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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XVII: SITREP - and a chapter from Sagittaron

 Here's the graphic:


Halfway through Book Five: Sagittaron.  The first half dealt with the arrival of the imperial forces of Virgo and Leo on the planet.  The second half picks up a few centuries later once the oppression has been codified and the people are becoming set in their ways (ways that persist all the way until Battlestar Galactica).

Throughout these books, I'm using the Messengers of The One True God as connective tissue, interviewing people from my books and the TV shows to set up, recap, ask questions, etc.  I try to use characters attached to the colony in question, of course.  There are two known characters related to Sagittaron: Anastasia Dualla and Tom Zarek.  I've used them both.  In fact, you can read Zarek's chapter after the JUMP.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XVI: Mapping Leonis, Virgon, Sagittaron

 I've been making maps but I somehow forgot to share them with everyone.

Let's go back to Book Three: Leonis:

Click to embiggen

Book Three contains two time periods.  The first part is set about 620 years after the exodus from Kobol.  The initial settlers of Leonis regressed into an agrarian society and their language became something akin to Gaulish.  (Many of the smaller towns on the map come from an ancient map I found of Gaul.)  The second half of the book is set 150 years later and the language has evolved into "Old French" (aka Anglo-Norman).  

As for the structure of the world, the book Beyond Caprica states that Leonis has only two continents: one above the equator and the other below.  It also mentions that there are several large north-south rivers and that the capital (at the time of the fall of the Colonies) is Luminere, which is obviously the name of the city Lomere several centuries later.

On to Book Four: Virgon:

Click to embiggen

Book Four is focused on only one time period.  A time of transition for the Virgan Empire and a time of civil war.  Thus, the "red cities."  In the ensuing centuries, "Buskirk" became "Boskirk"; "Bloustaff" became "Bloustad"; and so on.  The time period means the language is based on Old English.  (In case you're wondering, "Cent" is pronounced with a "k" sound.)

The general look of the map came from the QMX map.  I enlarged the planet for Virgo from it and traced the outline.  It suited my purposes well.  (I couldn't do the same for Leonis; the QMX map's planet for Leonis differed too much from other descriptions of the planet.)

On to Book Five: Sagittaron:
Click to embiggen

That's a lot of mountains.

As described by multiple sources, Sagittaron is a very mountainous planet with fertile valleys.  Of course, from the show, we know that this particular world was exploited for centuries by the other colonies.  This evokes comparisons to our own planet, including the colonial period of the 18th and 19th centuries in Africa.

There are any number of languages in Africa that I might have used for this part of the series.  I ended up settling on Hausa, a language native to western Africa (in and around Nigeria).  They have (naturally) a very rich history and mythology which made for a great contrast against the Pantheonic "colonizers."  

Why did I choose Hausa, though, out of all the languages present in Africa?  The name of the capital city has been established as Tawa, so I searched to discover its origin.  As it turns out, there are several occasions of "Tawa" in various languages.  The one that intrigued me most, however, was Hausa.  In that tongue, "Tawa" means "mine," as in the possessive pronoun.  My initial confusion at seeing the word "mine" inspired this scene between the Virgan expedition leader and the chief of a village:

Cenric said, "There is no need to change what has worked well before.  Makau, introduce us."

The translator sighed and stepped toward the older man who wore brightly colored skins and a metallic necklace.  "This is the Duke of Sagittarius, Lord Cenric.  He has come to claim your lands in the name of the ruler of Virgo, Queen Beverley."

The chief raised up and angry chattering rustled through the crowd.  "He cannot do this," he said in their language.

The duke ignored him and said to Makau, "Ask him what this place is."

The young man asked, "What is this place?"

Defiant, the chief squared his shoulders and raised his jaw.  "Tawa."

"'Tawa?'" the lord asked.  "Does that have a meaning?"

Makau translated, "'Mine.'"

"Oh, a mine," Cenric said.  He looked around and smiled.  "Very attractive.  I believe we shall establish ourselves here.  Permanently."

Of course the colonizers would want to be near a mine, even though the chief was being defensive and saying his village is "mine."

Most of the green village names on the map feature only in the first half (which I have nearly finished).  The "resettlement cities" don't come into play until the second half, which is set a few centuries later.  

Book Five is a tragedy and, in these volumes, it serves to explain how the Sagittarons became the people we saw in BSG and also as an illustration as to how little mankind has changed.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XV: Sitrep - Book Four is Finished (and I'm halfway done)

Here's the graphic:


SOMEHOW, I managed to write all of Book Four: Virgon in less than one month.  It's about 100 pages ... that's a lot for such a short time.  I wondered if Virgon was "too short" at that length, but the story it tells is tight, fast-paced, and exciting (I thought, anyway).  Plus, as most of Volume Two deals with the Imperial era of the Colonies (both Leo and Virgo), there would be plenty more Virgon to come.

AND, if you'll note on the handy-dandy chart, this means that eight out of the sixteen books in Colonies of Kobol are now finished.  Wow.  Halfway ... I didn't believe I'd get here so quickly.  (Note, however, that this halfway mark is somewhat arbitrary.  As far as actual pages go, I have no real idea of where or when the halfway mark would fall.  At least I won't until I've actually finished the thing.)

So now I have outlined and am ready to move on to the most exploited of the Twelve Colonies, Sagittaron:


The story it tells is necessary but probably not fun.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XIV: Page Count

Quantity is by no means a measure of quality.  There are plenty of fans of various franchises who would agree to that.

For me, I'm trying to lay down some serious quantity and I am constantly worried that the quality may not be up to people's expectations.  Other than writing, reading, editing, writing again, etc., there's not much I can do on that front.  (And, I suppose, I could tell people, "Hey, lower your expectations.  We'll all be happier."  There.)

If you're curious about the quantity of what I've put out versus what's coming, here you go.


Lords of Kobol - Book One: Apotheosis: 206 pages
Lords of Kobol - Book Two: Descent: 203 pages
Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus: 260 pages
Lords of Kobol - Prelude: Of Gods and Titans: 310 pages
Lords of Kobol - Alternate: Tales from Ancient Days: 116 pages

Total for the Lords of Kobol series: 1,095 pages

Now, here's what's coming using current first draft(-ish) page counts:


Colonies of Kobol - Book One: Earth: 157 pages
Colonies of Kobol - Book Two: Gemenon: 134 pages
Colonies of Kobol - Book Three: Leonis: 138 pages

Total for Colonies of Kobol - Volume One: 429 pages


Colonies of Kobol - Book Four: Virgon: 5 pages

(Gimme a break.  I just started.)



Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica: 544 pages
Colonies of Kobol - Book Fourteen: The Colony: 147 pages
Colonies of Kobol - Book Fifteen: New Caprica: 61 pages
Colonies of Kobol - Book Sixteen: Earth: 101 pages

Total for Colonies of Kobol - Volume Three: 853 pages (plus whatever Book Twelve: Tauron will be)

Total for the Colonies of Kobol series thus far: 1,287 pages

There you go.  Time for me to get back at it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XIII: SITREP - Book Three (and Volume One) Are Finished

See for yourself:


Leonis ended up being an enjoyable exercise in writing and plotting.  How to set up a thousand-year war between two worlds ... I planted some seeds that don't begin to sprout until Book Four (which I've already outlined, as you can see).

With the completion of Book Three: Leonis, Volume One is also finished.  I made a graphic to show you how I (currently) plan to separate the books into volumes:


Yes, Volume One is "only" three books.  As that volume is subtitled Foundation, these three books had to set up all that follows.  In Book One: Earth, we set up the Final Five and their flight to the Colonies.  In Book Two: Gemenon, it's the conflict between monotheism and polytheism there that later becomes part of the Cylons' programming.  In Book Three: Leonis, it's setting the stage for the conflict between Leo and Virgo, one that shapes everything that happens in the Colonies for a millennium.


Volume Two: Evolution is just that.  How these different worlds evolve and how they are shaped by their masters who live on far away planets.  I get cracking on that in short order, starting with Book Four: Virgon.


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Writing 'Colonies' Part XII: SITREP - Half done with Book Three

Here's the handy-dandy graphic:


The first half of Book Three - Leonis went fairly quickly, I thought.  It's about the coming of Virgo to Leonis, their sister world in the Beta System, and the establishment of a unifying presence there.  I don't want to say too much, but suffice it to say that the people who led Virgo after its colonization were far better about passing along technology and knowledge than just about any other world in the colonies.  The second half continues this story a century later as Leo is more fully a vassal of Virgo and how the world breaks free of that rule, leading to a thousand years of conflict.

As Leonis has always been an analogue for France and Virgon England, I'm trying to keep a linguistic symmetry, so most of the places and names on Leo at the time of Virgo's arrival are Gaulish, minus as much Latin influence as I can muster.  The Virgo speak Latin but that is on its way out as Old English is on the rise back home.  In later books, I will transition names and words to Old English, Old French, Middle English, etc., over the centuries.  This is by no means important; it's just flavor.



Want a taste?  Here are a couple of chapters from the first half of Book Three after the JUMP.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Writing "Colonies" - Part XI: SITREP - Book Two is Finished

Here's where I stand:


Yay.

Six down, ten more to go.

Oof.  That's fatalistic.  Let me go another way.

Book Two was very fun to write.  The first half is revisiting the aftermath of the exodus from Kobol with a couple of familiar characters and getting the stage set for the next two thousand years of strife in the Colonies.  The second half takes place about a thousand years later and features the source of a lot of the conflict on Gemenon between monotheists and polytheists.  Fun to write.  I hope it's fun to read.

Next up, Book Three:



Time to French it up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Writing "Colonies" Part X: Mapping Gemenon

If you've been reading my stuff for a while, you know I love mapping things.

I haven't made maps for every book in the Colonies series thus far, but when I begin to have to deal with multiple locations and making references in dialogue, it seems like the right thing to do.

Without further ado, here's the map I've crafted for Book Two: Gemenon:

Click to embiggen

There's a lot to say about this, but I don't want to.  I don't want to spoil the story too much.

Here are some basics, though.

Gemenon was initially named Pollux by the exiles from Kobol, because it was in a mutual orbit with Caprica (then called Castor).  The people of Virgo (you'll discover) became powers across the four systems and they called the planet Gemini.  Circa 800 years after colonization, the Virgo came to Gemenon and brought with them gold, some technology, and their languages: a high language (Latin) and a common tongue (Old English).  Over the years, the Latin evolved and became "Proto Gemenese," which is actually known as Macedo-Romanian or Aromanian on Earth (This is the real linguistic history of Romanian, by the way.  It evolved from Vulgar Latin to Aromanian to Romanian.  What was referred to as "Old Gemenese" on BSG and Caprica is, in fact, Romanian.).  Thanks to this influence, the name for their own planet at around YR 1150 is "Dzeamin" (almost pronounced like the "G" in "Gemini"), which is Aromanian for "twin."

The second half of the book takes place at about 1150 at an important time of religious strife.  The cities along the Gramada Mountains in the west are all monotheist strongholds.  There, they speak a kind of "Neo Olympian," evolved from the tongue spoken on Old Kobol.  The "Retreat" you see near Moreni is the fortress that was largely in ruins by the time of Caprica, and home to the Monad Church and the STO.  (It's what's on the cover of Book Two.)


The other cities are polytheist and had direct contact with the Virgo.  Their names are Romanian/Aromanian/Macedonian/etc.  Some of the titles they use may be derived from Latin or Old English.  For example, a cavalry unit from Calafatis is called a "horsefyrd," after the Old English terms for armies and navies ("landfyrd" and "shipfyrd").  The key conflicts in the second half of the book arise because, for a couple of centuries, both Virgo and Leo waged a kind of economic war with each other through Gemenon, which led to massive deforestation.  The trees of the Great Forest were larger than any others in the colonies and their wood more hardy.  This made them a desirable commodity and helped fund the rise of many cities near the forest.  But the rapid loss of the trees and the lack of care given to the empty space so near the windswept plains of the north has led to desertification.  The desert now creeps closer to these cities and withers their resources.  By the time of BSG, the forest will be completely gone and the desert dominates the continent.

I explained quite a bit more than I intended.  Oh well.

A couple of other tidbits?  Gallia on the map is a town named after the Galleon, the largest ship of the "caravan of the heavens" that fled Kobol, and marks the place where the exiles landed.  Oranu becomes the capital of the planet later on.  Illumini is kind of the planet's religious center, too, in later years as it contains the Pantheon and the Kobol Colleges.

I'm having fun writing about pseudo-medieval times and I'm trucking along.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Writing "Colonies" Part IX: SITREP - Book Two, Half Finished


Just to fill everyone in, Book Two is proceeding apace.  The first half of the book is about the exiles from Kobol (as seen at the end of Lords of Kobol - Book Three) landing on Gemenon (initially called Pollux) and what happens next.  Obviously, they can't all stay there.  Otherwise, it wouldn't be Colonies (plural) of Kobol, now would it?  So, the first half sets up the spread of mankind into the other worlds and it also includes some stuff surrounding our old monotheist friends, the Draco.  (Lords of Kobol - Book Two, in case you've forgotten.)

The second half fast-forwards about eight centuries to a time of strife on Gemenon between monotheists and polytheists.  This conflict will have ramifications for centuries more, all the way up to the time of the TV show Caprica, the Cylon War, and Battlestar Galactica.

I have no idea how long it will take.  I had portions of the first half in my mind for years, but that's not the case with the second half.  It's been outlined and, as long as I can keep going for long walks where I hash out my dialogue and story points (I'm sure the neighbors think I'm nuts), I can get it done in a timely manner.

(I've also made a rudimentary map of Gemenon that I've been using.  I might post that sometime soon.)

Take care.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Writing "Colonies" Part VIII: SITREP - Beginning Book Two

This is the state of things now:



Yes, I've finished Book Sixteen: Earth.  It was weird writing the end of the entire Kobol-verse saga, as well as the last appearances of William Adama, the Messengers, et al, and knowing that I still had something like two-thirds of these books left to write.

So, now that I've finished the end, I have to rewind to the beginning, as it were, of the Twelve Colonies:


If you'll recall, at the end of Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus, the assistant to the late President Stephen Acastus, Alexandra Gideon, was left in charge of the exiles from Kobol.  Book Two of Colonies of Kobol will pick up with their entry into the Cyrannus System, landing on Gemenon, and establishing the first settlement there.  The second half of the book will fast forward a bit and show us some of the religious division that marks Gemenon's history.

As you saw above in the SITREP graphic, I have outlined Book Two.  Meaning, I have a chapter-by-chapter idea of what's going to happen in the story.  From experience, I can tell you that this is highly subject to change (most often, in the direction of getting bigger).

Here's a look:


No; your eyes aren't failing you.  I've digitally blurred it to conceal details.

On the screen, you can see the digital "Post-Its."  Each one represents a chapter with different colors representing different characters (white for the Messengers, pink for Gideon, etc.).  Underneath the monitor, you can see my notebook.  In there, each Post-It represents a separate book in the series (three green-yellows for the books in Volume One; eight blues for the books in Volume Two; etc.).  Elsewhere in the notebook, I have dozens of scribbled ideas and half-thoughts for the various books and characters in the series.

Now, it's time to start writing.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask on Facebook, Twitter, or below.

In the meantime, thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Writing "Colonies" Part VII: Sitrep

It's the first week of March, 2020.  I have a soft deadline of 2021 to be finished with Colonies of Kobol and to have them ready to be released into the wild.  (Mainly because summer of 2021 marks ten years since I first released Lords of Kobol.)  Don't put money on that, however.  Lest we forget that I had to take a year-long break from Prelude before I was ready to continue and conclude that one.  (Even though that ended up being the best thing for it and it became my favorite of that series.)

Still, things are going well.



Book Sixteen: Earth is halfway finished.  Now, don't get excited.  Yes, Book Sixteen is the last in the three volumes, but I'm not writing them in order.

In fact, this is the current status of all sixteen books:


There we go.

I wrote Book One first because I had just finished a BSG rewatch, so the Final Five were still in my head.  Then I moved on to Book Fourteen: The Colony because that starts with the Final Five arriving in the Colonies and stopping the Cylon War.  After that, I did a Caprica rewatch and started Book Thirteen.

Man, Book Thirteen is long.

Five-hundred fifty-four pages.  Why is it so long?  I mean, the first three entries of Lords of Kobol are about two hundred and change, each.  Prelude is three hundred and change.  For Colonies of Kobol, Earth (I) and The Colony were about one-fifty or so each.

I have come to the conclusion that Caprica is so long because the show wasn't given the finality it deserved.  For Lords of Kobol, I used about six hundred-seventy pages to tell all the story I wanted.  Plus a bit more with Prelude for a thousand pages total.  That's good enough for the Lords of Kobol, I suppose.

For Earth (I) and The Colony, I'm reusing characters from the show, Battlestar Galactica.  Their stories were told very well and pretty much in full on the series.  There's no real need to explain too much more about their characters.  Largely, it's just about depicting the events that got them where they ended up.  Now, that's not to say there's no character development or insights.  There are plenty.  But given what we saw in the show, these characters weren't necessarily begging for more.

That's not the case with the characters from Caprica.

They only had one year and then we were teased with that amazing epilogue at the end, showing what the future held for them.  And that was all we got.

So, I felt a sense of duty to get these characters to the points we saw in the epilogue and to then push them further toward the Cylon War.  And once the war started, to show what they did during it.

And that's what I did.  I feel like Book Thirteen is the second and third season of Caprica that those characters never got.  The first half of the book is the second season, which takes them from the end of the first season to the places we saw in the epilogue and then further to the start of hostilities with their Cylon companions.  The rest of the book is about the war.  Some characters are added and some drop away.  Some die.  It's long but it needed to be long.

New Caprica?  Not long at all.  Only about sixty pages.  Why?  Because the story of that colony is well known and brief.  I wanted to provide some more context to certain characters, tell a few stories that weren't told on screen (stories that Ronald D. Moore hinted at in interviews), connect dots to stuff we found out later in the series ... but that needn't take up hundreds of pages.

That's the nice thing about using the volume system like I am for Colonies.  If a story about a particular colony isn't terribly long, it doesn't have to be.  If it's begging for a full-on epic, I can do that.  I have germs of stories, skeletons of tales, if you will, for every colony and not all of them will be long.

So, Book Sixteen: Earth (II).  How long is it?  Right now, about fifty pages.  It might get to one hundred and it might not.  The story I want to tell is fairly simple, even though it details the end of the entire "Kobolverse" saga and The One True God's plans for us all.  Yes, there is an addendum, sorta, to the tale of the settlers from the ragtag fleet on our planet some 150,000 years ago.  But the bulk of the action takes place in our own future, some X-years hence.  (I am purposefully keeping the date vague both here and in the book so it's not invalidated by the passage of time in the real world.)  It is in our own future that we will determine if the cycle continues or if it starts again.

(Listen to the words of the Messengers in Times Square for a hint on which way the story will fall.)

In the past, I have given out PDFs of the first drafts to the parts of Colonies that I've finished.  I will not be doing that any longer.  Book Sixteen is the end and I don't want to give away the end.  Also, once I back up to the other books and colonies, I feel like giving away those individual pieces won't do the readers any favors since they'll lack the needed context.  With the parts that I have written to this point, readers knew many of the characters thanks to both shows, BSG and Caprica.  There's no such luck with stories about ancient Gemenon or Sagittaron or Virgon or Aerilon.  I may share chapters from time to time, however.

Speaking of, want a chapter from Book Sixteen: Earth?  Read it after the JUMP.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Writing "Colonies of Kobol" Part VI - Saul Tigh and Brenik


I'm currently writing Book Fifteen: New Caprica.  Having just finished Book Thirteen: Caprica, I had plenty of things fresh in my mind to use ... especially when it comes to the torture of Saul Tigh.

If you have the DVDs or Blu-rays of BSG, then you know there are deleted scenes.  A lot of what is removed is of little consequence.  Sometimes, however, there is gold.  For example, remember Elosha telling Galactica's crew that the Tribes fled Kobol when a jealous god sought to elevate himself above the others?  That was a deleted scene.  (And one that I put my own unique twist on in Lords of Kobol.)

Here's another deleted scene.  In it, Young Bill Adama and Young Saul Tigh talk about the war and Tigh discusses his own particular horror story.  I couldn't find the entire scene on YouTube, but here's the audio for his tale:
CLICK HERE.



I couldn't NOT use that, right?  I did, in Caprica and I revisit it in New Caprica.  Click the JUMP for two never-before-seen chapters, one from each book (in first draft form ... so keep that in mind).