that we can all apply to our lives.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

updates - books, indoor garden, and cats

I don't have much of a writing update today. I'm still working on edits of Book 16. It's going more slowly than I hoped, which is why I've at least temporarily deactivated my X account (and maybe permanently). So, I thought I'd add something different about what's been happening lately.

First, I've just uploaded a revision of A NEW BEGINNING. It now includes a note about the [ ] and { } indicators of alien languages. That was the only update to the file. I wanted to make sure new readers understand. Most SFF readers should have some familiarity with using such devices for dialogue translations of fictional other languages, if they've read anything from around the 80's. I saw this in books growing up, which is what gave me the idea to use those to encapsulate translations of fictional languages being spoken by characters where I want the reader to understand it.

Second, I have updated the series description on Amazon. I've tweaked it a couple of times now. It had defaulted to the description of the first book and I left that for a long time. Now, I've given it a brief overview of the series, as well as a note about... Well, why not just let you read it. Here's what it now says:

The truth behind the warrior disciples of an ancient religion is no myth. To stop the ancient evil from being released to destroy the universe, a group of strangers joins together to find the scattered Starfire shards, the only weapon known to defeat the creature. 
Take off with Nya and the strangers who will become her friends on a quest across a galaxy of forgotten worlds where the Starfire shards have been hidden for such a time as this. In the course of their adventures, they will discover secrets that her ancestors left behind and revelations that could shatter the lives of many. 
These books are short novels intended to be read in order. Each book is a complete story but leads into the next. Like chapters in an individual book, each book of this series is a "chapter" in the larger series arc of 25 books.

Note: Although there is some romance in the series, there are no sex scenes. Also, no foul language is used.

I wanted those looking for hard science fiction to realize that this probably isn't what they want. It isn't a porno/swearing fest like so much fiction is these days. It's also not all shoot 'em up war/fighting, and it's not full of broken characters. Sure, each character has their traumas, but they don't dwell on them all the time. I like likable characters and action that's balanced between drama and fighting (or pew pew! as some call it πŸ™ƒ).

idoo hydroponic garden,
available from Amazon
The series was always written with the intent of going back to the 80's and 90's style SF series, when entertainment didn't punch one in the face with an agenda or sex but, rather, focused on telling stories and the sex was fade-to-black or mentioned in passing so that you knew it was there but not front and center. I've learned there's a name coined for stories without an agenda other than telling a good yarn--ironage. It's not because it's medieval or anything but because of the ironage of storytelling, before the woke agenda ruined entertainment by focusing on pushing a narrative instead of focusing on telling a good story.

(Also, in this description, I'm hinting the title of the final book in the series, Book 25 - FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. I already know that works for what I have outlined. πŸ˜‰)

Third, I've had to do some pulling of old lettuce and reseeding in my indoor hydroponics garden. I started the lettuce but haven't had an interest in eating many salads, although it is nice to have our own lettuce instead of store-bought with who knows how many chemicals sprayed on it.

I pulled up two of my larger plants that were looking pretty shredded and not fitting under the light anymore and have new sprouts growing. I'll pull up those last two large plants once the new sprouts take off with enough leaves to start using for salads.

The picture is blurry because it was before the sun rose
and zoomed in from a ways back from the glass deck door
so as not to frighten her. She's pretty skittish.
Fourth, we feed feral cats that come around. Last winter, we had Lenny, but he disappeared come summer. We like to keep outdoor cats around as hunters to keep the mice, gophers, and volls under control. Hubby had made a suitable shelter out of a Rubbermaid container, but I think the latest feral, Remy, felt entrapped in it, so I bought this off Etsy for her. It may not be as cozy warm, but she can eat while sheltered on windy, snowy, or rainy days. While she was reluctant to use hubby's shelter, she was in this within two days of us putting it out for her.

It's a small shelter and the roof is hinged like a lid. If you're interested, here's the link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/226068063/all-season-ark-workshop-medium-outdoor?ref=yr_purchases

Fifth, pay attention to your health. My eyes were giving me problems lately and I hadn't thought to connect it to headaches and tiredness. I made an appointment and, just over a year since my last pair of glasses, ended up needing new glasses again. My eyes are healthy, although the psoriasis around them causes minor issues (easily kept under control with Aquaphor); but my vision has changed dramatically. I wear bifocals, and my old close-up prescription is better for distances now. That's how much my vision has changed. I can't wait to get the new glasses, but that's going to be a big adjustment!

Last, Wednesday, February 14th (Valentine's Day), is Ash Wednesday. For those who honor Our Lord during this season with extra mortification, I pray you achieve the change this season is intended to inspire. I've also been adding to my faith resources page and hope you can find some support there for your faith journey. God bless!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Why discipline in life is important

Fr. Ripperger always has good lectures, and you don't have to be Catholic to appreciate many of them. This is one that applies to everyone. He offers great insights into bettering your life.

What is Laziness, Sloth, & Workaholicism & Their Dangers ~ Fr. Ripperger