Fan Fiction Account is Live

The third thing I’ve been up to is playing video games and writing fan fiction.

I bought the new Tomb Raider and liked it a lot.  The game is a relaunch of the franchise’s continuity apparently, and I appreciate Lara Croft’s new background.  In the first Tomb Raider movie, she came off (to me) as a spoiled rich woman who became an awesome adventure archaeologist simply because she could.  But in the relaunch of the game you don’t even realize that she’s wealthy at all and her becoming an adventure archaeologist is a matter of survival for herself and her friends rather than a decision made out of boredom and being naturally awesome at everything.  The result, I think, is a much more believable and relatable character.  It also doesn’t hurt that Lara’s bust size has decreased to more believable bounds.

My complaints are few and forgivable.  The rope arrows are clearly magical as they tie knots and return to your hand (you can fire them without using ammunition).  There is a bit of unrealistic first aid in that Lara is impaled in the abdomen by rusty rebar in one of the game’s opening scenes, pulls it out, and doesn’t try to bandage the wound until halfway through the game–but nevertheless is able to jump, climb, wade through nasty water, and fight off hoards of mooks without bleeding out or getting an infection (though, to the designer’s credit, this wound and others do continue to visibly bother her throughout the game).  I was also secretly hoping that Lara’s friend, Sam, would turn out to be more of an action girl herself, but instead she get’s stuck with the distress ball, spending the overwhelming majority of the game as a hostage in need of rescue.  All of these are forgivable, though, for the sake of the awesome story and gameplay.  The only thing that really upset me was the quick-time events in the middle of fights.  If you don’t hit the button at exactly the right time, you lose–and I got killed so many times by this one wolf this way: more deaths from that than from any other cause.

I’ve also been getting back into Star Trek Online, now that their relaunch of the Klingon faction and new Romulan faction are live.  I’ve been writing more fan fiction from that game, too.  My latest story stars Carlin, from the former Vega Colony Attack stories posted here.  The story is titled “The Best Revenge” and can be found on FanFiction.net, which is a much better place for it, honestly.  It deals with Carlin before she was joined to the Drel symbiont, dealing with her father’s abandonment and facing off against Species 8472 for the first time.  More stories will follow, including a FanFiction.net relaunch of the Vega Colony Attack story.  Planned stories include a Star-Trekked version of the Tomb Raider game (whose basic concept is actually very similar to several plots used by the Original Series of Star Trek) wherein Sam is an action girl, a story introducing a Klingon-faction character (a human-Orion hybrid with angst from never fitting in), and one introducing a Romulan-faction character (a Romulan-Vulcan hybrid ex-Tal Shiar agent forced to survive on a derelict ship for years after the supernova that destroys the Romulan homeworld).

“The Secret Letters” will probably also move to FanFiction.net, as there is a category for Secret World fan fiction.  Visit my page there if you want to see my latest fan fiction work.  I hope you like it and I’m excited to be using fan fiction as a way to introduce myself to the world of online publishing (in a way) and get to know some of the concepts and techniques before launching myself into self-publishing with my completed book.

Astrea Alexandra Universe Re-Imagined

The second thing I’ve been doing since finishing my novel is I’ve been preparing for a science fiction series starring Astrea Alexandra by doing a lot of world building.  Not much of my recent work has been on character backgrounds or the like, but on the development of the universe of the stories itself.

My ideas have evolved significantly.  My original concept (I have a scene for it written out, which I might post someday) looked a lot like a cross between Andromeda Ascendant and Star Trek.  The series was set in the Andromeda Galaxy and ships flew in classic space opera style (that is, they got to speed instantly and had to run their nuclear reaction-based engines all the time in order to maintain speed in the presence of space friction).  However, since then I’ve made the decision to set the story in the Milky Way, with human controlled space centered on Earth.  This forced me to find a way to link our history with the history of interstellar civilization in the story.  It’s also forced me to use real stars.  Fortunately, I’ve found a program called AstroSynthesis which is just perfect for this.  I can plug known stellar data into it and have it randomly generate scientifically plausible star systems, which I can modify at will, creating a map of the story’s universe.

I’ve also decided to go with a reactionless drive based on artificial gravitation (basically the ship and everything in it accelerates by “freefalling” through space in a desired direction) and have ships obey Newtonian physics during spaceflight rather than fiddling around with space friction.  Both of these have introduced significant changes.

Now that the ships use “grav drives”–and the properties of grav drives have been worked out–they look very different.  All ships are basically cigar shaped now and only use their propulsion systems to accelerate or change orientation instead using them constantly.  Since ships can accelerate in many different directions freely, they have no hard-and-fast “front” and “rear”–though convention still gives them a bow and stern and has them traveling with one of these pointed in the direction of flight most of the time.  Decks are arranged to be perpendicular to the length of the ship (so that it’s like a giant cigar-shaped tower) to resolve any imbalance of forces from artificial gravity (ex: everyone is on the upper decks, and their combined weight creates a net force on the structure of the ship) along the vessel’s flight path rather than across it (where such forces would deflect the vessel from its course–and in space even a deflection of a few degrees could mean a miss of millions of miles).  Due to the working out of what environmental artificial gravity (keeping the crew’s feet on the ground, separate device from the grav drive) looks like, decks are arranged in alternating pairs with Deck 1’s “up” being “down” on Deck 2, etc (which also balances the weight of the crew).

Warships in combat however will engage each other flying sideways through space, as this broadside-facing allows them to employ the maximum number of weapons at once and allows sensors mounted in the bow and aft sections to be used to triangulate targets.  By tradition the best armor, shielding, and weapons are mounted on the dorsal broadside and the more sensitive systems (cooling systems, magazines, fuel storage, hanger bays, etc) are mounted on the ventral broadside.  All of this has vastly changed my concept of what the Astrea Alexandra will look like and how she will fight.  They will definitely still employ antimatter warheads over obscene ranges of a light minute or more (but then again, space is big–why shoot the other guy from a few meters away, a la DS9, when you could hit him with guided missiles from a few million kilometers away?), though due to the increasing efficiency of point-defense lasers over the last few thousand kilometers (where missiles going for a hit must become less evasive and the lag time is increasingly small) a direct hit on a modern warship will be very rare.  All warheads will instead be designed to focus the gamma radiation of their blasts forward into a beam fired from stand-off range.  Ships will use loose formations to concentrate and coordinate their defensive fire and increase the number of offensive missiles coming at a target from the same vector, with several classes of ship (the frigate and especially the missile-destroyer and destroyer escort) existing exclusively for that purpose.  Macross Missile Massacres are the order of the day, but are modest in size, even in universe, prevailing military thought being that higher quality missiles with longer range and greater firepower are better than swarms of lower quality missiles.

Though the vision needs much fleshing out, my current thought is that the story will look a lot more like a dystopian Honor Harrington novel than an episode of Star Trek–and also that the warships in this universe will be able to easily take on warships from most other space opera (I like to compare their military performance to that of other ships and try to figure out how they would have handled the various combat situations in science fiction–and mostly they would win hands down due to being able to stand-off most other ships in scifi, which engage each other at ranges of 1 light second or less: knife-edge fighting for ships in this universe).

Completed Manuscript and Other Ventures

Well, if you’ve seen me on Facebook, you probably know that I completed my manuscript for The Sword of the Princess as of May 17.  If not I finished it!!!! Whoot!!!

The Sword of the Princess weighs in at 73 chapters and roughly 287,000 words.  It’s a large book, no question, but not nearly as large as the huge font and double spacing led me to believe (those combine to make it nearly 1,400 pages with an average chapter length of around 20 pages–but in regular font and single-spaced formatting that average length comes down to 9 pages and the total length comes down appreciably to an estimated 600 pages).  It’s the largest thing I’ve ever written and I’ve been working on it since sophomore year of college, so roughly four years?  I’m definitely relieved to have it finished.

The Sword of the Princess is  the first of a planned series of “Sword of” books.  Now that it’s done, the first four books of the series all have complete drafts.  Unfortunately, I wrote the last three of these books before realizing that The Sword of the Princess needed to be written and was the best place to start the series.  As a result of this and changes that happened during the process of writing this story, the other three sequels will require complete re-writes.  Those I will get to as soon as Sword of the Princess nears the end of its editing.

Now the question I keep getting asked is this: “Do you plan on publishing your book?”  The answer is a resounding yes!  However, I will not publish the book right away.  It still needs copyediting and at least some revisions.  In order to be able to look at it with fresh eyes, I’ll be setting it aside for some time.  During that time, though, I welcome input from any beta readers.  I’m preparing a beta version for release to anyone who’s interested in checking out the book and providing feedback.  Anyone who provides feedback will receive a free copy of the final book when it is published.  If you are interested in being a beta reader, please contact me!  Just type “I want to be a beta reader” (or something like that) into the contact form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible (and no, I will not share your information with third parties: I get enough spam myself to know how annoying that is).


And it is going to be published!  I’ve received various suggestions for courting traditional publishers, but my internship in one such publisher and my research into the industry in general leads me to think that self-publishing is a much better route.  The self-publishing process is faster, virtually risk free, and allows a writer to profit even off of very little sales.  With good promotion and good material, a self-published novel can do just as well as a traditionally published novel, and may even attract the attention and acquisition of a large publishing firm.  While I’m still weighing my options, my current leaning is toward either Lulu.com or Amazon.  Either way, the book will mainly be for ebook, but will also be available in print on request.

Of course, the book was completed nearly two months ago.  So what have I been up to since?  Well, the first answer is preparing the book for beta release by adding a glossary with hyperlinks to aid in navigation within the glossary, as well as finding the right entry quickly (I wanted it to be so that if you’d forgotten what character or setting a name went with, you could just click on a link and be brought to their entry in the glossary, which would give you a brief refresher).  Coding internal links took longer than I’d expected, but I’m pleased with the end result.

The second and third answers really deserve posts of their own…