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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Writing Colonies, Part III: Mapping the Galaxy

You know me.  I love making making maps.

This time around, I felt it necessary to provide a depiction of the fleet's journey to Earth II (aka "New Earth," "our Earth").

There are three astronomical tidbits we know to be true, by virtue of science and of the show.
  1. Earth II is 4,100 light-years from the Lagoon Nebula (astronomy)
  2. Earth I is just under 2,000 light years from the Colonies (due to the Final Five's sublight but relativistic journey)
  3. The Colonies, Kobol, Earth I, and Earth II are very closely aligned in the same direction with the Lagoon Nebula (we know this thanks to the Tomb of Athena and the star alignment viewed by Gaeta in "Revelations")

These things make it pretty easy to arrange stuff along a line-of-sight that stretches through Earth II and the Lagoon Nebula.  Thanks to the similar appearance of constellations Gaeta verifies in orbit of Earth I, we know that Earth I is in the same line with Earth II and, basically, in the same "neighborhood."

In the show, it is said that the Ionian Nebula is 13,000 light-years away from the algae planet (Oasis).  Since that figure is way, way beyond any other distance in the show (and would actually put it near the galactic center), I'm forced to say they misspoke and that it should actually be 1,300 light-years.  I also put it beyond Earth I and Earth II, because of the distance and because "WE'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY."  It's fairly obvious that the fleet was lost for several episodes after Starbuck's return and the signal from her Viper on Earth I led them back in the right direction.

Given the stops the fleet makes along the way post-New Caprica, that's where I placed the Lion's Head Nebula and the Magadon Star Cluster (with Oasis).  Slightly off the line-of-sight with Lagoon, but close enough to make sense.

Does it seem small?  It shouldn't.  That's nearly three thousand light-years.  That's a ridiculously vast amount of space.  Plus, there's a fact about our galaxy that can't be adequately conveyed in this map: space is three dimensional.  More than that, our galaxy is about 1,000 light-years thick, so that makes the volume of space to be explored for Earth (I & II) even more mind-boggingly huge.

Here's another map to give you some perspective on how big a percentage of the galaxy the fleet traversed:

Crazy, huh?

More to come ...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Writing Colonies, Part II: The Final Five and The Colony

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw me post the image for Book Fourteen: The Colony.  (If you don't follow me on Facebook, you should.)

This is the part of the book(s) I'm currently writing.  Why?  Well, I just finished Book One: Earth which featured the Final Five.  In this book, the Five finally reach the Twelve Colonies.  It made sense for me to go ahead and keep writing with the same characters while they were fresh in my head.

As mentioned on the show, this happened in the twelfth year of the First Cylon War and they convinced the Cylons to end the conflict in exchange for the Five giving them resurrection technology.

For a long while, this book was going to be subtitled The Enemy only because I thought Colonies of Kobol - Book Fourteen: The Colony was kinda redundant.  But that would conflict with the naming convention I established with every other book in the series.  So The Colony it is.

Minor spoilers next, though you'll likely forget about it by the time I'm ready to release the damn things.

Book Thirteen is Caprica.  It will pick up after the end of that series and show the revolution that led to the war, as well as the first parts of the war.  Fourteen will have more of the war, then the Five arrive and the book will become more about them helping the Cylons create the "skinjobs."

Before that, though, I wrote some chapters about the Five's journey to the Colonies and a big problem I didn't know I had.  You can read about it after the JUMP:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Writing Colonies, Part I: The Basics and a Bit of Inspiration

Colonies of Kobol is underway and I'm 1/16 finished.


Before I get too deep, I wanted to tell everyone what's up, where my thinking is, etc., when it comes to the story of CoK and how it will be presented.

As I've stated before, there will be sixteen separate books contained in three different volumes.  Volume One is about establishing this part of the universe (Cylon Earth and the founding of the Twelve Colonies).  Volume Two is primarily about the Virgon Empire, an unmentioned part of Colonial history that plays a huge, thousand-year role in the Colonies becoming what they are.  Volume Three is about the revolutions that lead to the Cylon War and then the Fall of the Colonies.

Obviously, this trilogy is a sequel to Lords of Kobol and, largely, a prequel to both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica.  Basically, I'm filling in the blanks of the history of the "Kobolverse" or "BSGverse."

Since the books span multiple thousands of years, I needed a common thread.  In Lords of Kobol, it was easy because I had the Olympians themselves.  They were immortal.  But I had a realization a while back ... the primary characters throughout the Kobolverse are the Messengers of The One True God.  Those two "angels" are there on Larsa, through Kobol, on Earth I, in the Colonies, in the Fleet, and on Earth II.  Their mission is the survival of humanity and preservation of life (including Cylons).  They embody the themes of the show and the books.  Making them the central characters was an easy choice.  But despite their centrality, they're also background figures.

Let me diverge for a second and talk about fan fiction.  Yes, my books are fan fiction by definition.  Official channels passed on them, yet I published them anyway.  A common trap in fan fiction is the use of known characters (from a film or TV show), as well as the insertion of the author into the work.  Also, it's common for the fan fiction to get "cute" when it comes to inserting certain characters in unlikely events or introducing someone's grandaddy when it's not necessary.  Throughout Lords of Kobol, I believe I avoided these traps.

In Colonies, as I get closer to the "current" era of the TV shows, I have to involve the characters we already know.  I intend to do so sparingly and with reverence to how they're portrayed on screen.  (The Final Five, for example, are the central figures in Book One: Earth so I didn't have much of a choice in avoiding them.)  There will be no author insertion.  There will be no "cuteness," if I can help it.

There are, however, elements of the story I want to tell that don't fall into the normal frame of the larger tale.  Meaning, there are subplots in the series that don't have to do with the survival of mankind, but I'd still like to talk about them.  Plus, there are certain characters from the show that I'd like to revisit.  I'd like to talk to Baltar or Zarek or any number of others.  I want to get their perspectives on all that happened.

I had an epiphany about that.

Read more after the JUMP.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Win the First Draft of "Book One - Earth"

(EDIT: We have a winner!  Scroll down or click the JUMP to see!)

I've finished the first draft of Book One - Earth.

I like it a great deal, but I will have to go back and do some editing and rewriting, of course.  Regardless of what may come, the winner will get to see what I've got so far.

Since we're talking about Earth, here are some of the covers I made for Book One, some of which draw on the flag style for the Twelve Colonies.

Those were OK, I guess, but I gave it another stab and came up with this one:

This is the one I've gone with for the book.

(What's the symbol at the bottom?  It's my interpretation of the Colonial version of the thirteenth zodiac sign, Ophiuchus the serpent bearer.  Of course, serpents and snakes played a part in the Thirteenth Tribe in Lords of Kobol - Book One.)

Ready to play?  It's after the JUMP ...

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!