Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Aug. 31, 2016

Science catching up to my novel


It's been a long time since the last blog. No excuses, just didn't do it. Now with "Forgiven" completed and readers getting a view of the ongoing story, there are a couple of things I'd like to write about.
I tried hard in "Forgiven" to base what I wrote on current day science, taking the liberty to add a few creative touches here and there and doing some extrapolations as to what might come.
It is no coincidence that I chose the Alpha Centauri triple-star system as the home world of the aliens who finally make contact with Earth. Given my thesis that the human species is partly a product of the colonization of earth by extraterrestrials, and given the time frame, I needed to chose a close by star system that might have planets. And I chose Proxima Centauri as the location of the home planet of the aliens because the fact that the star is a brown dwarf, it would be harder to locate a planet there than it would be around other stars.
The proximity of the star and planet to Earth was also important to my story. I wanted the colonization of Earth to happen on the early side of technological development of the planet because at that time they would have not solved the problem of how to travel at, or faster than, the speed of light. In fact, with current technology on this planet, scientist estimate traveling at one-tenth the speed of light is possible, just what I had my aliens traveling during their initial colonial mission.
The recent reports (the week of Aug. 21) that a planet was discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri was very exciting. In that story, it was estimate that it would take 58 years for us to reach that planet. That's the same amount of time I said it had taken my aliens to reach Earth on their first colonial mission.
Ten thousand years later, during the time "Forgiven" is set, the aliens, I call them Progenians in "Forgiven," have discovered how to beat the light speed barrier. In my book I call the mechanism they use a "slingpoint." I will be explaining more of that in the next book, but it again will be based on current-day science and where recent discoveries regarding light, gravity, and magnetism might take us.
It was fun to see real science support some of the suppositions I made in "Forgiven." I hope my readers have shared the enjoyment.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why are we so afraid of aliens

Why is it that almost every time you see a movie or read a book about extraterrestrial beings, they are evil and dangerous?
Why can't there be friendly aliens? You know, the kind that only wants the human species on this little out-of-the-way planet to join the community of star travelers.
Would it be too much to ask people to believe that other forms of life in the universe are friendly and pose no danger to humanity?
I think the reason is pretty simple, yet very hard to combat. We, all of us, fear things we do not understand. The natural reaction is to get defensive and to stir up that fear so we will have the motivation to take action to protect ourselves.
It makes sense. Better to be prepared than to remain unprepared and vulnerable. Even if we knew that at some defined point in the near future we would have to say hello to an alien, would we do as much to prepare if we had nothing to fear?
I doubt it.
So, we use fear to motivate us. The fear, I believe is innate. It comes from generations and generations of having to fight to survive. If our ancestors did not fight, they would be killed, by an animal, by another human, by nature. It truly was survival of the fittest and we used fear to keep our fighting edge honed.
Sitting in our cave, or in some hut in Africa, we learned to fear the night, fear big animals, fear noises that threatened us, fear different peoples, fear things we didn't understand. Fear has kept us alive, allowed our species to become the most dominate on this planet.
But what about other planets? We keep on discovering new planets outside our solar system and someday we will find one that supports life. I likely will be long dead before we find one that supports intelligent life or a species that has developed any kind of technology, especially a technology that will allow us to communicate with them.
I just hope that when that discovery comes, we can put our fear aside long enough to not be immediately hostile to those communicating with us. We need to be prepared. But we need to be peaceful, have an open mind and look for the best in whatever we face.
Science fiction is full of scary stuff -- intelligent species that are very ugly and mean, usually in the form of some giant thing that in its smaller form we are afraid of, like spiders or worms, bees or ugly reptiles.
We don't often imagine aliens being like teddy bears or pretty ponies or mermaids. Friendly things just don't fit with our concept of the unknown.
Fear has got a grip on us. I just hope we can pry loose of that by the time we do have to meet our neighbors from the universe.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Good progress on Forsaken sequel

Good progress on Forsaken sequel


I've been making good progress on the sequel to Forsaken. Since last fall when I reduced the amount of time I've been riding my bike, I've written about 85,000 words.

I've developed a new set of characters, a new scene and new plot line. The basic plot line is the same, Jarrod McKinley fighting a set of foes who are determined to stop, or control, his effort to make first contact with what he believes are aliens sending messages to Earth.

The new plot lines involve other sets of characters and other scenes that will have a major impact on how Jarrod sees this universe and how he responds to the promises and threats he sees.

As the story reaches a climax, Jarrod must once again defeat a powerful foe. But this time he is not sure that if he defeats this foe, he quest will truly be over. Will he find the answers this new action creates, or will it just pose more questions for him to resolve.

I hope to finish the first draft within the month, by the first of April, 2015.

Rewrite and editing will take some time. Publication date? No time has been set.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life interrupts work on the sequel

Writing the sequel to Forsaken is going slower than I ever imagined. I have no one to blame, really, except myself and the choices I have made.

The last couple of years, I have chosen to spend a lot of time riding my bicycle. Two years ago, 2012, I rode 5,200 miles on my bike, including week-long rides in Colorado (Ride the Rockies) and in Europe, the Dolomites in Italy. In 2013 I rode 5,600 miles including a lot of riding in the Denver area, rides in New Mexico and and in Europe, the Tuscany region of Italy.

I have also been traveling more. My wife retired in 2012 and we have traveled to many great spots around this country and a trip to Italy last year. And, given she has much more time than before, we make frequent trips around the Denver metro area and the Front Range of Colorado.

I also am still involved as a board member on two non-profits in the Castle Rock area. This two worthy entities, a land trust, the Douglas Land Conservancy, and Rotary do a lot of good things for the communities they serve. My work there has also been satisfying, but does take up a good deal of my time.

The bottom line is, I have not given writing the priority it needs to make much progress on the sequel to Forsaken. I wish I could promise more, but I best just leave it as it is and let my actions speak for themselves. It is not that I do not know what to write. I've got about 30,000 words written and have developed several different plot lines that keep the action moving and should serve to introduce some new characters, some new, for me, philosophies and some new conclusions that should provoke some thought among my readers.

For example, why to humans most often tend to look up when seeking answers to the fundamental question of who we are and where we come from. Why is Heaven "up" there and not down, or in the branch of a tree or in the wave of an ocean? Is it just that the stars have lighted up the sky and given us something to stare at? To try to figure out? To attach symbols of living things to? Or is it more?

And what would happen if we did solve the time and space problem, to be able to travel faster than the speed of light? That would change our relationship to other solar systems and the way we look at other places where planets could be favorable to life.

All of these things are working there way into the sequel to Forsaken. Now I just need to keep writing. I'll keep you posted on any progress being made.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Writing on the sequel to Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints is going slow, but good.
I have not had the discipline I had during the writing of Forsaken. While writing that novel, my first, I was home alone with not much else to do. I was not so involved in community groups, was not so involved in riding my bike and my wife was working.
Now I am president of the Douglas Land Conservancy, in charge of my Rotary club's Student of the Month program, involved in two other Rotary projects and I have increased my bike riding to between 4,000 and 5,000 miles a year. In June my wife retired and is home pretty much full time.
All of this has meant I have a lot more distractions than in the past. If I am going to write at the same pace I did before, I am going to have to be much more disciplined with my time. I need to get good block of time, four to five hours at a time, four or five days a week.
On the other hand, I have been making progress on the sequel, tentatively titled Forgiven. I have written more than 27,000 words and sketched out the three major plot lines I plan to use throughout the book.
Using the end of Forsaken as a starting point, I am bringing back most of the major characters of that work. I have already introduced a new villain, in a much different role than The Rev. Paul Larchmont. This time it is not religion that will be the primary obstacle for my hero, Jarrod McKinley, to overcome. Instead he will have to fight another common foe to mankind, the corporate giant which can rule our lives and our culture in so many ways.
Also I have introduced a new element that will make the story more of a true science fiction work. I'm not going to reveal what that is until much later, perhaps not until the book is released.
This new element, however, will add some elements to the origination theories of mankind that I think my readers will find interesting. These elements will combine religion, myth, popular fiction and some science.
But, rest assured, as the fall progresses to winter, there will be fewer yard chores and projects, much less time spent riding the bike, and more time devoted to writing. I have set a goal of getting the first draft of the novel written by April of next year, 2013. From that point, it will probably take me six months to get the research  completed, the rewrites done and then done again.
A good timeline would be able to turn it over to a copy editors by about July or August of next year.
Here's hoping. In the meantime, I have to do more to publicize Forsaken. How to do that, I am struggling with.
I now have the novel in two large local independent book stores in Boulder and Denver, a website, I have a Facebook page and mention any developments on that page and on Twitter and LinkedIn.
What else can I do? That is what I need to discover. Getting involved in a writer's group or a Sci Fi group would be good.
Just more things to squeeze into my days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Off the bike, the hard way

I have not been riding my bike much lately, and that's good news for the writing of the sequel to Forsaken.
Aug. 9, while riding my bike, I crashed hard and landed on my left side on a local street not far from my house. I was riding one of my regular training routes where the streets are normally clean and clear.
As I approached a corner in the Bomar subdivision, I pulled out an intersection ahead of some traffic. I crossed the street and headed down the hill. I leaned to take a quick corner on to the next street.
The next thing I knew I was bouncing across the street. I could tell as soon as I hit that I had hurt something, probably my ribs. I sat up in the street and declined an offer of help from the driver of the vehicle that was following me. I had hit a patch of gravel, apparently left there by a recent rainstorm.
When I stood up, my left side was covered in blood, from my left hand, down my forearm, my hip and my leg down to my ankle. It was hard breathing, but not so difficult that I couldn't stand and straighten out my bike. I had to adjust the right brake lever.
That's when I noticed that I had soreness in my right hand, specifically the thumb.
I wiped away some of the blood, but had to blot it a couple of time to stop the flowing. I got on my bike and continued to ride, not sure how bad I was hurt.
After about a half mile, I knew it was time to ease my way home. About a half mile later I realized I was not seeing very well. My vision was blurred. I wondered if it was because I had hit my head on the pavement, but soon discovered that the prescription insert in my sunglasses was missing. It apparently had been knocked out when I slammed into the ground.
I continued home without much effort but was starting to feel the pain more by the time I arrived. After announcing my arrival and telling Susan not to worry too much, I made a call to arrange a doctor's visit. Then we went back to the scene of the crash to find my prescription insert.
After a short inspection of the crash site, a home owner announce she had found them on the road and came out to inquire as to my condition.
We then went to the doctor's office and after much longer than I expected, they cleaned me up, patched my road rash and did some X-rays on my ribs and hand. They found two broken ribs on my upper left side and a broken right thumb. I was sent home with some pain meds and a splint on my thumb.
After a week, I got a cast on my thumb. The first ride after the crash came on the Monday following the Wednesday that I received the cast. It was not easy trying to manipulate the gears and brake with the right hand.
In addition, I got a flat and tried to change it with one hand. A passing biker helped but the spare tube I had was no good. Fortunately, I was near a bike shop and got me going again.
I took another short ride about a week later. I went for a couple of more short rides on my mountain bike in the next two weeks. After four weeks I got the cast taken off and replaced with a splint. By that time the ribs were almost healed but the thumb was, and still is, very weak.
On Sept. 16, I went for a 40-mile ride with some friends. The splint worked well to support the thumb but my shoulder was still sore and caused me the most pain.
I will ride again soon. Probably tomorrow, Sept. 19.
What this has done is to redirected my attention back to my writing. In the last month I have written more on the sequel to my novel, Forsaken.
At this point I have developed a good plot line that involves several actions scenes and sets down the basic foundation for three sets of points of view. One of the main protagonist, the antagonist, and a new set of characters who will influence the overall course of the book.
I have written about 27,000 words so far and only have a few more chapters to go before all of the timelines will be in place.
Writing this book is proving to be more difficult. The plot lines are more complex and the characters are going to require much more work as to how they relate to the theme of the book and the final outcome. Another issue has been the distractions. We are traveling more, Susan is home now, home chores and other volunteer stuff seems to intrude more than in the past.
I have not gotten into the habit of spending concentrated time on the novel. Soon we will leave on a 3-1/2-week road trip to the east. I will try to write some then, but don't have much confidence I will get uninterrupted blocks of time. I suspect most of the writing on this book will have to take place later this fall and winter.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Biking vs. writing: Biking has been winning

The last six to eight months I have been devoting most of my spare time to biking. I like to ride road bikes, the two-wheel, pedal kind.
Since January I have ridden about 3,950 miles with a goal of 5,000 by the end of this year.
I took two long rides this year. A 440-mile ride through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It's an annual ride put together by the Denver Post. This year we rode from Gunnison to Fort Collins, going over about six passes, include Independence Pass near Aspen and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. I finished that ride June 15. On June 20 I left for France where I joined a group which traveled to the Dolomites in Italy for a six-day ride. That ride was more challenging, 12 passes, climbing more than 43,000 feet.
I did well on both rides. Had a fall on the Italy ride which gave me some road rash and a sore shoulder but did not stop me from completing the ride.
I continued riding after I got home, until this last Thursday, Aug. 9, when I hit a gravel patch on a ride around my neighborhood streets. I was in the Bomar subdivision in southwest Denver. It is a large lot subdivision of small paved streets, gentle hills and very few hazards. Normally the streets are clean and smooth. Just before I fell, I pulled on to Sheridan Blvd. and increased my speed to get off the road because I could see a small pickup truck had just pulled away from a stop sign behind me. I banked hard to take a left turn. Right near a bush, still in the shadows, was a gravel wash, left there by recent rainstorms. I had no warning. First thing I knew I was on the ground, the impact was hard and I felt some pain. I must have flipped because I also injured my left side. The driver of the truck slowed to ask if I was alright. I nodded yes, and he drove off. I collected myself, straightened my brake levers and, after a few minutes continued the ride. After a mile or two, I decided I had better head home. Many years ago I had fallen and broken three ribs and punctured a lung. This didn't feel that bad, but bad enough to make me want to be off my bike.
I got home and I was a bloody mess all along my left side and I was in more pain. After about three hours in the medical facility, mostly waiting for care, the diagnosis was two broken ribs on my left and a broken thumb on my right hand. I got severe road rash on my left side from the tips of my fingers to my ankle. They were digging out gravel with a forceps.
I am now hobbled up, won't be riding for a while, so maybe I can get back to writing more.
I've completed about 21,500 words of the sequel to Forgiven and have pretty good idea where it's going. There are some details that I am sure I will have to iron out, and a lot of facts to check. But, I've got a good idea where I want to end up.
This novel will be a bit more in the sci-fi realm than was Forgiven. I want to deal more with the big question, "Are we alone in the Universe" and how the heck did we get here in the first place.
Maybe I will keep up with this blog more often when I get back to the writing mode.