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Monday, April 17, 2017

Colonies of Kobol - Book One ... A Few Chapters from Earth

I'm nearing the end of the #BSG #TotalReWatch and I'm already about a third of the way through the first section of Colonies of Kobol, the sequel to Lords of Kobol designed to fill in the blanks between, during, and after that book series and all of the Battlestar Galactica TV series.

What do you need to know?  You should have read the Lords of Kobol trilogy and Prelude.  If you haven't read that free series yet, here's the link.  (Naturally, I'm expecting that you've seen all of the Battlestar Galactica TV series.  Duh.)

Even though I wrote most of what follows a couple of months ago, it's oddly timely.  Also, there's likely to be changes regarding the timelines, word choices, etc.  This is largely a first draft.

All of that being said, read on after the JUMP.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mapping "Colonies of Kobol"

If you're at all familiar with me, you know I love to map things.

Lords of Kobol, scifi, horror ... whatever I'm writing, I like to have a map handy.  More often than not, it will end up in the finished product.  Colonies of Kobol will be no different.

I don't plan on including a map for Earth, but I have made up a sketch that I'll be using for the writing. (Maybe I'll include a smaller version in the book.)

Most of the action, however, takes place in the Cyrannus Star System, which is a part of the Cimtar Star Cluster (which I noted in LoK - Book Three).  Here's what we know:

In the original show bible for the new series, there were twelve planets within a single solar system and that's what they used when they made the miniseries.  Science adviser Kevin Grazier came on before the first season was to be filmed and he changed things up a bit.  Instead of a dozen habitable worlds around a single star (which would be mathematically ridiculous), he opted for something that's fairly common in the galaxy: a double-binary star system.  Meaning, two binary systems that orbit each other; four suns, altogether.

Since we didn't spend much time in the Colonies after the first few episodes, it didn't matter much.  But then they made the prequel series, Caprica.  Since they would be doing nothing but living in the Twelve Colonies, they firmed up details in that show's bible.  Two bits of merch came out of that.

First, there's a nice little book called Beyond Caprica: A Visitor's Pocket Guide to the Twelve Colonies.

Written by actual real-world travel writer Bob Harris, it's a cool read.  Lots of production art from the show and trivia about the other Colonies we didn't see much of.  Not much in the way of maps, however.

And then there's the big wall map, created by Kevin Grazier and writer Jane Espenson, and released by QMX:

Obviously, that has lots of details and was a big influence on how I decided to make my own maps.  (And also the structure of the books I'll be writing.)

I wanted to make my maps of the systems simple.  Since they will primarily be seen on phones, Kindles, Nooks, etc., they needn't be crazy-large or overly detailed.  I just need to convey where the planets are in relation to each other and give a fact about each one.

Pretty self-explanatory.  Shows that Helios Alpha & Beta orbit each other, that Gamma & Delta orbit each other, and that both pairs orbit each other.  Thanks to the zoomed out look, I was able to put Ragnar in there, too.

For the following individual system maps, I set them up like a great conjunction.  Again, I'm not going for accuracy as much as I'm going for visual simplicity and explanation.

(Yes, Aquarion is sometimes called "Aquaria" in the show and related materials.  Might as well use both.)

And that's pretty much that for maps.  Again, I may decide to make maps of each colony as I write and if I do, I might include them.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Yes, I am writing a little bit at the moment.  I'm still in the middle of the "#BSG #TotalReWatch," and writing will begin in earnest when that's over.  But I've had some ideas that I needed to get written down.

More to come, of course!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lords of Kobol Ch-ch-ch-changes!

In this post, I'm going to lay out the future of Lords of Kobol, as well as Colonies of Kobol, my plans for writing it all, my plans for releasing it all, and more.

First off, Lords of Kobol - Book Four - Tales from Ancient Days is dead.  It has been unpublished.  Simply put, I've found it a distraction from the narrative through-line between the trilogy and Book Five.  I never intended to write a Book Five, so having a disconnected, alternate universe Book Four wasn't really an issue six years ago when it was published.  At any rate, it's gone and sequestered to the back of Book Three as Lords of Kobol - Alternate: Tales from Ancient Days.  It's bonus footage, if you will, on the Blu-ray of Book Three.

Also, Book Five is dead.  Long live Prelude.

Since Book Five is a prequel to the trilogy, retitling it Prelude was an obvious decision, plus it mitigates the confusion caused by Book Four.

So, again, if you visit my page on Smashwords, you will no longer find Book Four and you will see that Book Five has been renamed.

Now, on to Colonies of Kobol.

If you haven't been following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., shame.  Secondly, you may not know that I've been doing a Battlestar Galactica rewatch and reread.  I started with the original series back in the spring, followed by Galactica 1980.  Then, I tackled the BSG-verse in chronological order.  First, I read Lords of Kobol - Prelude, then Book One, Two, and Three.  Then I watched Caprica, followed by Blood & Chrome.  As of this writing, I'm at the beginning of Galactica itself's second season.  As I watch each episode, I take notes and livetweet info about the show, both what's on screen and behind-the-scenes.  I also tweet about connections to my Kobol books.  Just look for the hashtags "#BSG #TotalReWatch."

Obviously, the main purpose behind the rewatch and reread is to get my head into the universe so I can start writing again.  I'm making notes, making outlines, and - believe it or not - I've already started writing some scenes that got into my head because I was afraid they'd leave me if I didn't put cursor to screen, as it were.

Volume One will begin with the end of Earth and the fleeing of the Final Five.  It will be followed by a few other books about different colonies, primarily in the years after the flight from Kobol (beginning with the first settlements on Gemenon).  The Earth part of the book is largely outlined already and I like it.

Volume Two deals with the middle ages, sorta, of the Colonies.  Lots of growing pains as humanity rules itself for the first time in millennia without gods watching over them.  (Fans of the original series may like that logo as it's the symbol for Galactica.  Here, it's the seal of the Virgon Empire.)

Finally, Volume Three will take us up to the Fall of the Colonies, fill in some blanks that surround Caprica and Blood & Chrome, and so forth.  I don't want to spoil anything, but part of what I've already written is in the final pages of this book.

Do I have a timetable on when these will be finished?  Well, no.  If I start in earnest in early 2017, maybe it'll be done and ready to publish in 2018.  I can't be more specific than that.  (Writing the Lords of Kobol trilogy took about six or so months, but the words just flowed, man.  Writing Book Five [Prelude] took a couple of years because I fell into a creative funk for a bit.  Who knows if that'll hit me again.)

Is there anything after Colonies of Kobol?  Well, YES.

I'm calling these the "Marble Editions."  I intend to provide author's commentary on the books by means of a link at the end of each chapter that will take the reader to the back of the book, where there will be details on why I made certain choices, images from the writing process, and more.  (I will probably publish this as one, big-ass book.)

Naturally, after those "Marble Editions" will come these "Marble Editions":

Same deal: author's commentary, images, and more woven throughout via links at the end of each chapter.

OK, now here's the big deadline I've set for myself.

March, 2019.

Why then?  The final episodes of Battlestar Galactica aired in March, 2009.  I figure ten years is enough time for me to write all I'm going to write and close out the universe for good.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, "Ernest," and Twenty-Five Years

October 24 marks the passing of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.  As of yesterday, it has been 25 years since he died.  What follows isn't my remembrance of that day, but of the day after, and how it crystallized for me the weight of Star Trek in my life.

On October 25, 1991, I was a junior in high school.  My locker was in a building nowhere near where my classes were, so I had to run there first to get my books before first period.  Apparently, my bus was late getting there, because I only recall seeing one other student at a locker nearby.

"I guess you're in mourning," Jamie said.

Obviously, I was known for being a fan of Star Trek.  My father showed episodes of TOS and TAS to me once I was old enough to sit upright.  We went to the movies and we watched TNG, too.

My answer to Jamie was, "Huh?  What for?"

"Gene Roddenberry died."  The look on my face must have stunned him because he immediately said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  I thought you knew."

"No."  I knelt by my bookbag and stared blankly at what was inside.  "I didn't."

I don't remember too much else about that day.  I was wearing gray pants with a distressing excess of pockets, as was the style at the time.  I was also wearing a gray Star Trek shirt.  It had partial wireframe schematic-type images of the Enterprises 1701, 1701-A, and 1701-D.  Pretty cool, but I can't find an image online.

At any rate, I went to my German class that afternoon.  The teacher, Herr Lane, turned to me before the bell rang and said, "I figured you'd be wearing black today."

"Yeah," I said.  "I would have if I'd known."

Since then, I have worn only black, with few exceptions.  I tell people it's because it's easy to coordinate, etc., but the germ of the idea began on October 25, 1991, and is about not being properly attired after the death of Gene Roddenberry.

That day was a Friday and, apparently, my mom promised my brother that we'd go to the movies that evening.  I don't remember how much say -- if any -- I had in choosing the film.  It's possible that I had wanted to see the movie in question at some point in time, but it's safe to say "I wasn't feeling it" that night.

Ernest Scared Stupid.

I recall sitting in a different row from my mom and brother at the Ballou Park theater.  I remember propping my elbow on the armrest and holding my jaw with my hand.  I was a proper morose teenager, but with a fairly decent reason that evening.

The trailers began.  Then ... one trailer in particular played.

I was utterly destroyed.  Watching it again, just now, for the first time in years, I was destroyed anew.  I remember sitting in that theater seat, crying, and trying to stifle myself while other previews were screened.

Ernest played on and he was, presumably, frightened into idiocy.  The whole time, however, I thought about the trailer and Star Trek in general.

That day, I realized that it was no longer just the shows and movies I shared with my father.  No, these were now mine.  These were my friends and adventures.  They meant the world to me.  The stories and the people involved were deeply connected to my very core.  And the man who made it all possible was gone.

Others in the franchise have departed since then.  DeForest, James, Majel, Leonard, Anton, and others, sung and unsung, in front of and behind the camera.  But this is a special goodbye for Gene.  His death laid me emotionally bare, if only because it was then that I realized how important to me it all was.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My pitch for a trilogy of Galactica films

Fans of Battlestar Galactica likely heard the recent news that Universal has hired a new scribe and director to work on a feature film reboot of the show.  (Lisa Joy, writer-producer of the new Westworld show, and Francis Lawrence, director of a Hunger Games film, are attached.)  All indications are that it will be a variation on the original series and not a reboot of the recent series.

At this stage, I'm somewhat ambivalent because we know next to nothing about the film and how it will be handled.  But I've played in that universe before to some minor acclaim.  My wheels began to spin, and I crafted an outline for a trilogy of films that blend elements of both the original and reimagined series.

Now, I know.  Putting both the '70s and the '00s shows into a plot blender?  I bet it'll end up like this:

I would have said the same.

However, after having written this out, I could enjoy it.  Is it derivative?  Sure, but I think it has the potential to be an action-packed crowd pleaser.

Since there are SPOILERS for a movie that'll never get made, I'll post my pitch after the JUMP.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My son & I review Ray Harryhausen films

Followers of mine know that my son and I like to watch a bunch of movies together.  We review a great many of them over at my Tumblr page.

We started a couple of years ago, watching and reviewing about ninety kaiju-type films in the lead-up to the release of Godzilla (2014).  

Last year, we watched and reviewed about seventy-five Universal & Hammer-style classic monster movies.

Now, at my son’s request, we've watched and reviewed the filmography of the great Ray Harryhausen.


I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Harryhausen about a decade ago at an event wherein he discussed his career.  It was a cool event, largely because he screened the then-unreleased completed version of his “Tortoise & Hare” short.  (The only black mark, in my opinion, came when he criticized the recent movie King Kong [2005] for being soulless.  I thoroughly disagree with him on that point.)

Click the links to read our reviews:

Monday, May 2, 2016

"The Art of Death": Real Museum Pieces in the Book

I've made no secret that the real Virginia Museum of Fine Arts heavily influenced the fictitious Richmond Museum of Fine Arts.


After the JUMP, you'll see pics of many things at the VMFA (and elsewhere) that inspired various scenes and such in The Art of Death.

Even if you can't make it to the VMFA, maybe it'll make you want to visit your own nearby art museum.