Podcast 5: Prologue of “Foes & Rivals”

Congratulations: between DayJob and the hundred things I need to get ready to retrieve Daughter #1 from her internship in southern Utah, I’m only able to throw this at the wall and hope it sticks. Nichole 5’s first audiobook is commercially available and I am slogging my way through the raws of the second. This is the opening of that one, Foes & Rivals. As is my wont, I tell you what happens up front. You’ll just have to enjoy the ride once the rollercoaster starts.

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Podcast 3: The Machines – everyone else

My shortest installment to date as I didn’t want to wander into the weeds again over what I know about the other two tribes, the androids, and synths. Details such as that, I believe, will be dealt with when I turn my attention to talking about the books and stories themselves.

Even so, I cover a lot of ground in little time. Next week will see us turn to the human sides of Machine Civilization, specifically the human families of the Barretts and the Hartmanns. See everyone then!

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“The end of the world as we know it”

The southeast of the US not getting the gas/petrol they need. One of the Interstate bridges over the Mississippi River is fractured and closed… possibly closing shipping traffic on that river… impacting 20% of shipping traffic on one of the most important rivers of the world. Inflation is taking off like a successful SpaceX rocket.

It’s not as if I’ve given this any thought…

Here, for your edification, is the complete Prologue of “Friend and Ally,” where a couple of Somi Corporation engineers try to figure out just what in the world is going on in the US. If you like this, you’ll like the rest of the audiobook, too.

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Breaking Bad

My voice finally seemed able to start recording again. I spent time last evening reviewing the opening chapters of “Foes and Rivals,” realizing I need to create voice for old Mrs. Brunelli, John’s mother and now Nichole 5’s friend. An old woman. Yeah, sure… I’ve got that ready right here…

That, coupled with today’s wonderful spring weather, had me behave badly and go out onto my deck with the laptop rather than down into the basement. My personal fail. To my credit, I guess, is that while I’m not supposed to be writing anything in this time of audiobooks, I put down 3500 words in the last six hours. And, I had so much fun doing it! There’s more of Prince Edward and Livia below the fold. Later, there is a confrontation largely between Empress Faustina and Prime Minister Reina (of Russia), with Ed playing a bit part as something of a sacrifice. That surprised me!

Forming on another chapter, Edward and his little group makes their way to Galveston and Captain Rupert/Princess Ryland. I’ve just seen their meeting. I had thought her divorced. I was wrong. I… I think it explains a little about Liv, in retrospect. Speaking of whom…

Continue reading “Breaking Bad”

“Friend and Ally”: audio raws complete

Twenty chapters plus prologue and epilogue… that’s about 650 minutes. At least when I’m editing all that I don’t have to be in my Fortress of Quietude in the 45F basement. Step one will be removing my screw-ups; those are the spikes on the image below the fold, from a typical file. When I flubbed something, I would cough or yell “pop!” into the mic to give me a visual cue of where I need to fix something. Still, I’ll have to listen to everything in its entirety to make sure.

Once that is complete, then I can turn to the technical bits of Noise Removal, Normalization, Equalization, and so on. My target for commercial release is Easter, so I’ve less than forty days to go. The steepest learning curve will be getting things into a format that will satisfy ACX… I recall problems when I experimented last July. So long as my liver holds out, I’ll make it.

Continue reading ““Friend and Ally”: audio raws complete”

Audiobook waypoint

Having begun recording on January 24th, just today, February 4th, I have completed the raws for Part One of Friend & Ally. That’s about 230 minutes of me yammering into my microphone and pausing Audacity whenever the dogs start barking or someone flushes the toilet upstairs.

Part Two will be much rougher on my voice as one of the tertiary characters is General Tessmer. His voice is based upon that of Admiral Halsey’s from the movie Midway (2019). That should have me mute for most of the rest of this month and into March. How will I manage Part Three?

Writing. It’s a mental illness.

The group blog of Liberty’s Torch is well worth your time and well worth your follow. I think I may have wandered in there via Gab but I drink much and recall little. Anyway. The lead blogger there, Francis W. Porretto, had a post today about writing. Many of my heart-cockles were warmed by it. Rather than hijack his comment section, I hope to take excerpts of his essay, Post Partum, and add my observations.

“It’s a difficult period in any novelist’s life: he can’t go forward while his thoughts are wrapped around the book he just finished, and he can’t go backward with the revisions he’s already thought of until the others involved have registered their various contributions.”

That only briefly happened to me once, at the conclusion of “Echoes of Family Lost.” It was a follow-on to “The Fourth Law” and once complete I had no idea what to do next. Was I a writer? Did I have more stories to tell? Five years ago, I carved out a space here on WordPress and started throwing 800-1500 word-salad at the screen. Some stuck. I kept going. By the time I got a cover design for EoFL, I had met Chris and Kat, from “Cursed Hearts.” A romance/horror? WTF? I hate both of those! I shut up and wrote what they told me to.

“The first requirement of any storyteller is a mating between characters and crises: people upon whom to impose problems they must solve, or at least cope with. I developed a bunch of attractive character sketches almost by accident – I still wonder from time to time where those fictional figures really came from – and immediately found ways to cast them into conflict with one another.”

I take exception to almost every word in this. The first requirement of a storyteller is to tell stories. It is the height of arrogance to think you really know what the characters’ problems really are. As to where these people come from? Well, if you’ve read along these few years, you know how I have addressed that. Further, I’ve never made a single ‘character sketch;’ they walk onto the stage/screen and act. I just write what they show me.

“But characters don’t struggle with their problems and one another in some sort of white space separate from all else; at least, mine don’t. They need a place to be. I had to pick a place, or conceive of one, that would provide a suitable stage on which to act out their destinies.”

My parents married unemployed with no money. I didn’t grow up poor, but summer vacations were KOA’s and the grandparent’s place in Los Alamos, NM. I saw a lot of the US Mountain West. Later, I learned some of the Kentucky/Tennessee regions. All of that curled up in the back of my mind… and waited. When I needed to put ‘boots on the ground,’ I had scores of places to choose, right behind my eyes.

“Of the sixteen full-length novels I’ve written to date, only four have stayed completely outside Onteora County: three far-future science fiction novels and one magic-based high fantasy. The others have wound up there regardless of where they started or where I wanted to put them. Worse, the characters from my other Onteora Canon novels keep insinuating themselves into my new fictions.”

Knoxville, Tennessee is my game park as Onteora County is for him. I’m thinking about moving there in 5-10 years; Knoxville, that is. It will be easier for me than, say, St. Petersburg, Russia… Osaka, Japan… or Mars.

“And by jingo, it happened again! Characters from just about every other Onteora Canon novel started insisting that they belonged in this new one. I managed to fit a few new faces into the tale, but the “old Onteora crew” is there in force.”

This is where I decided to write this huge response. One character leading to another… As I mentioned, “Echoes…” was a natural continuation of “The Fourth Law.” “Cursed Hearts” lead to an unpublishable novella (I set it in someone else’s sandbox). But the two books of The Saga of Nichole 5? That main character shows up in many more books. Three year old Gary, holding little Henge’s hand at the end of “Echoes…” announces they want to be married. Ten years later, they have their own novel, “Worlds Without End.” Writing that, I met Gary’s kid sister, Faustina. Nine years later she puts together a private army and decided to attack the Chicom PLA garrison in Savannah, former Georgia. To-date, I’m finishing a damn trilogy about her, starting to come out in November. The father of the young women from “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes…”? He’s got a book. I’ve dozens of people like this, scattered all over my stories. Just because they do not have their own book today means nothing for next week.

“I don’t feel an urge to go back and “straighten it out.” I plan to publish it essentially as it is. There are a few elements I’ve decided need buttressing, but not to the extent of “de-hybridizing” the book as it stands. I look forward to hearing what its readers will think of it.”

While I cut my SF reading teeth as a kid on the hard science fiction of Niven and Pournelle, and my future history of Machine Civilization is bedrocked on sentient, sapient machines, I admit I take fantastical, Clarke’s-Third-Law leaps with the tech in my stories, so long as it tells the story. I read much, do research, make sure I’m talking about qubits in the right way… but if I need to use handwavium, that is what the story gets. I’m talking about people; some of whom are bags of bolts; some of whom are bags of blood. They are people.

“I can’t help but wonder how many more books I have in me. I’m old, and not in the best of health. But storytelling is an addiction, a tough one to shake. And I imagine that those damned Onteora characters, settings, and institutions will continue to have their way with me. At least, they have so far.”

I am a semi-professional alcoholic with chronic hypertension just turned fifty-four. Once the trilogy of Faustina’s “American Imperium” is released to the wild, I’m spending Winter 2021 recording audiobooks. I’ve no idea how long I have, either, but we have been given a priceless gift: to touch other’s minds with our ideas. I will keep at it until I die, later or sooner.

Having said all that to say this: thank you for your inspiration and your hard work, Mr. Porretto. As Empress Faustina cries to her legions, Deus vult!

Life imitates my works… I’ve lost count…

On the first hand:  “China and Russia ditch dollar in move toward financial alliance”

On the second hand:  “Step 4: Impeach or otherwise remove Trump by non-Constitutional means.”

On the gripping hand (from the prologue of Friend & Ally):

Hakane took another drag off his cigarette in Somi Corporation’s breakroom, laughing at his colleague’s comment.  It wasn’t so much their company discouraged smoking as that they wished to make sure their products were not contaminated.  Given the delicacy of some of the prototypes, all respected this rule.

“Can you believe it, Atazaki?” he asked, flourishing his newspaper.  “The US economy imploding like this?  I’m an engineer, not at economist, but how in the world…”

“Call it belief; call it faith.  Lose it, and your world ends,” his friend replied, looking at a domestic part of his own newspaper.

“What’s that?”  What Hakane knew of politics could fit into a sake cup.

“Since the war,” for a Japanese, that meant only one thing, “the world economy had the US dollar as its reserve currency, backed, not by gold or silver, but by the faith – mind you – that the US will always be there!”

Atazaki glanced at the clock over the inner door and decided one more cigarette was in order.

“So now we find,” he said, pointing at Hakane’s paper with his lighter, “that as the American President is being removed via extra-Constitutional means, the Russians, Chinese, and Indians are rolling out a new currency… what’s it called?”

“The ria,” Hakane managed.

“Whatever.  Backed by the gold they’ve been buying up for a generation, and indexed to oil.  At that point, US dollars became valueless.”

Hakane was still confused.  But why…

“Why is there rioting in the US?  And getting worse so fast?”

Atazaki blew a blue-grey cloud toward the ceiling’s scrubbers.

“It’s a replay of what almost happened back in 2008:  credit dries up, the velocity of money drops to zero.”

Atazaki realized his friend didn’t get a single word.  He tried again.

“Credit cards stop working; all the zeros and ones in banks are gone, and, for the Americans,” he took another drag, “their food-welfare cards, whatever they’re called, stopped working.”

He exhaled again and sat back.

“All cities in the US are starving right now.  And there is nothing… nothing at all, to stop it.”

I’m not kidding:  I was writing science fiction, not current events…